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Ute golfer Mitchell Schow tops teammate Blake Tomlinson for State Am title

Jeremy Ranch • Holding the State Amateur’s traveling trophy as he stood on the No. 16 green Saturday, University of Utah golfer Mitchell Schow understood what he accomplished at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club. Exactly how he did it, though? That’s another story.

Schow’s blitzing of Ute teammate Blake Tomlinson in a five-hole stretch on the back nine of the morning round will give the 122nd State Am its own place in tournament history. That stunning stretch powered Schow to a 3-and-2 victory in the scheduled 36-hole final match.

Asked if he could have imagined either player doing something like that in such a setting, Schow sounded surprised by the question. “Did I win five straight holes? If I did, that’s crazy.”

• Mitchell Schow becomes the first active University of Utah golfer to win the State Amateur since the late Eric Hogg in 1981, defeating Ute teammate Blake Tomlinson 3 and 2 in the 36-hole final Saturday at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club.
• After being 5 down, Tomlinson makes up three holes as of No. 8 in the afternoon round, but Schow regains control with a birdie on No. 10.
• The 2021 State Am is booked for Alpine Country Club, with Thanksgiving Point GC also used in stroke-play qualifying.

He did, and it was both remarkable and necessary — considering that run accounted for half of the 10 holes Schow won (to Tomlinson’s seven) in the 34-hole duel. Playing a course that hosted his first tryout round as a Park City High School freshman eight years ago, Schow went on a historic roll.

The burst of birdie, par, birdie, birdie and eagle from Nos. 12-16 sent him from 1 down to 4 up, then he went 5 up by winning No. 18 before the break between rounds.

The teammates ate lunch together, extending the friendly theme of the match, and then Tomlinson managed to make things interesting.

“I just knew I had to keep cool,” said Tomlinson, a Skyline High alumnus.

He won four of the next eight holes (with one loss) to get within 2 down and liked his chances to complete an amazing comeback. “I had a little bit of momentum, [but] I knew Mitch was still playing great golf. I was going to have to beat him; he wasn’t going to beat himself,” Tomlinson said.

That drive on No. 9 demands further discussion, though. The hole plays 500 yards from the back tee and Tomlinson had only 75 yards remaining. The math is somewhat deceiving on the dogleg-right hole, as Tomlinson took his ball over some houses with a bit of an unintentional fade. Schow had 185 yards for his approach after a good drive of his own, and played it almost as well.

That sequence illustrated an obvious theme of this match. “He didn’t really have that intimidation factor against me, because I’ve played against him for so long,” Schow said, admiringly. “It’s crazy how far he hits it. … He’s one of the greatest players Utah’s ever seen, so to beat him, I think it really caps off playing well and beating a high-quality competitor.”

Even so, Schow’s win was not unexpected and his performance featured some memorable shots, like his 4-iron from 225 yards on the par-5 No. 13 in the afternoon, leading to a conceded eagle. He set a school scoring-average record in the seven tournaments of Utah’s pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season and has qualified for PGA Tour LatinoAmerica. Schow intends to play another senior year for the Utes as the NCAA is allowing, although if the international tour gets going, he may alter those plans quickly.

Wherever he goes from here, he’ll be remembered for winning the all-Ute final match at Jeremy Ranch, where former teammate Kyler Dunkle (the 2018 State Am runner-up) caddied for Schow. The bigger-than-usual gallery included coaches Garrett Clegg and Chance Cain, several Ute golfers and athletes from other sports.

The caddies carried matching Ute golf bags. Staying true to his offbeat nature, though, Schow modeled a tan cap that he ordered from Brownsboro, Texas. So a golfer who once won the Salt Lake City Amateur in a fishing hat and T-shirt claimed the State Am with a Whiskey Ranch cap. Mitchell Schow played his own way at Jeremy Ranch, and it worked for him.

