Author: By Mike Sorenson
PROVO — Going into Sunday’s final round, there was little doubt Patrick Fishburn would win the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open. He had fired rounds of 63 and 64 to take a seven-shot lead into the final 18 holes at Riverside Country Club. The only question was how low would he go.
Turns out he went very low.
Not only did Fishburn hold on to win the Utah Open Sunday, he did it in record-breaking fashion, firing a final-round 63 to finish with an astounding 26-under par 190 total. That broke the tournament record set two years ago by Nate Lashley by four shots.
“That’s awesome,” said the 24-year-old Fishburn when informed of his record-breaking total. “It’s a great feeling. Obviously there’s been a lot of great players that have rolled through the Utah Open. So to have the lowest score is a big accomplishment.”
By winning, Fishburn became just the fifth amateur to win the Utah Open in its 91-year history and the first since Greg Buckway accomplished the feat in 2004. So Fishburn, who will be starting his senior year at BYU next week, couldn’t accept the $20,000 first prize, which went to Colorado’s Zahkai Brown for the second straight year. The reigning champ actually finished a shot better than he did a year ago, but found himself lapped by Fishburn.
“He had a seven-shot lead and I’ve seen him play so I figured there was no way he was going to blow that lead,” said Brown, who finished with a 65 Sunday. “I didn’t get to see him chip because he didn’t miss a green, so I don’t know how good his chipping is. But damn, he can hit the ball — it’s far, straight accurate and he can roll the putts. It’s awesome, unbelievable.”
A year ago, Fishburn had opened with a 62 at Riverside, then followed it up with rounds of 71 and 73 and finished in fifth place, six shots behind Brown. This year, he tried to dial it back a bit and play smarter.
“Sometimes after I shoot a low round, I try to get out there and hit it a little too far,” the long-hitting Fishburn said. “I think this time I played a little smarter. I putted really well this year, pretty consistently all week, and I only missed two greens.”
Fishburn had made only two bogeys all week, and he avoided them all day Sunday. He began with birdies at 2 and 5, and at the par-5 seventh, standing some 200 yards out, he debated between a 7- and 8-iron before taking the 8 out and hitting it within 10 feet, from where he sank the putt for an eagle.
That was the point that Brown gave up any hope of repeating his title, saying, “After he made that eagle, I said, ‘all right I’m going to play for second now, because his game is so sharp and good.'”
Fishburn added birdies at 10 and 11, from 6 and 4 feet, respectively, then birdied 13 with a two-putt birdie on the par-5. His only disappointment on the day was not making birdie at the par-5 15th, where he three-putted for par, then he added birdies at 16 and 18 after nearly driving each par-4.
He wound up and smashed his drive at the 401-yard 18th, hoping to drive the green for the first time ever, but came up about 5 yards short. He chipped up to two inches, and the final birdie dropped him to 26-under for the week.
“I don’t think I’ve had everything going as well as I have this week,” he said. “My driving was good, my irons were good, I chipped and putted well.”
With Fishburn running away and hiding early in his round, the only real excitement was to see who would capture low professional honors. A half dozen players were bunched together for much of the day before Brown made a birdie-2 at No. 17 when he hit his tee shot within 5 feet. Afterwards, he gave credit to the two par-saving putts he made on the previous two holes, from 12 feet at No. 15 and 9 feet at No. 16.
Brown finished a shot ahead of Ogden native and PGA Tour regular Zac Blair, who decided to play in the Utah Open a week after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs and before competing in the Web.com finals starting next week. Blair had his best round of the week, an 8-under 64, to finish at 16-under 200.
Luke Vivolo of Carmel, California, finished a shot back at 201, followed by Eddie Olsen of Santa Cruz, California, at 202, and Arizona’s Jesse Mueller at 203.
OPEN NOTES : Fishburn’s 9-shot margin fell short of Todd Fischer’s 12-shot record victory at the 2000 Utah Open at Jeremy Ranch. Chris Moody won the Utah Section Sidebar purse of $500 as the low Utah pro. The Utah Special Olympics received a check for $60,000 as the tournament’s charity.