Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

State Am Round 2: BYU’s Tyson Shelley is the medalist and an epic playoff decides the last three spots

Much like BYU golf teammates Simon Kwon and Cole Ponich, Tyson Shelley became somewhat forgotten while redshirting during the 2023-24 school year.

126th Utah State Amateur stroke play qualifying medalist, Tyson Shelley. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

So it is worth remembering what Shelley did last summer, especially in the context of his stroke-play performance this week at Ogden Golf & Country Club. He won the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur in British Columbia and finished in the top 15 of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship in Farmington.

Even if the state of his game was mildly mysterious coming into the 126th Utah State Amateur Championship, nothing Shelley did in two stroke-play rounds should be surprising. Shelley birdied the par-3 No. 18 on Tuesday, earning medalist honors by one stroke over Ponich.

Austin Shelley captured the #64 seed in a 16 for 3 spots playoff to face #1 seed and older brother, Tyson Shelley. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy)

Match play began Wednesday morning, following an epic playoff to determine the last three berths in the 64-golfer bracket. The 16-player competition set a State Am record, topping the 14-for-11 battle in 2021 at Alpine Country Club. It took three holes to finalize the advancing threesome of Caleb Norton, David Jennings and Austin Shelley, Tyson’s younger brother.

Austin Shelley became the final survivor with a par on No. 18, making him the No. 64 seed and sending him against his brother in a first-round match Wednesday afternoon.

As for the medalist raceShelley posted 67-65 for an 8-under-par total. He’s happy with his game and loves being back in competition after his redshirt year. Thanks to conflicts with national events, Shelley has rarely played in the State Amateur, mostly recently making the round of 16 at Jeremy Ranch in 2020.

Shelley won six matches in claiming the 2020 Utah State Junior Amateur title, so he’s suited to match play. Yet he’s best known for going low in stroke play, such as shooting 65-63 on Soldier Hollow’s Silver Course in a Class 5A state tournament and winning the Pacific Coast Am with a closing 62.

Shelley bogeyed the par-4 No. 17 to drop into a tie with Ponich, then birdied the finishing hole after hitting a 9-iron to within 6 feet of the hole. Aware that he had been tied with Ponich, Shelley said, “It’s fun competing against all my teammates, really.”

John Fox’s 63 on day two was the low round of the 36-hole stroke play qualifying. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

Olympus High School graduate John Fox delivered the best round of the tournament, a 7-under 63 that gave him the No. 3 seed for match play. Fox went birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in shooting a front-nine 30. As club members play the course, he finished the day 9 under, three shots off the course record set by Patrick Fishburn, the club’s homegrown PGA Tour player.

David Liechty, the 2023 runner-up to Kwon, placed fourth and Kwon tied for fifth with BYU teammate Cooper Jones.

Other notable developments In Round 2:

Zac Jones was leading the medalist race until he hit two balls out of bounds and made an 8 on the par-4 No. 13, a hole he had eagled in the first round. Jones bogeyed the last two holes and ended up tied for ninth. He’s the No. 10 seed and could meet his brother Cooper (No. 5) only in the final match.

Former champions advancing to match play included Darrin Overson (1998),Dan Horner (2008), Cole Ogden (2013), Zac Jones (2022) and Kwon. Jon Wright, the 2014 winner in Ogden, made it to the third playoff hole before being eliminated in a process that went from 16 for 3, to 8 for 1 and then 5 for 1.

Horner can add to his remarkable match-play performance of two decades. He needs one win to become solo second all-time in victories. Five wins would move him into the finals and lift him above the legendary Billy Korns. By reaching the quarterfinals for a 10th time, he would top Korns in that category. 

Jack Summerhays (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

Farmington High School junior Jack Summerhays finished birdie-par to clinch a match-play spot. He extended his family’s appearances in that stage of the State Am to 99 years, starting with his great-grandfather, Pres Summerhays.

In their early 50s, Shane McMillan and John Owen are at the other end of the match-play age scale. Owen was a State Am semifinalist two years ago and McMillan is the UGA’s two-time Senior Men’s Player of the Year.

Jennings (79-69) made the most significant improvement Tuesday, getting into a playoff for the second straight year. As the No. 63 seed last summer, he upset No. 2 Davis Johnson in the first round.

Utah State Amateur day two feature written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe.