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Former Women’s State Am champ’s eagle highlights Utahns’ Day 1 of the Copper Rock Championship

The “Y” flag posted next to Copper Rock Golf Course’s No. 9 green was not even moving when Kendra Dalton stood in the fairway Thursday morning. The absence of wind was a rare occurrence in Hurricane. So was the shot the former BYU golfer and Utah Women’s State Amateur champion delivered.

Struck with a pitching wedge from 120 yards out, Dalton’s ball one-hopped into the hole. The eagle highlighted Dalton’s 2-under-par 70 in the opening round of the LPGA Epson Tour’s Copper Rock Championship.

“Golf’s hard,” Dalton said with a smile, “so it’s nice when things work out, you know?”

Epson Tour member Kendra Dalton won the 2016 Utah Women’s State Amateur at Victory Ranch Golf Club.

Dalton is the only professional in the field with Utah ties, but three golfers from in-state schools, plus UNLV, are playing this week via sponsor exemptions. The BYU flag, honoring 2021 State Am champ Lila Galea’i, is flying next to those of Southern Utah University (Anais Guibal), Utah Tech (Grace Williams) and UNLV (Toa Yokoyama).

Galea’i, who completed her BYU eligibility in April, tied for 29th in last year’s Copper Rock Championship. She opened this tournament with a 72, a fourth straight round of par or better, and is just inside the cut line. Williams (78), Guibal (80) and Yokoyama (81) have considerable work to do Friday.

Utah Tech’s Grace Williams, a 2023 Women’s State Am semifinalist, will need a low round Friday to make the cut.

Dalton’s “2” on No. 9 moved her to 4 under par for the day, making a 70 seem mildly disappointing as Dalton tried to keep up with the eventual leaders. Alena Sharp and Kaleigh Telfer each posted a 64.

In her sixth Epson Tour season, though, Dalton has a healthy perspective, not dwelling on how a good round could have been even better. Her bogeys on the par-4 Nos. 13 and 14 “could have been avoided,” she said, “but I played really solid. … It was a good start.”

And a continuation of her strong play in 2024. Dalton has made the 36-hole cut in five of six events, with best finishes of ties for seventh and 13th places. BYU coach Carrie Roberts is caddying for her this week, and likes the way Dalton is swinging.

Dalton’s ambitions go well beyond merely making cuts, but advancing to Saturday’s final round would be an improvement over her last two visits to Hurricane. She tied for 45th place in the inaugural Copper Rock Championship in 2021.

Galea’i, the reigning Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open champion, is considering turning pro while targeting her BYU degree in 2025. Her academic and college golf calendars were altered by her early graduation from Lehi High School in December 2020.

Lila Galea’i, the 2021 Utah Women’s State Amateur champ, is hoping for a better putting round Friday in order to make the cut at Copper Rock.

Having shot 72-68-68 at Copper Rock last year, Galea’i was left wishing for something better than even par Thursday. “That’s always been my problem, just making putts,” she said. “I can hit good drives, I can hit pure irons, but sometimes my putting is just inches off. Honestly, it’s just my putting that I wish I could have done better, but I’ve been saying that for a minute now.”

Galea’i blasted several drives of more than 300 yards, but she birdied only one of Copper Rock’s four par-5 holes and missed a short birdie attempt on the par-3 No. 17.

Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship opening round leaderboard.


Written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.