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117th Utah State Am Begins Monday at Soldier Hollow
The 117th Utah State Amateur, the oldest continuously held tournament in the world, tees off Monday morning at Soldier Hollow with 288 players beginning a two-day 36-hole quest to be one of the 63 players plus defending champion Jon Wright who will advance to the match play portion of the tournament.
“This tournament is the annual gathering of the best amateur players in Utah golf and it is the highlight of the year,” said UGA Executive Director Bill Walker. “Soldier Hollow is ready for us, the volunteers are in place, and now it is up to the players to perform to the best of their abilities,” he said.
First round pairings have been announced and are posted on this web page.
The tournament covers every day of the week except Sunday. It begins on Monday and concludes on Saturday. Monday and Tuesday are qualifying sessions. Match play begins Wednesday with the Round of 64. The rounds of 32 and 16 are played on Thursday, and the quarters and semis are played on Friday. The 36-hole championship match is Saturday. The annual Breakfast of Champions will be held Thursday morning prior to the Round of 32.
Defending champion Jon Wright is the automatic number one seed in match play and he will play the 64th seed in the first round of match play on Wednesday. He won the championship in 2012 at his home course at The Country Club, and then won it again last year at Ogden Country Club. In 2013 at Soldier Hollow he advanced to the quarterfinals but lost to Dan Horner.
There are eight other former champions in the field this year and another five players who have been runnerups. The former champions in addition to two-time champion Wright are Joe Parkinson, Darrin Overson, Dan Horner, Nick Nelson, Michael McRae, Steve Borget, Todd Barker, and Jason Wight. Horner won the championship when it was held at Soldier Hollow in 2008.
Former runnerups in the field are last year’s runnerup Preston Richards along with Kirk Siddens, Christian Jensen, Carl Jensen, and John Tagge.
Of the 285 players in the field there are 115 with plus handicaps, the lowest being Seokown Jeon, who is certainly one of the pre-tourney favorites. His handicap is plus 4.5 and he is the recent winner of the Art City Amateur.
The UGA does not have birthdates for 17 players in the field, but of the dates available the youngest are 14-year-olds Josh Rooker and Zachary Neff. Josh is three weeks the younger. The oldest is Pat Waldram at 64. There are 25 players that are over 50 years old.
All players were either exempt from qualifying because of pre-determined exemptions or won spots in the tournament at one of the 11 qualifying tournaments held throughout the state the past month.
The top ten players on the UGA Player Performance list going into the tournament are in order, Rhett Rasmussen, Joe Parkinson, Jordan Rodgers, Jon Wright, Darrin Overson, Kai Ruiz, Kurt Owen, Brandon Kida, Dan Horner, and Jason Hargett. All of them are entered.
Soldier Hollow has an illustrious history of hosting the Utah State Am. It first hosted the tournament in 2006 with Tony Finau defeating Daniel Summerhays in the final match. Dan Horner defeated Devin Daniels in 2008. In 2011 Jeff Evans defeated Stratton Shulz, and in 2013 Cole Ogden defeated Jeff Evans.
Endurance will be a big factor in the outcome. Players are permitted to ride carts throughout qualifying and during the rounds of 64, 32 and 16 but are required to walk for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Monday- First round of qualifying
Tuesday- Second round of qualifying
Wednesday- Round of 64 (match play)
Thursday- Breakfast of Champions; Round of 32, Round of 16
Friday- Quarterfinals, Semifinals
Saturday- 36-hole championship match