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Two Utes will meet in the final match of the 122nd State Amateur

Mitchell Schow plays in the 122nd Utah State Amateur at Jeremy Ranch on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. Fairways Media/Randy Dodson
Mitchell Schow plays in the 122nd Utah State Amateur at Jeremy Ranch on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

Jeremy Ranch • At the end of the longest semifinal round in State Amateur history, University of Utah golfer Blake Tomlinson stood beside Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club’s No. 3 green, waiting to congratulate his college teammate and upcoming opponent.

Mitchell Schow asked Tomlinson, “How’d your match go?”

Tomlinson replied, “Awfully similar to yours.”

The two Utes will tee off at 8 a.m. Saturday in a scheduled 36-hole match that could last longer, judging by Friday’s events. Tomlinson and Schow each won No. 18 in regulation to stay alive, extending a day that included Schow’s defeating Ute freshman Brandon Robison 4 and 3 in the morning quarterfinals.

Tomlinson’s match with Vincent was “awesome … thrilling, to say the least,” he said. “I guess I just made the clutch shots when I needed to.”

That’s accurate. He nearly holed a wedge shot from 75 yards on No. 18, leading to a birdie to extend the match. And then his two nice wedges on each of the two extra holes set up birdies, with the second one finally eliminating Vincent. Afterward, the players’ fathers hugged each other, feeling both drained an exhilarated from watching an intense match.

Saturday’s pairing reminds Tomlinson of the 2018 semifinals at Oakridge Country Club, where he lost to then-teammate Kyler Dunkle. Before facing Robison, Schow had beaten Braxton Watts, another incoming Utah freshman, in Thursday’s round of 16.

That’s an exaggeration. Tomlinson, a Skyline High School graduate, is a senior academically, although he has two more years of eligibility after the 2020 spring season ended early due to COVID-19. Schow, who moved from Ogden to Park City for high school, expected to be finished with college by now, but chose to take the NCAA’s offer of an extra year. If not for the coronavirus that canceled the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica schedule, he would have turned pro this summer.

As he said earlier this week, “Five, six months ago, if someone had told me I’d be playing in the State Am, I would have said they were crazy.”

Yet here he is, facing a teammate in the final match. Once he heard that Tomlinson had advanced, just as he was starting extra holes, Schow was even more determined to get there.

Schow and Christensen tied 10 straight holes (Nos. 7-16), before Christensen won No. 17 and Schow took No. 18, each with a par. Schow had chances to win with birdies on the first two extra holes, but putted too cautiously and Christensen made tough pars.

As he stood in the par-5 No. 3 fairway, Schow said, “I knew I had to step up and hit a good shot or I was going to get beat.”

He came through, knocking a 6-iron from 205 yards to within 12 feet. His eagle putt became unnecessary, after Christensen three-putted from the back fringe. Even so, Christensen could say he lost to an eagle and Schow was happy to drill the putt, for the sake of a more memorable finish.

Blake Tomlinson def. Dan Horner, 4 and 2; Jake Vincent def. Daren Johnson, 2 and 1; Mitchell Schow def. Brandon Robison, 4 and 3; Hayden Christensen def. Luke Crapo, 1 up.
Tomlinson def. Vincent, 1 up (20); Schow def. Christensen, 1 up (21).
Saturday’s final match
Tomlinson vs. Schow, 36 holes, 8 a.m.


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State Amateur ‘Elite Eight’ will feature a strong group of golfers

By: Mike Sorensen, Deseret News

PARK CITY — The talk at the start of the Utah State Amateur this week was the absence of two-time defending champion Preston Summerhays, who is playing in a big junior tournament in Florida this week.

While Summerhays might have been the favorite, he would have had a hard time making it three in a row, based on the quality of golfers in this year’s tournament at Jeremy Ranch Country Club.

Just look at the eight golfers who have survived to make it to Friday’s quarterfinals.

The list includes a former champion, a former medalist who holds the record for lowest medal score in history, a former Nevada Amateur champion, the low amateur at last month’s Utah Open, a collegiate player of the year, a current collegiate golfer, a former collegiate golfer and a top high school golfer, who will be playing college golf later this year.

Dan Horner is the former champion, who won in 2008 at Soldier Hollow. The 42-year-old has been one of the best golfers in the state since moving from New Jersey nearly two decades ago. He beat Peyton Hastings 4 and 3 in the morning and came back from three down to edge Dixie State golfer Davis Heslington 2 up in the afternoon.

