Warren and ESPN Caddie

ESPN’s Michael Collins Leads a Parade of Fun at the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship; Warren Fisher joins Collins as Co-host

By Michael R. Abramowitz, PGA of America

Think part Pied Piper. Part Eddie Murphy. Part Nick Faldo, minus the accent and, of course, the game.

ESPN reporter Michael Collins brought his entertaining traveling road show to the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, for an extended weekend.

Collins—who once did a popular piece online with phenom Akshay Bhatia from the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, where Bhatia (then a U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team Member) taught Collins how to do the “Orange Justice” dance from Fortnite—is as genuine as it gets.

With a jovial personality, distinctive gray beard and hearty laugh, you can’t help but fall for Collins’ shtick. And now he has a 11-year old sidekick in Utah PGA Jr. Leaguer Warren Fisher, who is co-hosting hilarious bits with Collins to air on November 3rd on ESPN2. Stay tuned.

Vaudeville would be proud.

“It was an absolute blast,” said Collins. “Yesterday was the first day I met him. I was impressed the first time I shook hands. Demeanor, knowledge, 11 years old, just a ball of energy.”

Whether it’s putting drills with Team North Carolina that fall into Collins’ uncanny impromptu bravado or it’s joining in the Championship’s Skills Challenge or serving as a serious on-course reporter, Collins has as many options as a Swiss Army knife.

Meanwhile, Fisher, a now two-time PGA Jr. League Championship Cub Reporter, serves as the ultimate complement, with an equally cutting-edge sense of humor and over-the-top personality.

Harry Caray and Steve Stone. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. Michael Collins and Warren Fisher? It’s not too much of a reach, now, is it?

“Halfway through our day, I told Warren, ‘There’s a good chance me and you will do some stuff in the future.’ He’s a lot of fun…He definitely knows what he wants to do. Knowing and being good at it is hard to do, but he definitely has both.

“He knows what he loves to do. He’s good at it. He’s coachable—easy to work with and great at directional stuff. There’s adults not as good, professionally. He’s one of those guys. Any time they want to ask me if I want to work with Warren, just tell me where I need to be and what time.”

Fisher has his eyes set on the stars and the best-dressed list.

“I want to work in television and do some acting, definitely,” proclaims the suave Fisher, who dresses in a Sunday-best, bow-tied suit, and last year, declared that he also wanted to be President of the United States. “Not any more. TV is where it’s at. For sure.”

“I knew just the way he was dressed this is going to be fun,” explained Collins. “I’m jealous of his look. And how he can slurp down all those milkshakes, too.”

Hollywood, here they come. Get their agent on the phone. Tell them the PGA Jr. League Championship is calling.

The 8th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental is being held at Grayhawk Golf Club, Oct. 12-14. Twelve all-star teams from across America are competing for the national title. ESPN2 will televise a highlight show on Sun., Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. ESPN is the new broadcast network of the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.

For the original story and more info on the PGA Jr. League Championship, click HERE.

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Darci-Dehlin Olson Elected to Utah Section Board

After numerous ballots Glenmoor Head Golf Professional Darci Dehlin-Olsen was elected to the Utah Section PGA Board and will fill the director position that Chad Pettingill has held the past three years. We are excited to have Darci join the Board and look forward to having a woman’s perspective as we continually look for ways to better serve our membership and grow the game of golf in Utah.

We would like to thank Todd Tanner, Chip Wesley and Michael Garrison for their willingness to serve the membership and making the selection process very difficult for our members. Four very qualified candidates looking to get involved and make a difference.  We will definitely be asking each of them to serve on various committees and will look forward to them running for future Board positions as they become available.

Thanks to all those that voted and participated in this process and we hope everyone finishes off the season strong. We look forward to 2020 and many exciting things ahead!

Zach Johnson

Back-Nine Rally Secures Section Championship for Johnson

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.

Full Results

Tournament Photos

Jared Barnes

Jared Barnes to Represent Section as District 9 Director

The Utah Section PGA is excited to announce that Jared Barnes has been selected as the next District 9 Director representing the Utah Section PGA.

District 9 which includes Utah, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Sections is 1 of 14 Districts represented on a national level with The Professional Golfers Association of America.  District Directors are selected from past presidents that have served their sections in the past as an officer.

The Utah Section was extremely fortunate to have 4 strong candidates that offered to serve the Utah Section in this position. Jared Barnes, Colby Cowan, Chris Stover and Ryan Kartchner all stepped up and offered to once again serve the Utah PGA and the members. After going through the selection process with the Board of Directors Jared Barnes was selected as the next District 9 Director. All 4 candidates were extremely qualified and we thank them for their continued service to the Utah Section membership.

Jared served on a couple different national committees when he was Utah Section President and has a great reputation on a national level. We are excited to have Jared as our representative and will look forward to him making a difference for the members of the Utah PGA and District 9. Jared made this comment about his selection “I’m equal parts excited and humbled for this opportunity. I look forward to getting back to serving our section, district and our association.”

Good luck to Jared in this position and thank you for your willingness to serve the PGA.

Utah PGA Homepage

Welcome to the New UtahPGA.com

The Utah Section PGA constantly strives to provide a better experience for PGA Professionals and the golfing community of Utah. Whether that’s through professional events offered around the state, accessible junior golf programs, bettering the communities in which we live, and now, a new UtahPGA.com.

“The Utah PGA is excited to launch a new website this week,” Executive Director Devin Dehlin said. “The new look and features should make this a popular spot for PGA Professionals to find out what’s happening in Utah golf. We will also have new options for individual golf courses to promote local programs at your course. Make sure to go online and take a look!”

The new and improved website contains everything Section members and golfers are used to, plus a little extra, starting with a new look and design. With a simple, straight forward layout, it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for and a little easier to look at, too.

A new feature on the homepage, thanks to partnering with Gigg, is our social media board. Anyone that uses #UtahPGA in a post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, has the opportunity to be featured on the homepage of UtahPGA.com.  This is a fun way for our website visitors to see how the PGA is impacting golfers throughout the state.

It is the mission of the Utah Section PGA to be a leader in promoting the enjoyment of and involvement in the game of golf. The Utah Section PGA seeks to be a strong and prominent organization within the golf community by providing quality programs and services to both PGA Members and others. The new UtahPGA.com will be a great aid in helping the Section accomplish this mission.

To Section members, thank you for all you do for golf in Utah and for the Utah Section PGA. We hope you enjoy the new UtahPGA.com.

Casey Fowles

Fowles’ 61 Wins Second Consecutive Davis Park Open

With a (-10) 61, Sunset View Golf Course Head Professional Casey Fowles wins his second consecutive America First Davis Park Open on September 5th in Fruit Heights, Utah.

Last year’s victory at Davis Park required extra holes with Joe Summerhays, but with a 61 and tying the course record, extra holes were not necessary as he topped Davis Park Assistant Professional Zach Johnson by two strokes to claim his second Davis Park Open victory in as many years.

“I played well on that course growing up so it’s been fun to go back and play as I’m older,” Fowles said of winning two in-a-row.

“It’s just a great bunch of guys up there. I just have good memories and good vibes there.”

With nine birdies, an eagle and a bogey, Fowles certainly had “one of those days the stars aligned and everything went well.”

“It was just one of those days where the ball bounced my way and went in the hole,” he explained. “I didn’t really do anything super outstanding; I just hit it good enough, made a bunch of putts, had a couple of good bounces, chipped one in and made a long eagle putt. It was just one of those days where everything went right, which doesn’t happen very often.”

With the 2019 Utah Section Championship just two weeks away, Fowles currently sits in 7th in the Omega Player of the Year race. He may be a few spots out of the season-long race but needs to be considered as a front-runner going into the Section Championship at Toana Vista in Wendover September 17-18.

