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Shulz Sums Up State Am Finale:: Evans Was Better
By Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune
Midway • Stratton Schulz surveyed the congratulatory hugs and handshakes heaped upon Jeff Evans and could not have been more precise to sum up his beating.
“[Evans] was just a better player,” said the 19-year-old whose magic run through the 113th Utah State Amateur Championship crashed onto the Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Evans, who has played in U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links events within the past two years, played older than his 21 years. He attacked the pastoral course, pouncing on every Schulz mistake.
When it was all over, the methodical, unassuming Evans needed just 29 of the scheduled 36 holes Sunday to claim his first state amateur title. He had an eight-hole lead with seven to play.
“It was not easy at all,” said Evans, coming off a 42-hole marathon the day before just to make the final. “After I put in all the work … it was nice to see something finally pay off.
“The 42 holes yesterday wore me out.”
On a picture perfect weather weekend, Evans had battled from behind to win his quarterfinal and semifinal matches Saturday, while Schulz, who won a playoff just to reach match play, breezed through his matches.
Evans, battle-tested in stressful matches, was more than ready for the pressure of the championship. Evans seemed to throw a birdie at every Schulz par and a par at every bogey.
“The hardest thing is controlling yourself, controlling your own mind,” said Evans, who refined his game at Southern Utah University. “The mental game is something I’ve really worked hard on in college.”
If there were two swing holes Sunday, they would have been No. 18 to conclude the morning round and No. 6 in the afternoon.
Already leading by two, Evans buried a delicate downhill 30-footer for birdie to take a three-hole lead into the break.
“I definitely was given some confidence from that,” Evans said. “It built momentum going into the break.”
Then, in great position to win No. 6 and shrink Evans’ building lead to four, Schulz three-putted from short distance. Now, he was six down and out.
“That was the match right there,” Schulz said, of Utah Valley University. “I had a rough stretch of holes and [Evans] was completely on it.”
Schulz does walk away from his first state amateur with a boatload of confidence and three-year exemption for finishing second.
Evans earned a lifetime exception. He will also try to defend his title at the Cedar City Amateur this week. Now, he’ll also be introduced as the best amateur golfer in Utah.
“Amazing,” he said. “Awesome.”
Victory is a knockout after 29 holes
R Jeff Evans dominates to capture his first Utah State Amateur Championship.
• Evans, of Southern Utah University, needs just 29 of 36 scheduled holes to defeat Utah Valley’s Stratton Schulz, 8 and 7.
• Evans wins five of six holes down the stretch to clinch the championship.