Rookie Pro Garner Captures Inaugural Utah Women’s Open

Author: Kurt Kragthorpe

The first Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open seemed almost sure to last longer than 36 holes, but Lea Garner determined the winner right then and there.

Garner’s 20-foot birdie putt on East Bay Golf Course’s 18th hole clinched her victory over runner-up Sirene Blair, who was in position to tie her. Blair had stuck her approach shot to within 6 feet on the par-4 hole, basically forcing Garner to make her putt to avoid a playoff.

Garner earned $3,000 and an exemption into the traditional Utah Open at Riverside Country Club after coming through with “one of the more nerve-wracking putts I’ve had,” she said. The former BYU golfer posted an 11-under-par 133 total as BYU coach Carrie Roberts caddied for her.

Garner and Blair, who just finished her San Diego State golf career, each closed with a 6-under-par 66. BYU assistant coach Juli Erekson (69-69) was next at 138 as pros took the top three spots. The Cougars’ Anna Kennedy was the low amateur at 140, one stroke ahead of Kelsey Chugg, who recently won her fourth Women’s State Amateur title.

Products of the Utah Junior Golf Association and Utah high school golf programs, Garner and Blair were close all day. Garner’s birdie on the par-4 No. 15 gave her a one-stroke lead that she maintained with three clutch putts, making two more birdies.

“You can’t help it when you get outplayed,” Blair said good-naturedly.

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Utah Women’s Open photos HERE.

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