Blair Sinks 50-Foot Birdie to win Women’s Open

By Kurt Kragthorpe,

Her achievement, five seasons in the making, forever will be known as the Tess Slam in Utah women’s golf. Bingham High School graduate Tess Blair is convinced someone else will match her collection of victories, and that may be true.

This dramatically, though? Unlikely.

Blair’s 50-foot, downhill, wide-breaking birdie putt on the 18th hole gave her a stunning win Tuesday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open presented by Fairways Media at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. When the ball struck the flagstick (as the updated Rules of Golf allow) and settled into the hole, Blair covered her mouth in the classic expression of disbelief, then took two steps and hugged her father/caddie, Robert.

And that was before Blair even knew she had won the tournament. The Sacramento State golfer never likes to know where she stands, so the news that she had rescued a win that almost got away from her in disastrous fashion made the ending even more satisfying.

Blair’s one-stroke victory over Colorado pro Bryce Ray came after she lost a six-stroke lead on the back nine, with Ray playing two groups ahead of her. With a pair of 69s for a 6-under-par total, Blair became the first golfer to win three Utah Golf Association events (the Women’s State Am, Mary Lou Baker Open and Women’s Stroke Play Championship) and the Utah Women’s Open, launched by the Utah Section PGA in 2017.

After winning the Stroke Play title by one stroke over Fotu in July, Blair became aware of her historic opportunity. “I thought it would be good to check it off my list,” she said. “I didn’t know it would come so soon.”

Blair’s accomplishment almost became known as the Sirene Slam. Her sister, Sirene, who’s six years older, lost the inaugural Utah Women’s Open in Provo when Lea Garner made a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Ray earned $1,500 as the low professional, finishing two shots ahead of defending champion Kerstin Fotu of BYU and Haley Sturgeon, an assistant pro at The Country Club of Salt Lake City in the field of 38 amateurs and 10 pros. Ray would have welcomed a playoff for the trophy, just to test herself.

Colorado Pro Bryce Ray

As she played the back nine. Ray was concerned mostly about staying ahead of Sturgeon, while putting pressure on herself to finish well for the sake of preparing for the upcoming LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. The former Wichita State golfer birdied three of the last five holes to post a 67, while lipping out a birdie try on the par-3 No. 17.

That’s where Blair three-putted from the fringe for a bogey, after an errant drive had led to a double bogey on the par-5 No. 14. She remained positive at that point, saying, “I knew there were still some birdies out there.”

One, anyway.

Blair’s drive sailed slightly right on the par-4 No. 18, leaving her on an upslope, 110 yards from the hole. Her wedge shot sailed to the upper tier of the green, making even a two-putt par challenging. She judged the speed and the line perfectly, though, as the ball trickled over the ridge and into the hole.

Blair earned an exemption into next week’s Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo, where Fotu last summer became the first woman to make the 36-hole cut.

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Story posted with permission of Kurt Kragthorpe. Originally appeared here:


Promontory Jr. Major Concludes 2022 Season

Another 2022 Utah PGA Junior Series Major season has come and gone with the conclusion of the Promontory Major Championship, played on the Dye course August 1st in Park City.

Before Promontory there were five 36-hole Majors that lead to the season-ending championship and on the line, were exemptions into the 2022 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open and Utah Women’s Open.

Exemptions were available to the Players of the Year and the winners of the Promontory Championship.

For the Boys 15-18 division, Trever Plewe and Cooper Canyon tied at the top of the leaderboard at 3-under. Due to lightning in the area, no playoff was played, exempting both into the Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah.

“This is awesome,” Cannon said of his spot in the Utah Open. “I watched my bosses (Davis Park Professionals Dustin Volk & Zach Johnson) play last year and thought it would be really cool to play, so that got me really excited.”

Cooper Cannon

Cannon had two additional wins during the regular season and a runner-up finish at the Davis County Major.

Plewe birdied three of his last four holes to get to 3-under on the day. He had one other win this season and three other top-ten finishes in the Majors.

“It’s something I never thought I’d do, especially just going into my junior year,” Plewe said about his exemption. “It’s a dream I never could have imagined happening.”

Trevor Plewe

As for the Boys Major Player of the Year, that takes consistency throughout the entire summer, and that’s exactly how Jackson Rhees played this season to earn his spot into the Utah Open.

“I’ve grown up watching my dad (The Oaks Head Pro Ryan Rhees) play in it, or caddying for him, so I’m excited to go play in it,” Rhees said. “Making the cut and playing on Sunday would be the goal for me.”

Ryan & Jackson Rhees

In the three Majors leading to the Promontory Championship, Rhees finished 3rd, T2 and 1st. He finished T2 at Promontory, but earned enough points to finish on top for the season.

In the Boys 13-14 division, Jack Summerhays successfully defending his title with a (-3) 69. Harrison Corcell (-2) finished 2nd and Mo LeCheminant (E) finished 3rd.

Harrison Corcell, Jack Summerhays, Mo LeCheminant

In the Girls 15-18 division there was another tie at the top between Reimi Bleyl and Isabell Salas at 3-over. Both earned spots to compete in the 2022 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah.

“I’m pretty excited to be able to play in a tournament with such a competitive, talented field,” Bleyl said. ‘I look forward to playing and learning a thing or two from the players.”

Reimi Bleyl

Bleyl, who lives in Phoenix, played in all but one Major this season, never finishing lower than 4th. She also won the regular season Tournament of Champions at TalonsCove.

Salas, of Green River, Wyoming, finished runner-up in the two Majors leading up to Promontory and finished the season on a high-note in Park City.

Isabell Salas

“I’m very honored for the opportunity to play in the Utah Women’s Open,” Salas said. “If you want to be the best you have to play with the best and I feel like the best female golfers I know are in the field at the Open.”

Ashley Lam, who finished 3rd at Promontory, won the Girl’s Majors Player of the Year with four victories and a runner-up in all five majors. She also earned a spot in the Utah Women’s Open, but will be unavailable to play.

Ashley Lam

Rounding out the girl’s divisions are Ellie DeMond, who won the 17-18 division at 5-over. Molli Mulhall won the 13-14 division at even par. In the six events she entered, she won all but one, where she finished runner-up.

Thank you to the staff at Promontory Club for hosting another Major Championship. And thank you to all who support the Utah PGA Jr. Series year-in and year-out. We look forward to seeing you in 2023!