He’ll have his hands full Friday against Blake Tomlinson, a University of Utah golfer who made the State Am semifinals two years ago in his only State Amateur appearance. Tomlinson, who shot a pair of 64s to win State Am medalist honors in 2018, got by Skyline High golfer Simon Kwon in the first round and beat co-medalist and Jeremy Ranch member Justin Shluker 5 and 3 in the afternoon.

“I’m hitting the ball pretty well. I’ve just got to get the putter rolling,” said Tomlinson. “I’ve got a lot of confidence going for tomorrow.”

Daren Johnson is a player unfamiliar to other golfers in the state. That’s because he lives in Las Vegas and decided to try to qualify for the State Amateur because he had heard good things about it.

The 30-year-old former collegiate golfer already has a strong resume as the Nevada State Amateur champion in 2017, the Nevada Mid-Amateur title and Nevada Match Play title in 2018 and was named the Southern Nevada Golf Association player of the year in 2019. He edged Landon Anderson 1 up in the morning and defeated Boston Bracken 4 and 3 in the afternoon.

Johnson will take on Jake Vincent, who completed a four-year career at Southern Utah last spring by being named Big Sky Conference Player of the Year. Vincent beat former professional Nick Killpack and Dixie State golfer Noah Schone in his two matches.

After winning his first match easily, University of Utah golfer Mitchell Schow had to scrap to beat future teammate Braxton Watts, who was 2 up after 10 only to see Schow win four holes coming in for a 2 and 1 victory.

Now Schow will face another incoming Utah freshman golfer Brandon Robison, who edged Skyline High senior Tyson Shelley 2 and 1. Robison, an all-state golfer for Viewmont High, had one of the biggest upsets of the day in knocking off BYU golfer Cole Ponich in his morning match.

Perhaps the hottest golfer in the tournament is Hayden Christensen, a 27-year-old former Dixie State golfer from St. George, who finished in a tie for third overall at the Utah Open and has made just three bogeys in four rounds this week. He was one of three co-medalists the first two days and beat Utah State golfer Andy Hess in his morning match and held off 57-year-old Kirk Siddens 2 and 1 in the afternoon.

“My game is right where I want it,” said Christensen, a former professional (2015-17), who plans to turn pro again after the State Am. “I couldn’t ask for more than the way I’m playing this year.”

Christensen will play Luke Crapo, a 29-year-old financial adviser from Kaysville, who played four years for Weber State. Crapo knocked out former champion Darrin Overson in his morning match and had to go to the final hole to edge BYU golfer Brock Stanger 2 up in the second round.

The quarterfinal matches begin Friday at 8 a.m. with the winners advancing to the semifinals Friday afternoon. The two golfers remaining will be back Saturday morning for a 36-hole final.

A six-man playoff was held early Thursday morning to determine the final three spots in match play and Matt Lyons, Willard Richards and Andy Hess survived, while Steve Croft, Brandon Hargett and Colton Tanner were eliminated. Kelton Hirsch, the 2017 champion, was upset by Watts 4 and 3 in Thursday’s first round.

Thursday results

Round of 32

Justin Shluker def. Matt Lyons 1 up

Blake Tomlinson def. Simon Kwon 3 and 1

Dan Horner def. Peyton Hastings 4 and 3

Davis Heslington def. Patrick Horstmann 6 and 5

Jake Vincent def. Nick Killpack 3 and 2

Noah Schone def. Hunter Howe 3 and 2

Daren Johnson def. Landon Anderson 1 up

Boston Bracken def. Hayden Banz 1 up

Brandon Robison def. Cole Ponich 2 and 1

Tyson Shelley def. John Owen 1 up

Brock Stanger def. Derek Penman 5 and 3

Luke Crapo def. Darrin Overson 4 and 3

Kirk Siddens def. Tristan Mandur 1 up

Hayden Christensen def. Andy Hess 4 and 3

Braxton Watts def. Kelton Hirsch 4 and 3

Mitchell Schow def. Willard Richards 7 and 5

Round of 16

Tomlinson def. Shluker 5 and 3

Horner def. Heslington 2 up

Vincent def. Schone 3 and 1

Johnson def. Bracken 4 and 3

Schow def. Watts 2 and 1

Robison def. Shelley 2 and 1

Christensen def. Siddens 2 and 1

Crapo def. Stanger 2 up

Friday quarterfinals

Tomlinson vs. Horner 8:00 a.m.

