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David Oraee, of Greeley, Colo., tees off during the Tyrrell Wyoming State Open on Sunday, July 9, 2017, at Airport Golf Club in Cheyenne. Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – David Oraee hasn’t played much golf since winning the Tyrrell Wyoming State Open golf tournament last summer.

Preparing for medical school takes up a lot of time.

“I have been trying to make sure all of my paperwork is put together and filled out, and make sure I have all of my health forms and immunization records in,” he said. “On top of that, I have to pack up everything and get ready to move to Oklahoma.”

Oraee leaves for Oklahoma State University in three weeks. He has his sights set on a career in cardiology, but knows his rotations could lead him in another direction.

Before that, Oraee will try to defend his Wyoming Open title. The 62nd edition of the tournament starts today at Airport Golf Course.

It’s the only tournament Oraee is playing this year.

“I have been trying to enjoy one last summer before I have my nose stuck in books for four years,” he said. “This tournament fell at a good time, and I thought I might as well come defend my title.”

Oraee claimed the 2017 Wyoming Open title by firing a 15-under-par 195 during the 54-hole event. He shared the lead after shooting a 7-under 63 in the first round. Oraee took sole possession of the lead with a 5-under 65 in the second round.

It stands as his lone professional victory.

He played in two tournaments after that, but a lingering injury and prepping for medical school interviews forced him to put his clubs away in early September.

“The aches and soreness I was dealing with was probably for the best,” Oraee said. “It gave me the time to do what I needed to.”

Oraee played at the University of Colorado from 2011-15. Like most college golfers, he thought he had the potential to make money playing the sport.

He reunited with some of his former CU teammates and hit the road to play in some smaller pro tournaments.

“I tried to play as much as I could and catch a break,” he said. “I did what everyone else was doing when they get out of college and try to make it.

“After that first year, I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do long term.”

Bigger purse

The Wyoming Open winner has long pocketed a check for $7,000, but that has increased to $10,000 this year.

Sponsors wanted the Wyoming Open to remain competitive with other tournaments in the region and continue to attract a strong field, tournament director Mike Lepore said.

“The pro field filled faster than it has,” he said. “I’ve never been full the first week of June.

“The quality of the field is also better, I think. This was a big step for us.”

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.

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