Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

Lila Galea’i will play another Championship Saturday at Copper Rock

Referring to Lila Galea’i as a former BYU golfer sounds strange, barely three years after she graduated early from high school to join the Cougar program for the spring season.

Regardless of the label, the former Women’s State Amateur winner is seemingly both a different player and the same person in her second Copper Rock Championship appearance. Galea’i’s 3-under-par 69 in Friday’s second round enabled her to comfortably make the cut again at Copper Rock Golf Course in Hurricane, as she performed by far the best of the four collegians who received sponsor exemptions.

Lila Galea’i’s 3-under-par 69 in Friday’s second round enabled her to comfortably make the cut again at the Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

Galea’i moved into the top 25 on a day when New Zealand’s Fiona Xu tied the course record with a 63. Xu is 14 under par for the tournament, entering Saturday’s final round with a two-stroke lead over Kaleigh Telfer.

Former Utah Women’s State Amateur champ, Kendra Dalton (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

LPGA Epson Tour veteran Kendra Dalton, another former Women’s State Am champ in her BYU days, struggled in the afternoon wind and missed the cut. Dalton posted an 80 after an opening-round 70.

Galea’i took advantage of much more favorable conditions in the morning. A day after lamenting a bunch of missed putts, Galea’i solved that issue on her first and last holes of the day. Starting on the par-4 No. 10, she chipped in for a birdie. And she finished with a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 9, completing a 72-69 start that almost duplicated last year’s first two rounds at Copper Rock. Competing as an amateur, she’s promising to play aggressively Saturday, “just to see if I can put up a good number,” she said.

What’s becoming clear is that she can thrive as a pro someday, if her scoring ability catches up to her ball-striking strength. Maybe there’s some reduced pressure because she’s not yet trying to build a professional career, unlike Dalton and others in the field, but Galea’i sure looks like she belongs at this level.

I definitely feel comfortable out here and don’t really get nervous at all,” she said. “That putt on (No. 9), I’m sure last year I would have been shaking.”

Galea’i is in position to top her tie for 29th place in 2023, when she shot 72-68-68. None of the players from schools in Southern Utah and Nevada made the cut, although Utah Tech’s Grace Williams (72), UNLV’s Toa Yokoyama (76) SUU’s Anais Guibal (78) each improved in the second round.

As for Dalton, a rough back nine ended the momentum she had generated in the first six events of her sixth Epson Tour season. She was inside the cut line after birdieing the par-5 No. 1 (her 10th hole), but a double bogey on the par-5 No. 5 pretty much ended her hopes of playing Saturday.


Story by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe.