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Only One Former Champion in Utah State Amateur Match Play Field

There are going to some new names making history at this year’s Utah State Amateur Championship. The stroke play portion is over and now the tournament moves into three days of match play on the Soldier Hollow Gold Course.
 
Casey Halliday and John Busby each shot six under par 66 for low honors at the Utah State Amateur Thursday, but because Halliday wasn’t around for the playoff Busby was awarded the medalist honor and thus the number one seed. Busby’s six under score came on the Silver Course the first day and he maintained it with an even par score on the Gold Course Thursday. Halliday shot 68 on the Silver and 70 on the Gold.
 
Kyle Chappell of Richfield was just one shot off the lead with rounds of 68-71-139. At 140 were 17-year-old Travis Norseth (70-70-140) and Mike Branca (66-74-140).
 
The only former champion to survive the stroke play qualifying was straight and steady Tommy Sharp. There are four former runnerups who would like to win it all. They are Kirk Siddens, runnerup to Billy Harvey at Hill Air Force Base; Alex Sutton, runnerup to Zac Blair at Valley View; Stu Gold, runnerup to Joe Parkinson last year at Alpine, and Scott Clark, runnerup to Nick Nelson at Thanksgiving Point.

Dan Horner, who won the title at Soldier Hollow in 2008, and hadn’t missed match play for six consecutive years, was eliminated in the qualifying test. He posted 73-77-150.
 
Complete qualifying scores, seedings and first round pairings can be found by scrolling down the UGA home page.
 
With only three groups remaining to finish on each course the UGA officials delayed play for one hour because of lightning in the area, and that left about two dozen anxious players in the clubhouse wondering where the cut was going to be and who was going to be in a playoff for the final match play spots.
 
When play was finally completed there were 29 players at par or better and that left three spots for the 15 players who shot one over par. That required a playoff right up until darkness and the three who advanced to match play were Travis Miner, Stratton Schulz, and Nic Booth. Those eliminated in the playoff included 13-year-old Rhett Rasmussen, Steve Poulson, Ryan Smith, Cameron Young, Guy Child, Clay Bingham, Jeff Kitches, Troy Creer, Devon Purser, Daniel Feldman, Michael May, John Owen, and Brennan Coburn.
 
It appears to be a wide open field with no clear cut favorites.
 
Former champion Tommy Sharp drew a tough first round match in BYU’s Cameron Edens. Last year’s runnerup Stu Gold drew Conner Jones and Gold will be the favorite in that match. In other former runnerup pairings Kirk Siddens will be facing Taylor Haws, Scott Clark will battle Jacob Holt, and in one of those quirky match ups Alex Sutton will face Weber teammate Nick Despain.
 
There are two UGA presidents in the mix. Bill Probst, the current president, whose home course is Solider Hollow, will have a significant local knowledge advantage over 17-year-old Travis Norseth. Mike Jorgensen, president of the UGA in 2007, will be facing Brady Stanger, a recent reinstated amateur. Jorgensen and Stanger both have very good records in the State Am.  Probst at 56 years of age is the oldest player to reach match play.
Three sons of golf professionals advanced to match play. Nic Booth, son of Mike Booth at Glenmoor, earned the last seed in a playoff. Jeff Evans, son of John Evans of Cedar Ridge, will face David Madsen. Mike Branca, son of Ron Branca at The Country Club, will square off against Derek Squire, the current club champion at Riverside Country Club.
 
On the up and coming side of things Patrick Fishburn will be squaring off with Garrett Fotu.
 
Casey Halliday, the number two seed, drew Stratton Shulz, and in other matches Garner Davis will face Tommy Wingert, Brad Millard will play Mike Behle, and Greg Wojtkun will face Jed Rammell.
 
It’s been a long grueling battle to get this far. Over 600 entries have been reduced to 32 match play finalists. By the end of Friday will be down to eight, and Sunday it will be down to the two finalists in a 36-hole finale.