Web.Com Tour professional Tom Whitney secures first place check and 2018 Utah Championship exemption with win at Sand Hollow Resort.
By Randy Dodson, Fairways Media
Hurricane, Ut – Former United States Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Operator and now a Web.Com Tour member with conditional status (top 100), Tom Whitney, shot his way to the top of the leaderboard after three days of play with rounds of 70-65-66 – 201. Whitney’s 15-under total edged last year’s runner-up Jim Knous by one shot. Knous’ closing round 8-under 64 was beat for low round of the day by Kurt Katayama’s course record-setting 10-under 62. Katayama finished in third place.
With his Web.Com Tour conditional status Whitney is headed to the second stage of Qualifying-School to try and improve his status for next season. The Sand Hollow Open provides multiple motivating factors to players heading in Whitney’s direction including the opportunity to compete against like-minded players in an off-season competition, an attractive first place purse of $18,000 and for most, the exemption into the 2018 Web.Com Tour Utah Championship.
Should Whitney make it into Utah’s only PGA Tour event on his own play next season, the local exemption, owned by the Leavitt Group as a sponsor of the Utah Championship, will go back into the sponsor’s hands, and they will name another player of their choice.
For runner-up Knous, his tournament total of 14-under 202 was identical to his total last year when he finished runner-up to Zac Blair after a one-hole playoff.
“I’ve played well here both years, sometimes there’s just someone else playing just a little bit better,” said Knous. “I knew Tom was going to fire back at me on the back nine, which he did. I stayed patient and made some big putts.”
Knous also has conditional Web.Com Tour status next year and took advantage of the opportunity to play this week in order to stay competitive heading into Q-school.
“I’m thrilled that I closed it out,” said Whitney. “Having a three-shot lead coming into the final round I fell behind to Jim by one-shot even before the front nine was over. I really wasn’t doing anything wrong but Jim made birdie-after-birdie-after-birdie. I lit the fire and was 6-under on the back and got it done.”
Following Whitney, Knous and Kitayama in the final top-five were Utah Open low professional Zahkai Brown and Wyndham Clark who tied for fourth-place at 11-under par.
The only player with local ties in the top 10 was former BYU player/graduate and current Rocky Mountain Open champion Justin Keiley who finished in 8th with a 7-under total 209.
Full results for the 2017 Sand Hollow Leavitt Group Open can be found online: http://tpp.ghin.com/Club/Scoring/ResultsStroke.aspx?id=208933
Photo credit: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson
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