DENVER – The low amateur through the first round of the CoBank Colorado Senior Open was Jon Lindstrom at 1-under.
John Elway was 2-under through 14 holes at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club on a sometimes sunny, sometimes storm-threatening Wednesday afternoon along the city’s eastern plains.
“I had it going,’’ Elway said. “I’m getting old, I can’t finish.’’
Elway lost momentum on the 317-yard, par 4, 4th hole – his 13th hole as he started on the back 9 -- when he crushed a drive that bounced just a few feet past the green.
“I got a hold of a couple today so it’s getting better all the time,’’ said Elway, an amateur golfer because as a professional he serves as the Broncos’ general manager. “It’s always a crash course for me once the draft’s over.’’
Instead of executing a soft chip for a birdie, Elway settled for par, then bogeyed three of his final four holes to finish at plus-1.
“Things kind of slowed down a little bit, we got backed up a bit and my concentration was not very good,’’ Elway said. “But you know … Shoot!’’
Elway’s uber competitiveness could not be contained. He doesn’t have to play this event. But he does because he loves to compete.
Just like Elway really didn’t need to take the pressure-cooker job as Broncos’ GM in 2011. His legendary status in Denver was cemented after his 16-year, Hall of Fame career as a quarterback. He had plenty of money through his car dealerships and by being John Elway.
But he accepted owner Pat Bowlen’s offer because to run the football operations because Elway wanted the challenge of building the Broncos into a winner again after they finished 4-12 in 2010.
Elway promptly constructed a team that won five AFC West Division titles in five years, a stretch that included two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl 50 title. But now the Broncos are coming off a 5-11 season and Elway dug in perhaps like never before this offseason, signing quarterback Case Keenum through free agency and selecting pass rusher Bradley Chubb with his No. 5 overall pick in the draft.
In an interview with 9News following his round, Elway said he likes what he’s seen from his newest team as the Broncos are about to finish the second week of their four-week, OTA/minicamp practices.
“Everybody’s blending in very well,’’ he said. “The young guys are blending in and showing some promise.
“I think Case has done a nice job. All the quarterbacks have done a nice job. It’s been a very good start and an encouraging start.’’
At least in the two OTA sessions that were open to the media, it appeared the Broncos’ offense had its way in the passing game.
“Yeah, we’re much better there,’’ Elway said. “Obviously, with Case’s experience and starting fresh with Billy (Musgrave, the team’s offensive coordinator) this year, I think that’s part of it, too. Case is a smart guy who works hard, has been around a little bit. He adapts very well and he has some good weapons to throw to.
“I think Paxton (Lynch) and (Chad) Kelly have done a nice job, too.’’
The Broncos are supporting their investment in Chubb – he will draw a $17.9 million signing bonus once he signs his four-year contract – by bringing in former outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who retired two years ago with 138.5 career sacks. Ware is serving a part-time coach and observer during OTAs.
“Yeah, it was good to see DeMarcus,’’ Elway said. “He’ll be coming in a couple days a week for a couple weeks and then we’ll see how it works out with his schedule but obviously to be able to use him and pick his brain and have those guys be around him and see what a world champion is. I know that Von (Miller) was excited to have him so DeMarcus will be a great bonus for not only the outside linebackers but the whole defense.’’
So how good does Elway think the Broncos will be in 2018?
“We’ll see,’’ he said. “I’m going to leave that. We think that we’re going to be a better football team than we were last year. It’s one step at a time. We still have a ways to go. But we’re off to a good start.’’
After golfing in a threesome with Jeff Hanson (tied for fifth at 4-under, two strokes behind co-leaders Skip Kendall, Jeff Gallagher and Mike Grob) and his golf instructor Paul Lobato, Elway will be within two strokes of the amateur lead when he tees off for his second round at 8:05 Thursday morning.
“I played as good as I can play (in round one),’’ Elway said. “For me it was a good round. You’re always disappointed when you miss a little putt. You always look back at opportunities, but I hit it pretty well today.’’