BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn dominates the pros in record-setting performance in Provo

Author: By Kurt Kragthorpe

Provo • By the end of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, BYU senior Patrick Fishburn’s standards were ridiculously high.

Playing the 18th hole of Riverside Country Club with an eight-stroke lead Sunday, Fishburn was “a little disappointed” that his drive failed to reach the green of the 415-yard hole.

As for having his chip-shot bid for an eagle miss the hole by 2 inches, Fishburn could live with that outcome. He tapped in for a birdie, giving him a 26-under-par total in three days and a nine-shot win over defending champion Zahkai Brown of Colorado.

Brown claimed the $20,000 check as the top professional, explaining his fist-pumping responses to clutch putts on the last few holes, even while hopelessly trailing Fishburn. PGA Tour player Zac Blair of Orem finished another stroke back, after closing with a 64.

Fishburn’s 63-64-63 showing beat Nathan Lashley’s 2015 tournament record by four shots, although he didn’t match the 12-stroke margin of victory for Todd Fischer in 2000. Having won the 2016 State Amateur, he joined an elite group of golfers who have won Utah’s most prized amateur and professional trophies. The most recent dual winner was Bruce Summerhays, whose 2008 Utah Open win came 42 years after his State Am victory.

Fishburn’s most meaningful numbers were his 64-63 weekend scores, considering he finished 71-73 last August to tie for fifth place after opening with a 62 that tied the course record. He “played probably a little smarter” this time, he said, but the biggest difference was he just played better, driving the ball almost perfectly and putting well.

“He’s always been good,” said Blair, his former teammate at Fremont High School and BYU.

But not this good, obviously. As any golfer knows, “Usually, there’s something going wrong,” Fishburn said.

That didn’t happen much, if at all, over 54 holes on BYU’s home course. Fishburn started the final round with a seven-stroke lead and ended any remaining suspense with two early birdies and an eagle on the par-5 No. 7.

Brown quickly discovered he was playing for second place – and a lot of money. During the trophy presentation, Fishburn spoke wryly about being eager to spend his $700 merchandise certificate in the golf shop, while Brown filled out a W-9 form in the scoring tent and drove away with the big cardboard check.

Blair added $14,000 to his PGA Tour winnings of nearly $800,000 for the PGA Tour’s 2016-17 season by shooting 16 under par. “I didn’t do anything overly great; I didn’t do anything too bad,” said Blair, who’s starting the four-event Tour Finals this week in hopes of enhancing his PGA Tour status for the coming season.

Most of Blair’s winnings came at the expense of out-of-state golfers Sunday. B.J. Staten, a former Tour player from Cottonwood Heights, finished seventh. Riverside assistant pro Chris Moody closed with a 65 to tie for eighth and earn a $500 bonus as the top Utah Section PGA member. Special Olympics Utah, the longtime tournament charity, received a $60,000 contribution.

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