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Utah State Am’s Last Three Champions Paired Together at Soldier Hollow
The three latest champions of the Utah State Amateur are paired together for the 36-hole medal play qualifying of the 115th version of the event beginning Monday at Soldier Hollow.
Jon Wright, the defending champion who won last year at his home course at The Country Club; Jeff Evans, who won at Soldier Hollow two years ago; and Joe Parkinson, who won at his home course at Alpine Country Club three years ago; will tee it up at 12:43 on the number one tee of the Silver Course.
For Wright, the defending champion, it should be an enjoyable, stress free day. As the defending champion he is already assured the number one seed in match play that will begin on Wednesday, his first real test.
For Evans and Parkinson, and the other five former champions, the round will be for real. They, like everyone else, have to earn their spots in the match play portion of the event, but it will be easier than in past years. The other champions are Dan Horner, Clark Rustand, Steve Borget, Todd Barker, and Darrin Overson.
The UGA has expanded the match play field to 64 from the traditional 32. That expansion which includes an additional 32 players in match play is estimated to give all the players an extra two shots to squander during the 36-hole qualifying.
In the past there was very little wiggle room. Every shot counted. An out of bounds was almost certainly Doomsville. This year the qualifying squeeze isn’t so tight. Fewer good players will be eliminated through the stroke play qualifying. The rule change has the effect of placing more emphasis on match play while reducing the emphasis on stroke play. The rule change will be a major topic of conversation at the scoreboard and clubhouse.
In the three previous years the tournament has been held at Soldier Hollow the cut has been at 145 and 146. Two years ago the cut came at 145, but there were 16 players who had to playoff for just three spots. Had the format change been in effect at that time all those players would have been in match play and a different set of players would have been going through the stressful playoff test.