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Off Early, Brown Jumps to Early Lead at Sand Hollow Open
Pictured: Kahkai Brown, Sand Hollow Open first-round leader
By Randy Dodson, Fairways Media
Hurricane, Utah – Colorado’s Zahkai Brown can’t be faulted for strolling the fairways of Sand Hollow Resort with a grin. The last 60 days have been pretty good to the 26-year-old professional golfer.
A late August win at the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open, a honeymoon in Tahiti, a top 10 finish at the New Mexico Open and an opening 9-hole charge to the top of the Sand Hollow Open leaderboard have Brown in a happy place.
Starting the tournament on the Championship Course’s back nine, Brown eagled his first hole of the day, carded three birdies in a row on some of Utah’s most stunning golf holes, made par on the par 4 14th hole and then made another birdie on the par 3 15th. 6-under through 6-holes will get you to the top of any leaderboard – quickly. Brown finished his opening nine with a three putt par on his 8th hole (the par 5 17th) and a bogey on the par 4 18th rounded out his 9-hole score of 31.
Brown’s early tee-time and lead proved beneficial as the winds of Hurricane, Utah picked up while he was playing his last 9-holes of the day. Still, Brown managed to birdie two of his last three holes to finish with a 7-under 65 and leads by 1-stroke over Jim Knous (-6, 66) and two-strokes over those tied for third place, former Utah Open champion Nick Mason, Ty Travis, Harold Calubid and St. George local Dusty Fielding, all at 5-under, 67.
Mason is fresh off his first place finish in the New Mexico Open, were Knous finished tied for fifth place.
The Sand Hollow Open presented by the Leavitt group began its championship run with a pro am competition Wednesday to benefit the Utah Foster Care. The tournament sponsors have added $40,000 to the purse this year with a first place check of $18,000 making it the second highest first place check of any Utah tournament outside of the Web.Com Tour’s Utah Championship. Brown collected $21,000 for his win at the Utah Open.
Defending champion, PGA TOUR member Zac Blair struggled with a few bad bounces and some lipped out putts during his opening round, finishing with a 1-under, 71. Other Utah professionals joining Fielding in the top 10 are Joe Parkinson, Stu Gold and Justin Keiley at T8, 3-under par.
The 54-hole stroke play championship was delayed for 25 minutes just after the start of the tournament as an unusual fog bank, nicknamed the “Virgin River marine layer” by a local rules official, settled around the course and prevented play due to low visibility.
A 36-hole cut will come after tomorrow’s second round with the final round coming on Saturday at Sand Hollow Resort.