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Jurca Loves Cache Valley, Adds Northern Utah Am to Earlier Win at Logan River Am

(This story was published in its entirety from The Herald Journal in Logan. It is great sports journalism and our thanks and congratulations to Wade Denniston and The Herald Journal. It is a reminder that there is some good journalism going on outside of the metro area.

By Wade Denniston, The Herald Journal
Mike Jurca sure enjoys playing golf in Cache Valley.
Earlier this year the BYU golfer took first place in the Logan River Amateur. The sophomore-to-be followed that up by winning the Northern Utah Amateur with a 7-under 64 at the Logan Golf & Country Club on Saturday.
“I just took another chance coming up here to Logan,” Jurca said. “I’ve never played the course before. This is my first time, but I heard great things about Logan Country Club. … I came up here with a couple of buddies and just played really consistent golf.
“I hit lots of fairways. I think I missed two fairways on the day, so that was the key. Out here there’s lots of trouble if you’re not hitting it straight. My tee shots just really set me up in position to be able to attack the pins and make birdies.”
Jurca carded a 68 at the Logan River Amateur back in May, winning by one stroke over Mike Membrila.
“I shot 3-under in some pretty tough conditions down there and ended up winning by one,” Jurca recalled. “It looks like Logan’s kind of my place this year. I’m two-for-two when I’ve come up here, so hopefully I’m not getting hated by all the Aggie fans.”
Perhaps the Cougar should trade in his BYU blue for USU blue.
“Utah State is a great school,” Jurca said with a laugh, when asked if he’d consider transferring from BYU. “I know lots of the kids on the golf team up here. They’ve got a very awesome coach and just a bunch of good kids. It’ll be fun to see them over the next couple of years.”
Weber State golfer Matt Wahlen took second place in the Northern Utah Am, firing a 4-under 67, which included a hole-in-one on the par-3 second hole.
“I started off just pretty much making a lot of pars and then toward the end of my round I made a lot of birdies, and then the hole-in-one was one of my last holes,” Wahlen said. “I think I went birdie, birdie, hole-in-one, then I bogeyed my last hole (the par-3 fourth).”
As is customary with this tournament, the Northern Utah Am featured a 9 a.m. shotgun and another one at 2:30 p.m.
Both Jurca and Wahlen played in the afternoon.
“There wasn’t really any wind,” Jurca said. “There was a little storm that was passing over that was causing a little bit of trouble. But it was pretty much perfect conditions for the whole day. Sometimes, that’s just the luck of the draw between the morning and afternoon, so I’ll take it.”
Jurca, who is originally from St. George and graduated from Dixie High in 2008, made eight birdies, one bogey and nine pars. Six of his birdies came on the back nine, where he shot 28.
However, the highlight of Jurca’s day occurred on the par-4 fifth.
“I knew I was in perfect position to win the tournament, and that’s a tough tee shot,” Jurca said. “It’s very intimidating — out of bounds everywhere. I just really played a mental game with myself and talked myself into hitting the shot I envisioned. I hit a perfect shot, chipped it up to about three feet and knocked it in. That just kind of solidified the day for me.”
This was Jurca’s fifth overall victory this year.
“This summer has been a good one for me,” Jurca said. “… I’m just looking forward to the state amateur coming up in a few weeks. That’s the one I dream about winning, so hopefully I can go and play well there.”
For Wahlen, his ace was the second of his career.
“It was actually 158 yards,” Wahlen said. “I hit an 8-iron and it slam dunked in the hole. From our vantage point, we just heard it hit the hole. I wasn’t sure if it bounced out or something. We weren’t totally sure, we just knew it hit right in the hole. It was in there and there were no ball marks around. It was pretty sweet.”
Wahlen recorded his first hole-in-one at The Barn in Pleasant View.
Jack Rupe shot a 3-under 68 in the afternoon to finish in third place.
Bryant Jensen shared the lead following the morning session. The former Logan High golfer carded a 2-under 69, as did defending champion C.J. Haws. Those two finished tied for fourth.
“It was windy to start, so that’s never good,” said Jensen, who now lives in Springville and will be entering his third year of law school at BYU. “But I made it through the front and then had a really good stretch on the back. I made three birdies in a row and that’s about what did it for me.”
Jensen, who graduated from Logan in 2003 and was a member of the Grizzlies’ golf team all four years, parred his first three holes on the back before reeling off birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15.
Jensen said his birdie on the par-3 15th was the highlight of his round.
“It was about a 45-foot putt on 15 for the birdie,” he said. “Other than that, it was just pretty solid and steady most of the round.”
Putting proved to be key for Jensen.
“This is probably my best round putting in quite a while,” said Jensen, who quickly estimated he only had 24 or 25 putts.
This was Jensen’s first time playing in the Northern Utah Am. The decision to enter the tournament proved to be a good one.
“I didn’t even sign up until Wednesday,” Jensen said. “… The course was great. It’s a really well-run tournament.”
Jensen, Haws and Utah State golfer Tanner Higham (1-under 70) were the only golfers to shoot under par in the morning session.
“It was tough,” said Dylan Hardy, who also teed off at 9 a.m. “The wind was blowing all morning. It was pretty tough out there.”
Heath Stahle and David Cunningham — both played in the afternoon — joined Higham at 1-under to tie for sixth.
Hardy, whose home course is Birch Creek Golf Course, shot a 1-over 72 and had one of the few low rounds in the morning.
“I didn’t start off good and was 5-over after 10,” Hardy said. “I went 4-under on the last eight holes to shoot 72, so I had to battle back for sure.”
Hardy started his round on the par-3 13th hole and somehow managed bogey after hitting his tee shot right and into the trees.
After the shaky start, Hardy finished strong with a birdie on his second-to-last-hole of the day — the par-4 11th.
“(It was) playing like 460 into the wind,” Hardy said. “I smoked a drove, 7-iron to three feet and birdied. I was just short of the hill and had about 165 to the pin.”
(Complete results will be added later)