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4 favorites advance to Utah Women’s State Amateur golf semifinals

By: Mike Sorensen, Deseret News

MIDWAY — Before the week started, if you had picked four golfers to make it to the semifinals of the Utah Women’s Amateur, you couldn’t have gone wrong choosing Tess Blair, Kelsey Chugg, Grace Summerhays and Kerstin Fotu.

Three are former champions and the other lost in last year’s finals and is already one of the top junior golfers in the nation.

While the aforementioned golfers indeed advanced to the semifinals Thursday, none had an easy time and could easily have been eliminated with tough matches Wednesday.

Blair, the 2018 champion who captured medalist honors Tuesday, was taken to the final hole by former high school teammate Carissa Graft.

Four-time champion Chugg had to win two overtime matches against 16-year-olds, beating Berlin Long in 21 holes in the morning and long-hitting Apelila Galeai in 20 holes in the afternoon.

Last year’s runnerup, Summerhays, had to overcome a hole-in-one sandwiched between two birdies by Timpview High golfer Sunbin Seo in her afternoon match to win 2 and 1.

Defending champion Fotu, who barely made it into match play after an opening-round 82, came from behind in both her matches Wednesday to advance, the latter against BYU teammate Naomi Soifua.

So that leaves a couple of intriguing semifinal matches, the first featuring the 19-year-old Blair going against the “veteran” Chugg, the 29-year-old former champion of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, and the second being a rematch of last year’s State Am final when Fotu defeated Summerhays 1 up at Logan Country Club.

The winners of the semifinal matches will meet Thursday around noon in the finals.

“I’m getting too old, these young girls play 36 a day probably,” said Chugg. “I was worn out after the first 18 and hung in there. But this was a really fun day. To be able to pull this off against these young girls — I was outdriven by Lila by 100 yards a couple of times, it’s insane.”

On that hole, Chugg hit her approach from the fairway within 4 feet and after Galeai missed a 12-foot birdie try, Chugg sank her winning putt and let out a whoop.

Summerhays, who lives in Arizona and comes to Utah every summer, is hoping to reverse last year’s finals loss to Fotu. She cruised past Launa Wilson 6 and 5 in the morning and was 4 up on Seo, when Seo birdied No. 11, aced the par-3 12th and then made birdie at 13. The match ended at 17 when Summerhays made a 7-footer and Seo missed her 6-footer.

“I’m excited — I can’t wait to test my game against hers because it’s changed since last year,” Summerhays said of her match with Fotu. “My short game has gotten a lot better and I’ve gained some distance — it should be a really good match.”

Blair had little trouble in her morning match disposing of San Jose State golfer Jadan Gonzalez 7 and 6. Against Graft, her Bingham High teammate who played for Indiana Tech last year, Blair lost three early holes and was still down after 10 holes. She lost hole 17 with a bogey to put the match back to even, but won at 18 when she two-putted from 30 feet and Graft couldn’t get up and down from a tough spot right of the green.

Fotu defeated Southern Utah golfer Chanikan Yongyuan 2 up in the morning and broke away from Soifua, a former State Am finalist, with a stretch of four straight wins on holes 11-14.


First-round results

Tess Blair def. Jadan Gonzalez 7 & 6

Carissa Graft def. Taitum Beck, 19 holes

Kelsey Chugg def. Berlin Long, 21 holes

Lila Galeai def. Laura Gerner 1 up

Grace Summerhays def. Launa Wilson 6 & 5

Sunbin Seo def. Poy Prasurtwong 6 & 5

Kerstin Fotu def. Chanikan Yongyuan 2 up

Naomi Soifua def. Rachel Lillywhite 4 & 3

Second-round results

Blair def. Graft 1 up

Chugg def. Galeai, 20 holes

Summerhays def. Seo 2 & 1

Fotu def. Soifua 3 & 2

Thursday schedule


8 a.m. — Blair vs. Chugg

8:10 a.m. — Summerhays vs. Fotu


Noon — Blair-Chugg winner vs. Summerhays-Fotu winner