August 15, 2013
By Mark Janssen
It was 10 years ago last month - July 25, 2003 - that Kansas State alum Jim Colbert made history for a golfer playing in a senior major golf tournament.
In the second round of the Senior British Open, Colbert matched the course record at the Ailsa Course in Turnberry, Scotland, by firing an 8-under par 62 at the age of ... 62.
As Colbert recalls, "I shot a 2-over on the first day, so I was in jeopardy of missing the cut. I needed a good round. I wasn't going to come this far from home and miss the cut."
Colbert was 3-under at the turn and answered that with five more birdies on the back, which included a birdie-birdie performance at Nos. 17 and 18.
"Steve (Bybe, caddie) and Marcia (Colbert's wife) were jumping up and down and hollering like I had just won the tournament," said Colbert. "It was only Friday. I didn't know what I had done. My concentration was on the scoreboard, which had me at 6-under because of being 2-over on Thursday. I had no idea that I had gone 8-under."
Colbert's round included an eagle, seven birdies, nine pars and one bogey for the 62.
"It was pretty neat, but I don't think you're always conscious of what you're doing when you're in the middle of playing your best golf," said Colbert, who will be hosting the Colbert-Fogler Golf Classic at the Colbert Hills Golf Course on August 18 and 19 as a benefit to the Wildcat golf team.
He would conclude the tournament with rounds of 66 and 73 for a 10th-place 7-under par finish in an event that Tom Watson would win in a playoff over Carl Mason.
ANOTHER PRETTY NIFTY ROUND: A 62 is low, but Colbert went even lower at the Kansas City Tiffany Greens Golf Course three years earlier when he fired a 61 at the age of 59, but he was miffed beyond words.
"I wanted a birdie on No. 18, but I lipped a 12-foot putt for a par," said Colbert. "I had birdied every hole on the back and I so much wanted to be able to say 'I birdied it!' if someone asked me how I did on the back. 'I birdied it!'
Instead, Colbert settled for an 11-under par 61.
THAT TRADEMARK BUCKET HAT: Colbert was in a junior tournament in Kansas City when he suffered heat stroke during an early tournament round.
"My dad took me to the doctor and they did whatever they had to do. I was pretty sick, but I had another round the next day," said Colbert. "The doctor told my dad to go get the biggest hat he could find to keep the sun off me. He bought a bucket hat, plus I put cold towels around my neck."
Even as a touring professional, Colbert has been taken off the course multiple times due to heat issues.
"It's why I still have the bucket hat and ice towels around my neck," said Colbert.
COWBOY TURNED WILDCAT: It was the fall of 1960 when Colbert, a standout in football, basketball and golf as a prepster at Kansas City's Bishop Miege High School, enrolled at Oklahoma State to play golf for the perennial power Cowboys.
The day before school started, the former high school quarterback reflects, "I moseyed over to watch O-State's football practice and decided I was going to play football, too. I told that to Labron (Harris, OSU's golf coach), but he said, 'Golfers at Oklahoma State don't play football.'"
Colbert put in a call to the Kansas State coaching staff to ask if he could have a scholarship, and when the answer was yes, "I hopped on a bus and came to Manhattan."
In high school, Colbert suffered just one loss on the football field in his final two years playing quarterback and safety.
"We were ahead of the times," the 5-foot-8 Colbert said. "We ran a belly series, but we also ran a triple option and a spread set that they call a 'shotgun' now. We ran it off numbers and colors like some teams do today."
A host of gridiron injuries soon had Colbert in the office of K-State athletic director Bebe Lee. "I asked him if I quit football, would there be a golf scholarship for me? He just looked at me and said, 'Now you're getting smart.'"
K-STATE DAYS: Married out of high school, Jim and his wife, Marcia, lived at the Jardine Terrace complex - "M-12 and I-23" - while Colbert worked behind the bar at the Manhattan Country Club.
Laughing, he recalled, "I was under-age and serving drinks in a dry state."
Golf was hardly a priority at K-State in the 1960s as Colbert's first coach was basketball assistant Bill Guthridge. "I think they gave him $1,200 to drive us to the meets," Colbert said.
Colbert's overall career was modest, but his finish was superb as he placed second at the NCAA Championships staged at the Broadmore Golf Club in Colorado Springs.
Colbert turned pro after K-State and he won eight PGA events and was the 1995 Senior Player of the Year.
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