News

Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

State Am Round of 64: Tyson Shelley barely tops his brother on a weird day for BYU golfers

When he was making birdie after birdie on Ogden Golf & Country Club’s front nine, Tyson Shelley hardly could have imagined going to the 17th hole tied with his youngest brother.

Yet that’s where Shelley found himself in the first round of match play in the 126th Utah State Amateur Championship, on a day when nearly all of the highly seeded BYU golfers were having to agonize. Shelley wanted to avoid being part of the most memorable match between brothers and becoming the biggest story among the Cougars.

BYU’s Tyson Shelley, the stroke play medalist and #1 see, advanced to Thursday morning’s Round of 32. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

He succeeded, barely.

Tyson’s 1-up victory over Austin gave the Shelleys of Salt Lake City a place in State Am lore with the Ridds and two sets of Summerhayses. The stroke-play medalist’s survival came while defending champion Simon Kwon was losing, Cole Ponich was having to play 22 holes and Zac Jones was being extended to No. 18. Of the five Cougars seeded in the top 10, only Cooper Jones was a comfortable winner (8 and 6).

Former champion, Zac Jones, also advanced to the Round of 32. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson)

That preserves the possibility of a Jones brothers’ meeting in the final match, which would be a State Am first. The battle would complete a bracket that included the unprecedented meeting of brothers seeded Nos. 1 and 64.

The pairing was made possible when Tyson birdied No. 18 on Tuesday and earned medalist honors by one stroke over Ponich. As the scores evolved later in the day, a 16-for-3 playoff became necessary to fill the bracket.

That competition was staged Wednesday morning. Austin Shelley was the third player to advance, via a par on the third hole, making him the No. 64 seed.

Austin Shelley was the last player into match play, surviving a 16 for 3 playoff Wednesday morning. (Photo: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

The most memorable meeting of brothers in the State Am has to be the 23-hole semifinal duel between twins Craig and Kean Ridd at Alpine Country Club in 1967, with Craig winning. The previous year, Bruce Summerhays topped his younger brother Lynn in the semifinals at Oakridge Country Club. And then in 2001 at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course, Lynn’s sons Daniel and Boyd met in the quarterfinals, with Daniel winning.

That was the most awkward golf experience I’ve ever had,” Daniel said some years later. “Nobody was happy when it was over, not even me.”

In that context, it was fascinating to peek inside the minds of Brian and Solhee Shelley. They were thrilled to have Austin make match play, then hoped he could last a while vs. Tyson, then realized he might actually win. Which would mean Tyson losing as one of the tournament favorites. So it all probably worked out well for the parents in the end, which is not to say that Austin was satisfied with the result.

In each of those other cases, the sibling winner went on to claim the State Am title. Tyson Shelley hopes to extend the trend, as match play continues with two rounds each Thursday and Friday and the 36-hole final Saturday.

Tyson repeatedly used the word “fun” to describe the sibling duel, but winning was not easy. He was 4 up through seven holes, even while Austin was tying two holes with birdies. “Playing against your brother is not always something you want to do in a competitive match like this,” Tyson said. But “it was fun, for sure. … I’m proud of him.”

Austin, who will be a Skyline High School junior (he’s transferring from Olympus to join middle brother Jackson), won four of the first seven holes on the back nine. A slightly errant drive ended up costing him No. 17, though. And he was disappointed to lose, after almost chipping in for a birdie on No. 18 with a chance to keep playing.

Unfortunately, couldn’t get it done,” Austin said. “I had a lot of momentum going into (No. 17), and thought I could come out with the win.”

Tyson’s win came on a day when 16 of the 32 matches went to No. 18 or beyond. Aidan Thain, a former Western Washington golfer, never trailed in his 1-up defeat of Kwon, who had another player’s drive glance off his head in Tuesday’s stroke-play second round. Whether or not the blow affected his play, it signified a weird week for a golfer who had gone 11-1 in State Am matches the past two years before running into Thain.

Junior golf stars Bowen Mauss and Lincoln Markham also lost, while one of the day’s few conventional results was a match-play win for Dan Horner. His 34th victory makes him No. 2 all-time, three shy of Billy Korns’ record.

Utah State Amateur Round of 64 match play recap feature written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe.