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Country Club Champion Upsets Blair; Faces Jensen in State Am Final
Everyone knew going into the State Am that someone was going to have to beat Zac Blair if anyone else was going to win it. Gentry Hicks, the Ute, didn’t do it, losing 4 and 3; Country Clubber Thomas Young didn’t do it, losing 2-up; and last year’s runnerup Stratton Schulz didn’t do it, losing 1-up. Add the five players who failed to beat Blair when he won the State Am in 2009 and Blair had carved a niche of eight straight wins on his match play record.
Then along comes Jon Wright, the club champion at The Country Club, a reinstated amateur with an impressive professional record, and he wins the first two holes of their semifinal match and then the two parry back and forth the rest of the day, but Blair was never able to completely close that margin and Wright used his years of experience on The Country Club greens to defeat the man who stood in everyone’s path to the championship, 2 and 1. Wright never trailed in the match.
Christian Jensen won the other bracket by downing Utah’s Joe Webber, 2 and 1, and will now face Wright for the 2012 Utah State Am championship in a 36-hole match Sunday that will begin at 7:30 a.m. The public is invited and there is no admission charge. There will be a lunch intermission and the afternoon round will begin at an indefinite time around noon.
In Jensen’s view, given Wright’s obvious mastery of the greens at The Country Club, whether he played Wright or Blair would probably be considered a Hobson’s choice. Either way he knew going in that it if he reached the finals he would have worthy foe.
Jensen, 26, from St. George, has played some very impressive golf himself in reaching the finals. He started with a 5 and 4 win over BYU’s Cole Ogden; then eked out a 1-up win over his good friend Kyle Chappell; then ousted the tourney Cinderella Christopher Grant, another Country Club member, 3 and 2, before outlasting Joe Webber Saturday afternoon. His first State Am experience came two years ago at Soldier Hollow when he reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Dan Horner. This year he advanced a step farther and would like to skip the growing pains and move on directly to the championship.
The Country Club hasn’t had a State Am champion for a half a century. Joe Bernolfo was the last to win it in 1961 over basketball All American Arnie Ferrin. It was Bernolfo’s second title and he was 49 years old. The last Country Club member to reach the finals was Steve Brinton in the 100th State Am at Riverside Country Club in 1998. He lost that match to Darrin Overson, 5 and 4.