As for the Davis Park Open Senior Division, Bloomington CC Head Professional Scott Brandt secures another win for his season with a (-2) 69, two strokes ahead of Davis Park Head Professional Brad Stone and Henry White.

Brandt currently sits in second place in the Omega Senior Player of the Year, right behind Senior Section Champion Ryan Rhees.

Brandt won the Gladstan Open Senior Division in May and hasn’t finished outside the top 5 since the Tony Basso Group Black Diamond Open in July, where he finished 6th.

For full results click HERE.

Ryan Rhees

Rhees Wins Senior Section Championship

Ryan Rhees, head professional of The Oaks Golf Course in Spanish Fork, Utah, is now three-for-three in qualifying for the PGA Senior Professional Championship, this time he qualified with a win in the 2019 Utah PGA Senior Section Championship at Alpine Country Club August 26-27 in Alpine, Utah.

“Feels great,” Rhees said about the win. “It’s a big tournament for the seniors and we have a lot of good players in our Section, so anytime you get a win it feels great.”

Rhees claimed the lead after round one with a (-6) 66, three strokes in front of Bloomington Country Club’s Scott Brandt and four strokes ahead of Jimmy Blair.

“Particularly the first day I drove it really well, so that set me up with a lot of wedges,” Rhees said. “I was able to reach the par 5s in two and I was able to eagle 17. So mostly the tee shots on the first day set me up and I was able to make a few putts.”

All that was needed for Rhees in the final round to finish off the win was an even-par round. His three-stroke lead remained the same over Brandt, who shot even, and new senior Section member Mark Owen, who shot (-2) 70 to finished tied for second.

“I made some putts this week,” Rhees continued about his good play. “I probably made three or four putts over 15 or 20 feet.”

Rhees, Owen, Brandt and Blair, who shot a second-round 71, will all represent the Utah Section PGA in the 31st PGA Senior Professional Championship October 3-6 at the Fazio Foothills & Coore Crenshaw Courses at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin Texas.

This will be Rhees’s third time playing in the PGA Senior Professional Championship in three years of playing in the Senior division.

“Last year I played good enough to make the cut, but didn’t play good enough to get in the Senior PGA Championship,” he said. “There are a lot of good players so you’ve got to play really good to make it in that top 35.”

Rhees uses this qualifying opportunity as a goal every year, whether it was the PGA Professional championship or the Senior Professional Championship.

“It’s always something you try to shoot for,” Rhees continued. “Luckily I’ve played in seven or eight of the regular ones. It’s something to look forward to the end of the year if you’ve played good enough.” As for the rest of the season, Rhees plans to play in the Davis Park Open, the Section Championship in Wendover and then will head to Austin Texas in hopes to play well enough to earn a spot in the Senior PGA Championship.

Utah Open Trophy Presentation

Saunders, Hirsch Put on a Show, but Pro Beats Amateur in the End

By Mike Sorensen, Deseret News

For Sam Saunders and Kelton Hirsch it wasn’t about the money as they battled in a sudden-death playoff at the conclusion of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open Sunday afternoon at Riverside Country Club.

Saunders had already wrapped up the $20,000 professional’s first prize, while Hirsch had locked up low amateur honors and wasn’t eligible for any cash. This was purely about competing and trying to get a victory.

The two golfers put on a show for the spirited gallery around the 18th hole with some terrific shots, and in the end it was Saunders, a 27-year-old from New Mexico, who claimed the title with a par on the second hole of the playoff.

“That’s why I play golf, I loved every moment of that,” Saunders said after the victory. “I really don’t play golf for money — it helps to prolong my career playing in these tournaments — I love playing golf and competing. That was really fun.”

Saunders had to withstand one of the most stirring comebacks in Utah Open history, as Hirsch, a 23-year-old junior-to-be at BYU, made up five strokes in five holes to force the sudden-death playoff. It wasn’t just making up the strokes, it was how he did it that was so thrilling.

The two were playing in the final group with Phoenix pro Blake Cannon and with five holes to play, Saunders was 15-under par for the tourney, while Hirsch was 10-under with several golfers bunched between them on the leaderboard.

Hirsch, the 2017 Utah State Amateur champion, had just made three bogeys in five holes to seemingly fall out of contention, when he said to himself, “You can either crumble and keep making bogeys or make a run at this thing. So I just flipped it on and said, let’s be aggressive … and make a run at it.”

He birdied 14 and 15, then hit his wedge at 16 within 3 feet and sank that for a birdie. Now he was only down two, but when he hit his tee shot left into the rough at the par-3 17th, he faced a seemingly impossible shot to a pin tucked on the left side, leaving him with less than 10 feet of green to work with.

However, he hit an outstanding flop shot that settled within inches of the cup, nearly going in.

“It was spectacular, probably the best chip shot I’ve ever seen,” said Saunders.

“Maybe my best of all time,” added Hirsch.

With Saunders making bogey on the hole, the margin was down to one, but it looked like Hirsch was out of it when at 18 he hit over the left bunker on his drive and then left his approach some 30 feet below the hole. However, he rolled the putt in and celebrated with a fist pump, forcing a playoff.

Kelton Hirsch’s fist pump after his birdie on 18 to force a playoff with Sam Saunders.

The two played No. 18 a second time and again Saunders had the edge, hitting within 10 feet, while Hirsch was 25 feet away. But again Hirsch rolled in his putt, forcing Saunders to sink his to stay alive.

“I play for a moment like that to make a putt to win or continue — there’s no feeling like it,” Saunders said. “I hit a great putt and it went in.”

The third time the two played 18, Hirsch’s luck ran out as he missed a 7-footer for par after hitting in the front bunker and Saunders two-putted to finally claim the trophy.

Park City pro Steele DeWald finished third, just one shot back at 203 after shooting the best score of the tournament, an 8-under-par 64, Sunday along with Las Vegas pro Mitch Carlson.

“That was a solid round, one of the better rounds I’ve played,” said the 32-year-old DeWald, who will try PGA Tour Q School this fall.

Saunders often gets mixed up with the other Sam Saunders, who is a regular on the PGA Tour and is the grandson of Arnold Palmer. He said people used to ask him about his grandpa and he one time got charged by the PGA Tour for some travel and had to have the other Saunders reimburse him a thousand dollars.

He won the Colorado Open, which featured a $100,000 first prize, three weeks ago and will defend his New Mexico Open title later next month. He said he’d like to play the PGA Tour someday, but this fall will try to qualify for the European Tour.

Hirsch will return to BYU with increased confidence after his fine week, following up on a second-place finish at the Salt Lake City Open last week. “To be able to bounce back like that really proved to myself and to a lot of people I can play and compete with the best of the pros,” he said. “I had two great finishes.”

Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson to be Inducted in Southern Utah Athletics Hall of Fame

By Bryson Lester, SUU

The Southern Utah Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the SUU Athletics Hall of Fame Committee have announced the 2019 Hall of Fame class to be inducted on October 25 at the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Part of that induction is our very own Zach Johnson, assistant professional at Davis Park Golf Course and multiple-time Omega Player of the Year.

“Honoring those that had a major impact on this university and department is one of the most important things we do each year,” SUU Director of Athletics Debbie Corum said. “I am so honored that we get to welcome these fantastic individuals back to campus and celebrate everything they did during their time in Cedar City. 

A lifelong T-Bird, Zach Johnson competed for the university from 2001-05 and was an extremely solid competitor on the collegiate golf circuit.

To this day, Johnson’s college stroke average ranks 18th in SUU history, putting him among the best to ever tee it up for the Thunderbirds. 

Johnson’s impact on the program has been felt since his graduation, however, as he has continued his career in golf he has continued to do so while promoting SUU every opportunity he gets.

In 2018, Johnson made national news as he qualified for the PGA Championship. He has also played in, and won a number of highly competitive golf tournaments since leaving Cedar City. Some of Johnson’s other career milestones include winning the 2018 TaylorMade National Championship, as well as the 2013 Utah Open. 

“Zach is the epitome of what a great T-Bird is, both in his time here playing with us and since he’s moved on,” SUU head golf coach Richard Church said. “He has stayed very involved with the program, he’s dedicated his time to growing the game of golf in the state of Utah, along with the fact that he has been and forever will be a T-Bird. I’m very proud of Zach and we can’t wait to celebrate him as a member of our Athletics Hall of Fame.” 

Annika Borrelli

Borrelli Etches New Name in Utah Women’s Open Trophy

The third-annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open saw a new venue and new champion this year, being played at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club in Lehi on August 5-6.

After Lea Garner won the first two events at East Bay Golf Course, no one knew what to expect this year with a larger field and different course, but Annika Borrelli, sophomore at the University of San Francisco came in, took the first-round lead with a (-5) 67 and never looked back with a final-round (-4) 68.

Borrelli had a one-stroke lead over Utah Women’s State Amateur champion and multiple-time winner on The Cactus Tour Sirene Blair and Utah PGA Junior Series alumnus Christiana Ciasca, who were both tied for second at (-4) 68.

And with two-time champion Garner only three-strokes back, Borrelli needed a solid final round to take home the trophy.

“I’ve been a first-round leader before,” Borrelli explained, “and it unfortunately usually gets to my head. This was the first time where I was just trying to play my game, go hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot.”

The game plan worked as she made the turn tied with Blair but then proceeded to fire off five back-nine birdies, including the last-two holes.

“Definitely my putting,” she said about what was working well. “I made some good putts and good saves. My dad and I had a great strategy going reading the lines and also the pace, I give a lot of credit to that.”

Before the Utah Women’s Open, Borelli had only played in one other Utah-based event, a college tournament down south in St. George. She enjoyed the experience and made sure to make a return visit during her summer schedule. And as for next year, she plans on defending her title in the 2020 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open.

“Yeah, I’ll be back,” she said with a smile, holding the champion trophy.

As for the growing professional division, Blair took home the low-pro honors and check after close calls the last-two years.

“It feels really good,” Blair said about her low-pro honors. “I’ve had kind of a rough year so it’s kind of nice to have something that can boost my confidence.

“I definitely made a lot of putts today, I was grinding really hard on the greens and they have the greens rolling so nice. Nice and fast. Just pick a good line and put a good stroke on it and it’ll go in.”

Blair made the turn at one-under for the day, tied with Borrelli, although she finished the back nine in 36, it was good enough for the $2,500 low-pro payout.

“I don’t know what it is about this event,” she said about her performance in the first-three events. “It’s just run really smoothly. The girls are great, a lot of them I played junior golf with so it’s good to see familiar faces. Everyone plays well typically, everyone goes low and the courses are set up to score so it’s always fun to see and fun to play.”

The Brigham Young University Women’s Golf Team took the third-place spot in the event with Assistant Coach Juli Erekson and incoming-freshman Kerstin Fotu, coming off her Utah Women’s State Am win, finished with a tournament-total four-under par.

In only its third year, the Utah Women’s Open continues to grow and become a crucial stop in the women’s schedule for Utah golf and for several traveling professionals. We owe a big thank you to the title sponsor Siegfried & Jensen for supporting it each year and for our presenting sponsor Fairways Media for supporting women’s golf in Utah.

Another thank you to Thanksgiving Point Head Professional Tele Wightman and Superintendent Jason Robert and their staff for hosting us this year. The course was in excellent shape and provided a true test for the Utah Women’s Open.