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Utah-Arizona Shootout Begins Monday at Sand Hollow
The 23rd annual Utah-Arizona Shootout will tee it up Monday and Tuesday at Sand Hollow Golf Course with Utah holding a slim 11-10-1 lead in the back and forth series. The two teams tied last year for the first time in 22 years.
It is the first time the event has been held in the St. George area and Sand Hollow is a marvelous site for the event. It is a short traveling distance for each team and the weather will be more dependable this time of year.
During the first nine years the home team won every match with Utah breaking service in the tenth year at Pinnacle Peak Country Club in Tempe. Utah also won the next year which gave it a 3-up lead in the series and it remains the biggest advantage either team has held in the series.
Arizona won four straight matches from 2002 through 2005 which is the most consecutive wins for either side. The 12-person teams consist of eight at large players, two seniors, and two women. The first day includes foursomes and four-ball formats, and Tuesday is an individual format. The point system is different than the Ryder Cup in that each match is under the Nassau scoring system of a point for the front nine, a point for the back nine, and a point for the 18.
Utah has four Utah State Amateur champions on its formidable roster including Zac Blair, Jon Wright, Jeff Evans, and Utah Women’s State Am champion Kelsey Chugg.
Blair has been UGA Player of the Year for four consecutive seasons and will likely earn the title again this year, a feat no other player has achieved. College players are not eligible for the Shootout and so having concluded his BYU career this will be his first Shootout, and likely his last. He is expected to turn professional in the very near future.
Other At Large players on the Utah team include veterans Jeff Jolley and Brandon Hargett and rookies Carey Shinkle, David Jennings, and Tommy Forsman.
Steve Poulson and Bill Probst will be the Utah senior duo. Poulson has played in 11 of the 22 Shootouts, but this will be his first time playing in the Senior category. He is the all-time leading scorer in the Shootout.
Annette Gaiotti joins Kelsey Chugg in the women’s lineup. They just returned from representing Utah in the USGA Women’s State Team championship. Gaiotti, 60, is the oldest player in the tournament and has been a stalwart for the Utah side in five previous Shootouts. Chugg, at 22, is the youngest player in the matches.
Arizona is bringing a strong team of enthusiastic players intent on squaring the series with a victory after its disappointing tie last year at the Karsten course in Tempe.
Arizona came up a half-point short of squaring the series. The tie taught both teams the importance of every half-point and so there will be no let ups by the players of either team this year. A half-point is available by tying one of the nines in an 18-hole match.
Arizona is fielding two strong players in the women’s division and being one of the great states in the nation for retirement it always has a strong senior duo.
Arizona is led by playing captain Trey Martin. Utah’s non-playing captain is UGA board member Kurt Bernhisel.