Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Sports / Recreation

Former Ram is master of the links

June 1, 2010
By Tony Phifer

Colorado State University men's golf coach Jamie Bermel just smiles when he thinks about Martin Laird's climb to stardom as a professional golfer.

First Ram to qualify for PGA Tour

Marin Laird, '04, is the first Ram to qualify to play on the PGA Tour with the world's best players.

Prior to Laird, no Ram had qualified to play on the PGA Tour, where the world’s best players compete on a weekly basis for 10 months each year. He earned that privilege in 2007 and is well into his third full season on the Tour.

Prior to Laird, no CSU golfer had played in any of golf’s four major tournaments. Laird played in the 2008 U.S. Open, and last year, he one-upped himself by playing in the U.S. Open and British Open.

Won PGA Tour event in 2009

Prior to Laird, no Ram had won a PGA Tour event. Laird accomplished that feat in October with a win in Las Vegas.

“We’ve had some very good players here, but Martin’s the best,” says Bermel, CSU’s coach for 11 years. “He has worked all of his life to get on the PGA Tour. He’s very talented, but he’s worked hard and earned everything that’s come his way. That’s what sets him apart.”

Game of inches

Bermel likes to say that golf is a game of inches with good fortune often the difference between success and failure. He’ll also say good fortune played a significant role in Laird’s move to Fort Collins in the first place.

Shortly after arriving at CSU in 1999, Bermel began recruiting some of the top players in the country. When American standout Corey Prugh chose the University of Washington over CSU, Bermel scrambled to find a player to fill the roster. A friend told him about a talented player – Laird – in Glasgow, Scotland, who hoped to play in America. Bermel liked what he saw in highlight tapes and, during a phone call to Laird, offered him a scholarship. Laird, who had never set foot in Colorado, accepted.

All-America honors, degree in business

After arriving at CSU in 1999, Laird established himself as the greatest golfer in CSU history.

Over the next four years, Laird established himself as the greatest player in CSU history, winning four tournaments, finishing 23 times in the top 10, and earning All-America honors his junior and senior seasons – all while earning a degree in business administration. He helped the Rams win six team titles during his senior season.

Jim Smith, a founding member of the Ram Masters golf boosters, says he knew Laird was special the first time he met him.

Honest, forthright, and first-class

“We took him out for a round of golf his first day in Fort Collins,” Smith says. “It was cold and rainy – very much like what you expect to see in Scotland. You could tell right away that he could really play. He’s a top-notch individual – honest, forthright, and first-class all the way. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see him be successful because he’s earned it.”

Bermel laughs when he thinks what might have been. He ran into Prugh, the golfer who spurned CSU for Washington, at a tournament during Laird’s senior season, and couldn’t resist the chance to motivate his star player.

“I told Martin that if Prugh had said ‘yes’ to CSU, he (Laird) wouldn’t even be at this tournament,” Bermel says, laughing. “Martin got pretty fired up and beat Prugh by five shots.”

Significant success

While Prugh failed to qualify for the PGA Tour, Laird has gone on to achieve significant success. His victory in Las Vegas was worth more than $700,000, gave him a two-year exemption to play on the Tour, and qualified him for several prestigious events – including the PGA Championship – previously out of his reach.

Laird also has risen to new heights in popularity and prestige in his native Scotland. The victory pushed him from 268th in the world rankings into the top 100. In the process, he flew past several countrymen to become the top-ranked Scottish player.

Alumnus Martin Laird has great fondness for CSU where he made great friends and earned his business degree.

No. 1-ranked Scot

“There’s no doubt that winning has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m thankful for this opportunity,” Laird says.

“It’s nice to be the No. 1-ranked Scot, but that’s never been one of my goals. I don’t want to limit myself to being the top player in Scotland, and I don’t want to be known as a guy who wins one tournament and never has a chance to win again. I want to keep improving and keep trying to win. That’s why I play this game.”

Laird’s success has put him in position to possibly play for Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup, a biennial competition that matches the best European and American players. Countryman Colin Montgomerie is the European team captain, and he’d like to have a Scot on his 12-man team.

Aiming to qualify for British Open

Laird’s primary goal for 2010, though, is to qualify for his second consecutive British Open. This summer, the 150th anniversary of the British Open is being played at historic St. Andrews Links – 10 miles from his parents’ home.

“To me, the Open Championship is the No. 1 tournament in the world, and St. Andrews is the most famous golf course in the world,” he says. “It would be an unbelievable experience for me to play there, especially with my family so close.”

Great fondness for CSU

While the 27-year-old is focused on the future, he has great fondness for CSU, where his stellar career began.

“I loved Fort Collins right away, and Coach Bermel and my teammates made me feel right at home,” he says. “I made great friends there, and I also learned a lot during that time – lessons about how to play the game and how to win.

“CSU is a great place. I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity.”