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State Am Turning Into A Tournament of Champions; Four Former Champions Advance to Quarterfinals

The 115th Utah State Am is turning into a Tournament of Champions. When 288 players teed it up at Soldier Hollow on Monday there were three defending champions in the field, including defending champion Jon Wright who won it at The Country Club last year, defending champion of Soldier Hollow of the previous year, Jeff Evans, and defending champion Joe Parkinson, who won the title at Alpine CC three years ago but is playing in the tournament for the first time since then.
That’s three defending champions, admittedly of different distinctions, but still newsworthy. Five other former champions were also in the field, Dan Horner, Todd Barker, Clark Rustand, Steve Borget, and Darrin Overson.
After the first two days the field was cut to 64 players and five champions remained in contention, including all three defending champions of sorts Todd Barker, and Rustand. Borget and Overson failed to qualify, Overson missing by only one shot.
On Wednesday’s match play Round of 64 (the first ever for the Utah State Am) began and Clark Rustand was whittled from the field, leaving four champions going into the Round of 32. One of them had to go because Parkinson and Barker were playing each other. Parkinson won that showdown of champions, and the other three, Wright, Evans, and Horner all won their third matches of the tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals that will be played Friday morning.
Ironically, and sadly, all four of them are in the Upper Bracket and are paired against one another in the quarterfinal round Friday morning. Jon Wright will square off against Dan Horner and Joe Parkinson will face Jeff Evans and the winners will face each other in the semis.
In the other bracket medalist Cole Ogden will face senior Jeff Powars and Connor Jones will battle Jacob Holt, and tghe winners advance to the semis.
It is at this point a new State Am rule takes effect and all players must walk.Conditioning will become one of the overriding factors in the outcome, particularly in the afternoon semifinals and the 36-hole championship match on Saturday.
In the Round of 32 the feature match pitted two former champions, young Joe Parkinson against ancient Todd Barker and young won, 3 and 2. Barker, the oldest player in the tournament at 59, won at Alpine Country Club back in 1997 and Parkinson also won at Alpine Country Club, but only three years ago.
Jon Wright, the defending champion, took another step closer to repeating. He defeated Preston Richards, 3 and 2.
Dan Horner, champion in 2008 at Soldier Hollow, advanced in his quest for a second title by beating Ryan Brimley, 4 and 3; and Jeff Evans, the 2010 champion at Soldier Hollow, defeated Clark Jones, 2 and 1.
Former runnerups Kirk Siddens, Christian Jensen, and Stratton Schulz were shown the door and told to try again next year. Siddens was ousted by Tanner Higham, 5 and 4; Jensen was bumped by Jacob Holt, 4 and 3; and Schulz lost to Kelton Hirsch in 20 holes. Siddens lost the title match in 1999 to Billy Harvey, Jensen lost in the finals last year at The Country Club to Jon Wright, and Schulz lost to Jeff Evans two years ago at Soldier Hollow. Siddens is aging and his window for winning the title is shrinking, but Jensen and Schulz have many years yet to taste the title.
Cole Ogden, the medalist, bumped Jonathon Oettli, 2 and 1, and in a battle of seniors Jeff Powars ousted Brett Sampson, 4 and 3. Connor Jones posted the biggest victory margin of the Thursday morning round, a 6 and 5 win over JTY Timmons.
Round of 32 ResultsJon Wright def. Preston Richards, 3 and 2Nathan Nyman def. Mike Jorgensen, 5 and 4Jordan Hammer def. Sammy Cole, 3 and 2Dan Horner def. Ryan Brimley, 4 and 3Joe Parkinson def. Todd Barker, 3 and 2John Owen def. Jordan Rodgers, 19 holesJoey Olson def. Eric Rustand, 19 holesJeff Evans def. Clark Jones, 2 and 1Cole Ogden def. Jonathon Oettli, 2 and 1Kai Ruiz def. Jacob Wagstaff, 3 and 2Tanner Higham def. Kirk Siddens, 5 and 4Jeff Powars def. Brett Sampson, 4 and 3Jacob Holt def. Christian Jensen, 4 and 3Kelton Hirsch def. Stratton Schulz, 20 holesConnor Jones def. JT Timmons, 6 and 5Charlie Duensing def. Seokown Jeon, 4 and 2
Round of 16 ResultsJon Wright def. Nate Nyman, 3 and 2Dan Horner def. Jordan Hammer, 8 and 7 (Horner had seven birdies and no bogeys in 12 holes)Joe Parkinson def. John Owen, 5 and 4Jeff Evans def. Joey Olson, 3 and 1Cole Ogden def. Kai Ruiz, 5 and 4Jeff Powars def. Tanner Higham, 19 holesJacob Holt def. Kevin Hirsch, 2-upConnor Jones def. Charlie Duensing, 20 holes
Friday’s ScheduleMorning Quarterfinals7:30- Jon Wright vs. Dan Horner7:45- Joe Parkinson vs. Jeff Evans8:00- Cole Ogden vs. Jeff Powars8:15- Jacob Holt vs. Connor Jones
Afternoon Semifinals1:30- Winner of Wright-Horner vs. winner Parkinson-Evans1:45- Winner of Holt-Jones vs. winner of Ogden-Powars