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State Am Title Quest Continues for Eight

From 633 to 288 to 32 to 16 and now there are eight.
The quest for the Utah State Amateur championship has been whittled down to eight players and by the end of Saturday it will be down to two.
The eight are number one seed John Busby, Jeff Evans, Conner Jones, Travis Norseth, Stratton Schulz, BYU’s Cameron Edens, a newcomer from Massachusetts Greg Wojtkun, and Weber State’s Nick Despain.
No former champions remain as Cameron Edens came from four down to catch 2008 champion Tommy Sharp and snare an eventual 2 and 1 victory. Sharp was the only former champion in the match play field. There were seven former champions to begin with, but they were eliminated in the stroke play qualifying.
Today’s quarterfinals pit two players from Southern Utah, John Busby of St. George, and Jeff Evans of Cedar City. Both have been playing super golf. Busby eliminated Nic Booth, 4 and 3, and Mike Jorgensen, 3 and 2. Evans zipped through David Madsen 6 and 4, and then ousted veteran Scott Clark, 1-up.
It took Connor Jones all 18 holes to win both of his matches, and he is one of two giant killers of the tournament at this point. He knocked off last year’s runnerup Stu Gold in an upset victory, 1-up, and then beat perhaps the hottest player in the field, Mike Branca, 1-up. Branca had won his first round match 8 and 6 and was the fourth seed after the qualifying round.
Travis Norseth, the youngest player of the quarterfinalists at 17, had the temerity to knock off the oldest player in the tournament, 56-year-old UGA President Bill Probst, 2 and 1. Norseth managed a miracle par on the par three 16th hole. His tee shot got stuck in the weeds on the hillside and he had blast out and it went over the green, but he chipped that one in for par to halve the hole and maintain his 2-up lead. They halved the 17th hole giving Norseth the victory.
Norseth then knocked off another favorite, Kirk Siddens, in a thrilling 19 hole match that had an unfortunate ending when someone from the Silver Course, totally unaware of the important action on the Gold Course, yelled loudly to someone in his group right in the middle of Sidden’s backswing on his tee shot. The timing couldn’t have been worse and Siddens’ tee shot ended up in the thick rough. Siddens, to his credit, dismissed the incident as one of simple ‘bad luck.’
While Norseth is just 17-years old, he is a veteran of match play, having won the Utah Junior Golf Association match play championship for the past two years.
The Norseth-Jones match should be a great one.
In the right bracket Stratton Shulz, the 31st seed via a birdie on the qualifying playoff hole, advanced with two wins, upsetting Casey Halliday, 3 and 2, and then beating Tommy Wingert of Hill Air Force Base, 4 and 2.
A newcomer to the Utah golf community, Greg Wojtkun, advanced to the quarters with a tight win over Jed Rammell, 2-up, and a 5 and 4 win over Travis Miner. Wojtkun hails from Massachusetts where he has had success in the Massachusetts State Am in previous years.
Nick Despain of Weber State defeated fellow Wildcat teammate Alex Sutton in the first round, 4 and 3. Sutton was the runnerup at Valley View, losing to Zac Blair. It was an unfortunate first round pairing for the Weber teammates to have to meet in the first round.
Despain went on to defeat Garrett Fotu, also 4 and 3, to reach the quarters. Earlier Fotu had eliminated Patrick Fishburn, 3 and 2, in what was a battle of the longest hitters in the tournament.
The weather has been perfect for the tournament except for an hour squall that caused delay for the 16-man playoff for the final match play spots.
 Mike Jorgensen, another former UGA President, won his first match by upsetting one of the pre-tourney favorites Brady Stanger, 2-up, but then like the current president Bill Probst, he lost in the 2nd round to John Busby, the number one seed, 3 and 2.