Vincent vs. Johnson 8:10 a.m.

Schow vs. Robison 8:20 a.m.

Christensen vs. Crapo 8:30 a.m.


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Schow, Shluker, Christensen tie for medalist honors

By Mike Sorensen, Deseret News

JEREMY RANCH — Every year, one of the most exciting aspects of the Utah State Amateur golf tournament is the playoff for the final spots for match play, following the second day of medal play. In each of the last two years, a dozen golfers were involved in playoffs after the second round of medal play and some years as many as 16 golfers have competed in the playoff that usually ends just before dark.

With this year’s State Am being played two months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is about 90 minutes less daylight, which means it would have been tough to fit in a playoff after golfers finished Wednesday evening. Utah Golf Association officials knew this, so they scheduled this year’s playoff for Thursday at 8 a.m.

That’s when six golfers will meet on the Jeremy Ranch Country Club’s 17th tee to see which golfers qualify for the final three coveted spots for match play.

The three successful golfers will turn around and be paired against the top three seeds, who tied for medalist honors after each finishing at 7-under-par 137. The three co-medalists are former Park City High teammates Mitchell Schow and Justin Shluker and St. George golfer Hayden Christensen.

Schow, a senior for the University of Utah golf team, began the day with a one-shot lead after shooting a 66 in windy conditions Tuesday afternoon. He “was expecting a lot more” under calmer morning conditions, but could only manage a 71.

Schow figured Shluker or Cole Ponich, who were a stroke behind, would pass him up in the afternoon, but Ponich faded to a 74, while Shluker nearly did, but saw his slippery six-foot putt slide by the hole at 18.

The 25-year-old Shluker has played “thousands” of rounds at Jeremy Ranch, growing up as a member at the club, but not so many in recent years when he played for the Sonoma State golf team. He’s hoping his home-course knowledge will help him in match play.

Christensen, who was the low amateur at the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open last month, came on strong shooting a 5-under-par 67 to finish at 137. He was only 3-under for the tournament as he came to hole No. 16 and knew he needed three birdies to catch Schow. He made a two-putt birdie at the par-3 16th, then sank a 20-footer at No. 17. He thought he hit a perfect approach at 18, but his ball rolled back to the bottom of the green, 75 feet away. He told himself, “let’s make this putt” and he stroked it in.

St. George’s Nick Killpack made a run at medalist honors, getting to 6-under for the tournament at the turn, but could only manage at 37 on the back nine and finished fourth at 139. He’s a former professional golfer who played for BYU from 2005-2009, but got his amateur status back last year and now as a 36-year-old father who runs a business, says he plays mostly for fun.

The cut had been expected to be around even-par 144 or 145, but a consistent wind sent scores higher and the cut number ended up being 147.

The six golfers who will get up early Thursday to compete in the playoff are last year’s medalist Colton Tanner, Steve Croft, Matthew Lyons, Willard Richards, Andy Hess and Brandon Hargett.

State Am scores

137 — Mitchell Schow (66-71), Hayden Christensen (70-67), Justin Shluker (67-70)

139 — Nick Killpack (71-68)

141 — Brock Stanger (70-71), Daren Johnson (69-72), Dan Horner (71-70), Cole Ponich (67-74)

142 — Davis Heslington (73-69), John Owen (69-73), Luke Crapo (71-71), Hayden Banz (70-72)

143 — Simon Kwon (70-73), Noah Schone (71-72), Kelton Hirsch (73-70), Kirk Siddens (69-74)

144 — Braxton Watts (72-72), Blake Tomlinson (72-72), Tristan Mandur (73-71)

145 — Boston Bracken (73-72), Hunter Howe (72-73), Darrin Overson (77-68)

146 — Landon Anderson (72-74), Patrick Horstmann (75-71), Jake Vincent (73-73), Tyson Shelley (70-76), Peyton Hastings (76-70), Brandon Robison (73-73), Derek Penman (73-73)

147 — Matthew Lyons (77-70), Steve Croft (72-76), Willard Richards (72-75), Colton Tanner (72-75), Andy Hess (73-74), Brandon Hargett (75-72)

(Missed cut)

148 — Gary (Brett) Smith (74-74), Ali Hameed (75-73), Kihei Akina (74-74)

149 — Tanner Telford (74-75), Scott Nielson (75-74), Elijah Turner (73-76), Kurt Owen (71-78), Chase Lansford (76-73)

150 — Denny Job (77-73), Alex DeBry (79-71), Cameron Tucker (74-76), Lucas Schone (71-79), Brock Nielson (74-76), Ryan Brimley (72-78)

151 — Jeff Appelbaum (77-74), Tyson Lund (75-76), Shane McMillan (77-74), Devin Tovey (77-74)

152 — Thomas Young (72-80), Keanu Akina (76-76), Caysen Wright (76-76), Carl Jensen (77-75), Nik Parcell (71-81), John Fox (80-72), Carsen Dopp (72-80), Preston Cheney (76-76), Jacob Marx (76-76)

153 — Clint Finkbiner (78-75), Stephen Lindsey (80-73), Ben Jorgensen (80-73), David Jennings (78-75), Clark Rustand (79-74)

154 — Keaton Woodland (78-78), Mike Branca (79-75), Craig Wilson (78-76), Camron Saunders (80-74), Andrew Barton (76-78), Spencer Dunaway (77-77), Nick Nelson (78-76), Jackson Holman (76-78), Tyson Tanner (77-77)

155 — Jalen Martinez (82-73), Jon Wright (75-80), Adam Whitt (75-80), Brock Goyen (81-74), Cole Ogden (76-79), Tommy Johnson (78-77), Simon Chamness (78-77), Eric Loveland (75-80), Dylan Chugg (77-78), Steve Poulson (79-76)

First-round matches

Thursday morning

Justin Shluker vs. Matthew Lyons

Simon Kwon vs. Blake Tomlinson

Dan Horner vs. Peyton Hastings

Davis Heslington vs. Patrick Horstmann

Nick Killpack vs. Jake Vincent

Noah Schone vs. Hunter Howe

Daren Johnson vs. Landon Anderson

Hayden Banz vs. Boston Bracken

Mitchell Schow vs. Willard Richards

Kelton Hirsch vs. Braxton Watts

Cole Ponich vs. Brandon Robison

John Owen vs. Tyson Shelley

Hayden Christensen vs. Andy Hess

Kirk Siddens vs. Tristan Mandur

Brock Stanger vs. Derek Penman

Luke Crapo vs. Darrin Overson


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Needham: Stay Calm, Carry On to Victory

By Kurt Kragthorpe

When she was 4 down after five holes against defending champion Annette Gaiotti in the semifinals, Marie Needham figured there realistically was no way she would win the Utah Senior Women’s State Amateur.

She proved herself wrong, and happily so.

Needham staged a remarkable rally to overtake Gaiotti, then claimed the trophy with a 1-up win over Elizabeth Jones in the final match Wednesday at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course.

The victory signaled an even bigger comeback for Needham at age 57. She underwent neck surgery three years ago, requiring a long comeback and keeping her away from tournament golf or even playing two days in a row.

Everything changed in the summer of 2020, when Needham joined the other members of the Drifters on a six-day golf trip to Idaho. And then a Drifter became a Utah Golf Association champion.

Like groups including Youth on Course and The Buck Club, Needham and other competitors in her league, register their UGA memberships as the Drifters, playing various courses.

In those travels, Needham has come to love the back nine of Wasatch Mountain’s Lake Course, and it showed in the Senior Women’s Am. The Draper resident closed out a 4-and-2 win over Rina Slade in the quarterfinals with a strong back nine, winning Nos. 15 and 16. In the semifinals, she won Nos. 10, 12, 16 and 17 (while losing No. 15) to complete her upset of Gaiotti.

And then she gained control of the final match by winning Nos. 12 and 13, taking a lead that she maintained to the end with a solid par on No. 18.

Needham was disappointed that nervousness kept her from ending the match on the par-5 No. 17, where Jones got into trouble and ended up making a heroic bogey. Needham was in great position in two shots, but a mishit with a wedge led to a bogey of her own, keeping her 1 up.

“I got a little tense on that shot and just couldn’t pull it off,” she said.

That error may have haunted her for a long time, if Jones had forced extra holes. But that didn’t happen. Needham matched Jones’ perfect drive on the par-4 No. 18, and not even a dead battery on her phone could stop her.

The explanation is that Needham was using her phone to show the hole locations, and she had to guess as she viewed the elevated green from the fairway. The flagstick was not about far back as she figured, and her 100-yard wedge shot went beyond the hole. But she negotiated the tricky two-putt, winning the match when Jones missed her birdie attempt.

Amid the frustration of the previous hole, “I just decided to stay happy and stay calm and carry on,” she said.

The strategy helped. So did memories of her father, who died in 2018. Marie’s golf bag includes a Duke head cover, because George Needham attended the school. She found herself “channeling my dad, for sure” and could “feel him here” as she played Wasatch.

George Needham was said to be “a nurturer, a mentor, a provider, an athlete, a competitor, an adventurer, a sports fan, an entertainer, a comic, an intellectual, a success, a great friend to many,” and his daughter embodied many of those traits at Wasatch Mountain.

Some of those friends shared cups of champagne with her alongside the 18th green. That celebration may have occurred one hole later than Needham hoped, but she hardly could have enjoyed the victory any more.

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Fairways Media senior writer and a frequent contributor to the UGA website NEWS page.

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Wright, Bachman, Tyndall Claim Senior Am Victories

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Jon Wright walked off the No. 9 green after playing an adventurous hole, tying Chris Hermansen’s score in the final match of the Utah Senior State Amateur.

“That felt like a win,” Wright told his caddie, Sadie Palmer.

The scrambling par enabled Wright to maintain his narrow lead on Wasatch Mountain State Park’s Lake Course, and he went on to a 3-and-2 victory Wednesday.

The victory, coming about three weeks after Wright’s 50th birthday, added to his two State Amateur titles in his 40s. And the venue was meaningful to Wright. The Senior Am evoked memories of how he made his first birdie as a child at Wasatch Mountain, where his family visited a nearby cabin and the late Bob Wright would make early tee times and play with his sons.

Wright qualified for the event as the No. 7 seed and had to play No. 18 in only one of his five matches, a 2-up win over Jeff Chugg in the round of 16. His quarterfinal pairing vs. Brigham Gibbs is the one that jumps off the bracket, considering they’re good friends and winning four-ball partners who both pursued pro golf careers and now play at The Country Club of Salt Lake City.

Wright helped Gibbs become the UGA Senior Player of the Year in 2018, when they won the Utah Four-Ball Championship. They plan to team up again Sept. 21-22 at Hubbard Golf Course. Wright also hopes to contend in next week’s State Amateur at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club.

He played some of his best golf in a 4-and-3 defeat of Gibbs, who had eliminated Kirk Siddens in the round of 16. Wright’s strong play of Tuesday, when he never made a bogey, continued with a 2-and-1 win over home-course golfer Paul Cannon. Wright lost three holes in that match, all via Cannon’s birdies.

In the final match, “I don’t think either of us played as well as we did (Tuesday),” Wright said of himself and Hermansen.

Hermansen, from Spanish Fork, did put up a challenge, though. He won two par-3 holes with birdies (chipping in on No. 8), and then was positioned to tie the match. Wright had tree trouble on the par-5 No. 9 and ended up needing to get up and down from 70 yards to save par. He succeeded by making a sliding, 10-foot putt and would maintain his lead the rest of the way.

