The Utah Section PGA Professional Championship, held at Toana Vista Golf Course in Wendover every year, continually provides a platform for great tournament golf and an opportunity to spend two-and-a-half days with fellow Section members.
Davis Park Assistant Professional Zach Johnson certainly took care of the great golf aspect September 16-17 in Wendover, winning his second-consecutive Section Championship with scores of (-9) 66-69, finishing with a six-stroke lead over runner-up Joe Summerhays of Eagle Lake Golf Course.
“It was a lot closer than the final results show, for sure,” Johnson said.
After starting on hole 10, making the turn to the par-four first hole, Johnson and Summerhays were only two-strokes apart when Summerhays proceeded to birdie holes one and three, while Johnson bogeyed two and eagled the par-five third hole.
“The turning point for me was probably I missed a short one on two and made bogey and on three, which that hole tends to get the best of me, I hit an 8 iron there to about 20 feet, hole high and made it for eagle to get it back to even par. Then I made a good par on five and finally started hitting some good shots coming down the stretch.”
Johnson birdied three of the last four holes to separate himself from the field, earning back-to-back Section Championships and punching his ticket to the PGA Professional Championship at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. Johnson will have another opportunity to compete in a major with a chance to qualifying for the 2020 PGA Championship April 26-29.
“The second time is a lot harder, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “The first time, Joe and I were kind of battling it out and we both kind of had control of our game. Today was the complete opposite, just trying to avoid a train wreck and get in the clubhouse. It was a challenge.”
Not only did he win two Section Championships in as many years, this win also solidified earning his second-consecutive Omega Utah section Player of the Year.
“Again, to do it back-to-back, you don’t think about it the first time it just kind of happens and then this time it’s in the back of your head and you’re kind of aware of what’s going on. And to my own fault it just puts more pressure on you and makes things tougher than usual.
“To do it back-to-back and to win two Section Championships, I’m pretty happy about it.”
Even though regulation play was through, there were still two qualifying spots to fill for the PGA Professional Championship. Summerhays, Tracy Zobell, Tommy Sharp and Matt Baird secured their spots finishing in the top five, but Todd Tanner, Ryan Rhees, Tele Whightman, Chris Moody, Shawn Edwards and Jimmy Blair proceeded to play off for the remaining spots.
Rhees grabbed a spot with a birdie on the second playoff hole while Tanner secured his on the 7th playoff hole, essentially making birdie on the final four playoff holes. Moody and Wightman were matching birdies on each hole until the very end when Tanner hit his approach to three feet on the 18th hole.
The Utah Section PGA will be well represented in the 2020 PGA Professional Championship.
In the Senior and Super Senior Divisions, Henry White started the final round three-strokes behind first-round leader Scott Brandt. However, with a steady (-2) 70, he came from behind to claim both trophies by one stroke.
We owe a big thank you to Matt Nadeau, Thomas Frank and Mel Duke of Toana Vista for playing host every year and providing a championship-worthy venue for the Section to enjoy. Another thank you to our local sponsors Rainbow, Peppermill, Montego Bay Hotels and Casinos.