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Underdog Seeds Advance to Quarterfinals; Dearden Defeats No. 1 Seed

No. 48 Seed Kyler Dearden (photo by Jesse Dodson, Boatwright Intern)


By Megan Terry


The match play portion of the 118th Utah State Amateur Championship at Alpine Country Club has turned out to be exactly what brackets generally are, dangerously unpredictable. Wednesday’s Round of 64 included minor upsets left and right, but nothing too shocking ensued.

The 18-year-old No. 1 seed, Carson Lundell, had most of the day off after defeating Brett Sampson 7 and 6. Despite the change in playing format, Lundell remained in the zone after 36 holes of stroke play and was five under after six holes with birdies on the first two and an eagle on the par-5 No. 5. Clearly, he was off and running from the start once again.

Of the five past champions to make match play (Steve Borget (1985), Dan Horner (2008), Darrin Overson (1998), Clark Rustand (2004), and Jon Wright (2012, 2014)), Borget and Horner were the only two who advanced to the Round of 32. Borget faced Lundell in an attempt to break the bracket, while Horner took on close friend Brandon Kida.

The upsets started rolling in more frequently during Thursday morning’s Round of 32. No. 48 seed Kyler Dearden defeated 2016 UGA Winterchamps Senior Division champion Patrick Murphy (16) 1 up. Murphy was up on Dearden 10 out of the first 12 holes before the Weber State athlete turned things around with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14.

The No. 61 seed, Aaron Smith, made match play after surviving a 14-way playoff for the last five spots. Smith created the upset of the day after defeating John Owen (29) 2 and 1. Owen was up a majority of the match, but Smith refused to let his seed determine the outcome and finally gained the upper hand with a birdie on Alpine’s No. 13.

No. 37 seed Reed Nielsen defeated past champion and No. 5 seed Clark Rustand 1 up in the Round of 32. Nielsen was 1 up on Rustand starting on the second hole and remained up the rest of the day. He was as many as 3 up through 10 holes before losing some momentum. Rustand gained a couple back with birdies on Nos. 14 and 17, but Nielsen was able to hold his ground with a birdie on 15 to go 2 up and finish strong to advance to the Round of 16.

Utah Ute Brandon Kida (13) had a long day on Thursday starting when his Round of 32 match versus past champion and No. 20 seed Dan Horner went 23 holes. Kida’s stamina was tested in the afternoon as well when his Round of 16 match against Aaron Smith went 19 holes. Fortunately for Kida, Horner stuck around and caddied for him, but Smith continued his winning streak with a birdie on the 19th hole.

The bracket was busted Thursday afternoon when Weber State Wildcat Kyler Dearden (48) defeated No. 1 seed Carson Lundell in the Round of 16. Lundell was becoming everyone’s top pick after his two-day stroke play finish at thirteen-under-par (65-66–131) and quick Rounds of 64 and 32 wins. However, Dearden overlooked the intimidation factor Lundell’s impressive start to the week exuded and played one of his best rounds to date. The match was back and forth all day, but the Wildcat’s birdie on 16 put him 1 up and stayed that way. He held out against the talented 18-year-old and advanced to the quarterfinals pumped and ready to win.

Friday will include both the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. The first quarterfinal match of the day will begin at 8 a.m. between Kyler Dearden (48) and Brady Stanger (9). Spectators are welcome.

CLICK HERE to view the updated match play bracket.