Wright won Nos. 14 and 15 to increase his margin, and then closed out the match on No. 16.

Hermansen, 51, may lack Wright’s credentials in Utah golf, but he has a 14-year streak of qualifying for the State Amateur, as he told Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News, and he made a strong showing in the Senior Am. Hermansen’s semifinal win over Eric Rustand prevented a final matchup of Wright vs. Rustand, which would have paired two former pro golfers who competed against each other for Utah and BYU.


In the Super Senior division for golfers 65 and older, Rob Bachman of Farmington added to his recent age-group victory in the Utah Senior Open by beating Mike Hacker 1 up. Bachman trailed by two holes before winning Nos. 9 and 10, then pulled ahead by winning Nos. 13 and 14. Both players routinely sit atop the super senior points list and were also partners in the 2019 Utah Four-Ball where they finished runner-up.  The super senior division featured some new names in 2020 but Hacker and Bachman proved they are still the class of the 65+ year old division.


Donny Tyndall won the Net championship, 3 and 2 over David Hunt. Tyndall, who plays out of Davis Park Golf Course, won eight of the 16 holes in the back-and-forth final match.

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Fairways Media senior writer and a frequent contributor to the UGA website NEWS page.

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The way ahead for Utah’s Fishburn



By Kurt Kragthorpe


Ordinarily, this week’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship would mark the end of the season. This year, as you might imagine, is different. The 2020 schedule won’t conclude this weekend in Indiana for rookie Patrick Fishburn and other tour members.


And the 2020 schedule won’t even end in 2020. Matching the PGA Tour’s combined seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21, the Korn Ferry Tour is extending this season through next August, not awarding any full promotions to the PGA Tour until then.

That’s actually consoling to Fishburn, the 2016 State Amateur champion and an alumnus of Fremont High School and BYU. He’s a long way from”The 25” in the Korn Ferry Tour standings, but the modified calendar due to COVID-19 gives him basically another year to climb from his No. 76 position. After this week’s event at Victoria National Golf Club, he’ll have five more starts in 2020 before getting a break until the 2021 schedule begins. If the pandemic conditions allow for the tour’s usual start in South America, as much as two-thirds of the combined season may remain ahead of him at this point.


Considering how he started the year with conditional status as the No. 5 graduate of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, Fishburn clearly has advanced his career in 2020 at age 28. It’s also true that he expected more from himself after a fourth-place tie in Colombia in early February gave him access to practically the rest of the schedule.

Since the tour’s restart in June, Fishburn has posted only one top-25 finish. A closing 70 in the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank at Oakridge Country Club dropped him to a tie for 36th, as one of his missed opportunities to move up in the standings.


More recently, with a lot of points (and dollars) available in the KFT Championship Series, Fishburn barely made the 36-hole cut in Boise, Idaho, and then missed the cut by one stroke in Columbus, Ohio.


“It’s been a frustrating last few weeks,” he said this week from Newburgh, Indiana. “I’m just having a hard time having my game come together.”


Any golfer at any level can relate. Having every element of a golf game stay sharp at the same time is the trick for everybody, and different aspects of Fishburn’s game have let him down at various times and limited his season’s earnings to $54,848. Even so, he remains optimistic.


“I think I’m close to breaking out soon,” he said. “I think I’ve learned that the competition is definitely better than playing in Canada last year. I also feel like with my game, I can hang with these guys. I haven’t shown it yet. But I definitely have gotten some confidence that I can play at this level.”


Asked what he wants his fans in Utah to know about his game, Fishburn joked that he just hopes to make it easier for them to find his scores, without having to scroll down so far. As simple as it may sound, he just needs to score better by getting more out of his rounds.


That’s what he learned last week by playing the first two rounds in Columbus with Curtis Luck, the tournament winner. The tour’s better players maximize their scoring opportunities, keeping the ball in the right position as much as possible.

Fishburn is in the tour’s top 10 in driving distance and has made nine eagles this year. He also has bogeyed an inordinate number of par-5s, costing him strokes and momentum.

Turning those occasional 6s into more 4s and 5s is part of his plan for the remainder of the season. And based on last year’s example, his best golf may be ahead of him in 2020. Fishburn won the last event of the Mackenzie Tour schedule in 2019. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have had any Korn Ferry Tour status in 2020 – or anywhere else to play, really, because the season never started in Canada.


So while Fishburn would like to be much higher in the Korn Ferry Tour standings at the moment, he’s way ahead of where he was in late August of 2019.





Kurt Kragthorpe is a frequent contributor to Fairways Media and the UGA website News page.


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Blair enjoying being a dad, turning 30 as his Tour season ends

By Garrett Johnston




Zac Blair finished another season on the PGA Tour Friday when he missed the cut in the Northern Trust, and thus failed to qualify for the next round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.


“It’s been a weird year,” Blair said. “I feel like I was playing really good before the whole shutdown, but we all had to deal with the break.”


Blair posted one top ten finish in 2019-2020 and that was his first event at the 2019 Safeway Open (T4). As he looks toward next season, the Utah native has a simple goal in mind:


“Do better than this year,” Blair said. “Win.”


Still in search of his first PGA Tour win, it will be interesting to see if Blair can get off to another good start as he did last season.


Blair will tee it up again to start the 2020-2021 season, he’s seventh season as a touring golf professional,  Sept. 10-13th at Silverado Resort in Napa, California for the Safeway Open. He then will be home as the rescheduled U.S. Open plays Sept 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.



Off the course, there are some pretty amazing things happening in the former Utah State Amateur champion (2009) and BYU standout’s life right now. For starters, he and wife Alicia became brand new parents three weeks ago when they had their son Charles (CB). Charles has naturally been a game-changer for them. On Thursday, Blair closed on the property for his long-discussed passion project The Buck Club in Aiken, South Carolina. And if that’s not enough, Blair turned 30 that same day.


What’s it like being a dad for the first time? Blair explains the transition to parenthood here:


“It was a good thirtieth birthday present,” Blair smiled.



Blair discusses the The Buck Club land purchase and what the next steps are in its growth recently on his Instagram IGTV platform here:


But before he could close on the property, he had to make a wire transfer. The only problem was there were no Wells Fargo branches near TPC Boston. So Blair, his father James, and caddie Nikolas Kroisi drove two hours down into New Haven, Connecticut to sort this out, the day before the PGA Tour Playoffs started at The Northern Trust no less. Zac tells the story on my podcast Beyond the Clubhouse video clip here.


Listen to Blair’s complete interview with “Beyond the Clubhouse” podcast including his mentality as a chaser (106th) in the FedEx Cup playoffs, his favorite post-round beverage and tons of range time tips, here:



Garrett Johnston is a freelance writer covering the PGA Tour for Fairways Media. You can follow him on Twitter, here: @JohnstonGarrett and on the Beyond the Clubhouse podcast.


Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

Tanner & Akina Go Low at Last Chance

Haze and distant smoke filled the skies of the Last Chance Qualifier at Mountain View Golf Course on Friday August 21st. The low score for the qualifier was 65 (-7). This score was shared by two players, Colton Tanner and Keanu Hiram Lester Akina. Akina was propelled by two eagles and Tanner qualified with the help of his bogey-free scorecard.

The cut was set one stroke above the leaders at 66 (-6). Five players carded these scores and a playoff for the two qualifying and two alternate spots was set. Simon Chamness and Eric Loveland claimed their spots early in the playoff and became the final qualifiers for the Utah State Amateur next month.

Full Results:


Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

Telford Battles Wind to top Eagle Mountain Q

A windy morning in Brigham City started the Eagle Mountain qualifier on Tuesday, August 17th. The conditions at this qualifier kept the scores relatively high. Shooting the field-low 65 (-6) was Tanner Telford. The low score following Telford’s came in at 69 (-2), which was shot by Carsen Dopp.

Five players came in with cards of 70 (-1). The cut was set at 71 (E) which speaks partly to how tough the course played. A three-man for one spot playoff took place which saw Jack Sargent take the final qualifying spot.

Full Results: