Zach Johnson 2023 SLC Open

Scott Brandt wins Senior Division, Section Members dot the top 10 at Salt Lake City Open

Bloomington Country Club Professional Scott Brandt ran away with the Summit Sotheby’s Salt Lake City Open Senior Division posting rounds of 65-73 for a 6-under 138 total, six shots ahead of runner-up, Dave DeSantis. Senior Match Play champ Mark Owen was next at 1-over, 145. Henry White and Ryan Rhees round-out the top 5 at (+3) 147.

Salt Lake City Open Senior Champion, Scott Brandt.

Describing his play Brandt said, “I was fortunate to keep it not only close but in the right position to the flag, to have easier putts. I putted very well both days.”

For Mitchell Schow, it was a record-breaking performance, in the championship division, winning at Bonneville Golf Course over the weekend.

The 2023 Utah State Amateur champion started off Saturday by shooting an 11-under-par 61, the lowest score in tournament history. Then he followed with a 68 Sunday for a 15-under-par 129 total, which tied the tournament record set by Blake Tomlinson in 2016. His five-stroke victory tied the largest margin of victory since the tourney became a stroke-play tournament in 1970.

“It’s awesome – two weeks ago, I didn’t even know if I was playing in the tournament,” said Schow, who received one of three sponsor’s exemptions for the tournament, sponsored by Summit/Sotheby’s International Realty. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’m just playing solid golf and trying to stay in the present.”

Davis Park Professional Zach Johnson, the 2021 winner, finished second at 134 after a 68 Sunday, former BYU golfer Carson Lundell was another stroke back at 135.

Davis Park GC PGA Professional Zach Johnson finished as runner-up at (-10) 132.

Low amateur honors were shared by Bryson Hirabayashi, Martin Leon and Oscar Maxfield at 137. 

After making 11 birdies the day before, Schow only made three Sunday but made an eagle-2 at No. 8, where he drove the green at the par-4 and rolled in a 15-footer, His only bogey of the weekend came at the par-4 11th when he 3-putted from 25 feet.

The 26-year-old Schow had shot a 63 at Bonneville two weeks earlier to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship, where he made the cut. He also won the 2018 Salt Lake City Amateur at Bonneville in 2018.

Schow plans to play in this week’s Utah Open in Provo, followed by the Rocky Mountain Open and San Juan Open. Later this fall he will try to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour.

Also in the top 10 were Section Members, tournament host Jordan Gibbs (-7), Andrew Davis and Casey Fowles at (-6).

Click here for the Summit Sotheby’s Salt Lake City Open final leaderboard.

Salt Lake City Open recap story written by Mike Sorensen and Randy Dodson. Photos by Fairways Media.

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Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open: BYU’s Lila Galea’i becomes the 5th amateur winner in a row

The seventh annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open became part of Provo’s 100-year golf anniversary, as a homegrown champion added to the celebration Tuesday at Timpanogos Golf Club.

“I knew I would at least have a lot of fun here, so to walk out with the trophy, too, is a big plus,” said Lila Galea’i

For the third straight year, a former Women’s State Amateur winner added a Utah Women’s Open trophy to her collection. The venue made this victory especially meaningful to BYU golfer Lila Galea’i. The recently remodeled course looks different, but the vibe was the same as the old East Bay GC where Galea’i first started playing at about age 10.

Winning in Provo “feels extra great,” Galea’i said. “I knew I would at least have a lot of fun here, so to walk out with the trophy, too, is a big plus.”

Galea’i posted 70-68 for a 6-under-par total and a three-stroke victory over Cougar assistant coach Lea Garner (72-69).

Garner also felt comfortable in the tournament’s return to Provo after four years at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. Having won the first two Utah Women’s Opens on this property, she earned $2,000 as the low pro for the fourth time in the event’s seven-year history. That check lifts her career earnings in the tournament above $12,000.

Utah PGA Vice President Craig Norman, head PGA Professional at Hobble Creek Golf Course, (Left) and Executive Director Devin Dehlin presented Lea Garner with the low professional check at Timpanogos Golf Course.

The latest achievement was the most remarkable, considering this is the only competition Garner enters all year. “I love this tournament,” she said. “It’s so fun to play. … It helps remind me what it feels like to compete, which I think will help me with my coaching. Sometimes you forget that feeling.”

Partly because two of Garner’s BYU golfers recently turned pro, the leaderboard of this Utah Women’s Open became a healthy mixture of pros and amateurs. Allysha Mae Mateo (72-71), the anchor of Cougar teams in this decade, tied for third place overall and finished second among the pros, earning $1,500. Defending champion Tess Blair (71-72), who claimed her second Women’s State Am title Friday, joined Mateo and junior golf star Ali Mulhall (70-73).

BYU graduate Kerstin Ngakuru (73-72), who turned pro after losing in the round of 16 last week, finished third among the pros to collect $1,200 in her debut.

“We all know what high school (girls) golf has done around here the last 15 years,” said Devin Dehlin, Executive Director of the Utah Section PGA. “We’re starting to see it at the professional level, the collegiate level and onward.”

Former BYU golfer Kerstin (Fotu) Ngakuru competed as a professional for the first time at the Utah Women’s Open.

Galea’i won the Utah Golf Association’s Mary Lou Baker Open in June and is a contender for the UGA Women’s Player of the Year award, which she won in 2021.

Garner once lost in a Women’s State Am final match. Ngakuru, Blair and Galea’i each won that title and are the last three champions of the Utah Women’s Open (following two out-of-state amateur winners, Annika Borrelli and Veronica Joels). The irony is that Galea’i exited this year’s Women’s State Am early, losing to Kelsey Chugg in the round of 32.

She regrouped nicely. “I moved on pretty quick,” Galea’i said. “I didn’t really dwell … I just went to the course and started working on my wedges.”

Ultimately, her long-hitting ability came into play Tuesday. The par-4 No. 14 was set up as driveable at about 245 yards and Galea’i needed only a 4-iron to end up just off the green on the left side. Mulhall, who was battling for the lead that stage, also played aggressively, but her ball rolled across the green and into the water. The combination of Mulhall’s bogey and Galea’i’s birdie proved decisive.

2023 Utah Women’s Open champion, Lila Galea’i.

Galea’i parred the last four holes, with no drama. Maybe that explains this quote: “I don’t know why; I don’t feel like I just won. … I guess I did, and I’m just happy about it.”

Maybe it will hit home next week, when Galea’i uses the exemption into the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Provo’s Riverside Country Club that comes with her victory.

Click here for the Utah Women’s Open final leaderboard.

Written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.

Beau Bremer

Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open: Arizona pro tops a crowded leaderboard

In the first six years of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open, no playoff was needed to decide the champion and no out-of-state pro claimed the trophy.

One or both trends could end Tuesday as the final round is staged at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo, where 12 players are within three shots of the lead.

Photo Credit: Beau Bremer Instagram @Beau_knows_golf

Beau Bremer, a pro from Scottsdale, Arizona, took the first-round lead Monday with a 3-under-par 69, one stroke better than four players. Tuesday’s final threesome will include Bremer, who played golf and soccer at Washington State; current University of Washington golfer Adithi Anand; and Salt Lake City’s Whitney Banz, who played golf and basketball at Westminster College.

The group at 70 also includes junior golf star Ali Mulhall and BYU’s Lila Galea’i. Defending champion Tess Blair, who won her second Women’s State Amateur title last week, and Weber State’s Samira Salinas are next at 71.

Among the players at 72 are BYU graduate Allysha Mae Mateo, who recently turned pro, and Cougar assistant coach Lea Garner, who won the first two Utah Women’s Open titles in 2017 and ‘18 at the since-remodeled and renamed Timpanogos GC. The event was played at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club the past four years, with an active college golfer winning each time.

Here’s how the top five golfers ended up in their positions:

Bremer birdied the par-4 Nos. 16 and 17 to move into the lead.

Banz eagled the par-5 No. 10 on her way to a back-nine 32.

Mulhall, who also eagled No. 10, reached 5 under before carding a triple bogey on the par-4 No. 14.

Galea’i was 4 under before making a double bogey on No. 15, the par-3 with an island green.

Anand was the steadiest player on the board, making three birdies and one bogey.  

Click here for Utah Women’s Open Leaderboard.

Written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.

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Junior Series Major Championship names Players of the Year at Hobble Creek

The Utah PGA Juniors Series concluded its Junior Major season with the Major Championship hosted at Hobble Creek Golf Course on July 31. Participants competed for the Major Championship title alongside an exemption into the Utah Open for the Junior Major points Players of the Year and Boys’/Girls’ 15-18 division low scores.

Ben Ackley earns an nUtah Open spot with a playoff win at the Junior Major Championship at Hobble Creek.

Ben Ackley and Cooper Nelson of the Boys’ 17-18 division shot the tournament low 3-under-par 68 after 18 holes, forcing a playoff for the Major Championship. After a one-hole playoff Ackley emerged as the division winner, earning his exemption into the Utah Open. Lance Loughton clinched Boys’ Junior Major Player of the Year with his third-place finish in the Boys’ 15-16 division, also earning exemption into the Utah Open. 

Lance Loughton is the Boys Player of the Year
Natalie McLane qualified for a spot in this year’s Utah Women’s Open at Timpanogos Golf Club.
Ellie Jo Olsen qualified for next week’s Utah Women’s Open as this year’s Girls’ Junior Major Player of the Year.

Natalie McLane led all girls with a 1-under-par 72 at Hobble Creek, earning her spot into next week’s Utah Women’s Open while securing the Girls’ 15-16 title. Girls’ Junior Major Player of the Year Ellie Jo Olsen will accompany McLane in the Utah Women’s Open as she clinched her exemption with season-long 60 points.

18 holes was not enough to decide the Boys’ 13-14 division winner as Joseph Corcell and Jack Nelson both carded 1-over-par 72’s. After a six-hole playoff Corcell emerged as the Boys’ 13-14 champion. JJ Tomsick concluded the boy’s division champions after carding an even 71, capturing the Boys’ 15-16 division. 

Girls’ 17-18 division winner Sydney Richards picked up her first Major win of the season finishing at 1-over-par 74 and Tazlyn Wagner of the Girls’ 13-14 division rounded out all the division champions picking up the win after carding a 3-over-par 76.

A full leaderboard is available here.

Tournament photos available here

Story written by Utah PGA Junior Series Intern Josh Green. Photos by Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson.

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Local Pro Mitch Schow, medalist at Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship Monday Q

Mitch Schow, a former Utah State Amateur champion and PGA TOUR Canada & LatinAmerica professional, currently has no status on any tour and is prepping for the coming Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying tournament.

At yesterday’s Utah PGA hosted Monday Qualifier for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship Schow shot a (-9) 63 at Bonneville GC where he’s a former Salt Lake City Amateur champ.

Schow made 10 birdies on the day, 7 coming on the back nine, to earn medalist honors and a spot in this week’s Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club.

Schow said, “I though there was only 4 (qualifying) spots so I knew I had to get it going (on the back nine). I knew it (Bonneville GC) was playing hard. I have never seen some of those pins before.”

Schow joins Korn Ferry Tour regulars Patrick Fishburn (last week’s runner-up), Danny Summerhays and Blake Tomlinson who received a sponsor exemption this year. Also making it through the Monday Qualifier are runner-up Carson Lundell, Tyson Shelley and Zac Jones.

Schow, a former University of Utah golfer, will also tee it up in the Summit Sotheby’s Salt Lake City Open, Aug. 12-13 at Bonneville GC on a sponsor exemption.

Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship Monday Qualifier Leaderboard

Joe Summerhays

Experience Gained: Joe Summerhays wins the Utah Senior Open

The dog days of summer feel like the start of the golf season for Joe Summerhays. And his success amid the soaring heat of late July prompted him to use a surfing example.

“You’ve got to ride the wave when you can,” he said, “so hopefully, this is a good wave.”

Summerhays rode the wings of two eagles to a convincing victory in the Mel Duke Utah Senior Open, pulling away from a pack of contenders in the final round, July 27, at Toana Vista Golf Club in West Wendover, Nevada.

Joe Summerhays (-11) and Mark Owen (-5) led the way at the Utah Senior Open.

Summerhays’ 67-66 showing for an 11-under-par total lifted him six shots above 2021 champion Mark Owen (67-72), while Scott Brandt (69-73) continued his remarkable play in his 60s by finishing third. Tommy Johnson (72-71) and Shane McMillan (73-70) tied for fourth overall and shared low amateur honors ahead of Darren Kuhn (72-72).

In his continuing effort to gain PGA Tour Champions access, Summerhays says his professional life is a 60-40 balance of teaching and playing golf. The playing part will accelerate in the coming months as he enters Monday qualifying events and tries to peak for the annual qualifying tournament. “That’s been my thought process the whole time,” he said.

“It’s exciting,” Summerhays said of what’s ahead. “I feel my game coming around, really close to where I want it.”

“You’ve got to ride the wave when you can,” Summerhays said, “so hopefully, this is a good wave.”

It sure looked that way at Toana Vista. Summerhays seized control in the final round with an eagle on the par-5 No. 3, then holed a bunker shot for another eagle on No. 10. He also made three birdies, with one bogey.

Mark Owen followed his Utah Senior Match Play Championship win with a second place showing at the Senior Open.

Owen birdied No. 3, but separation came when he bogeyed the par-4 No. 4 and Summerhays birdied. Owen, though, secured second place with a run of three birdies on the back nine. Brandt continues to play some of the best golf of his life as a super senior, posting a top-five finish in the Utah Senior Open for a fourth straight year.

Bloomingotn Country Club’s Scott Brandt earned another top five finish at the Senior Open.

Meanwhile, defending champion Jeff Brehaut faded to a 78 after opening with a 69 and Utah Golf Hall of Fame member Steve Schneiter closed with a 77 after sharing the first-round lead with Summerhays and Owen.

Summerhays made winning look rather routine, although he said, “It’s never easy out there. There’s a lot of pressure.”

Experience gained in multiple PGA Tour Champions events and the 2023 U.S. Senior Open clearly helped him in the Utah Senior Open. He’s trying to “learn to relax a little bit,” he said, “and just accept outcomes more. I don’t come off as intense, but I really want it, so I work really hard.”

Section officers Craig Norman and Jeff John present the Super Senior champion’s trophy to Tom Costello.


Tom Costello took all the mystery out of the Super Senior (60-over) competition by touring Toana Vista’s front nine in 32 strokes in the final round. A closing 70, coupled with his first-round 68, gave him a four-stroke win over Brandt. Henry White (71-73) took second-place money in the division, with Brandt having finished third overall.

Randy Hicken (70-75), Dan Parkinson (72-73) and Paul Cannon (72-73) tied for low amateur. Robert Merrill (73-70) was the net winner.


Don Branca’s amateur success was remembered this summer when the State Amateur returned to The Country Club, where he won the 1975 title. Nearly a half-century later, Branca remains a very steady player. His 73-73 performance was good for a three-stroke victory over Roy Christensen (72-76) in the Legend (70-over) division at Toana Vista. Brent Marriott (75-82) was the low amateur and Ray Unrath (80-71) earned the net title.

Click here for complete results.

Written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.

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Don Rea and Keith Soriano featured on the Elevation Podcast

Joining this episode of the Colorado Section’s Elevation Podcast are two of the PGA’s best, the current Vice President of the PGA of America, Don Rea, and the Director of the Mountain and Midwest Regions, Keith Soriano. Don and Keith share their insight on the value of PGA Membership and how PGA Professionals can define themselves as MVPs in the golf industry. To learn more, please enjoy this episode of the Elevation Podcast.

Click Here:

Mel Duke

2023 Utah Senior Open Honoree: Mel Duke

If not for the conditioning expertise of Mel Duke, Toana Vista Golf Course probably never would have become the home of the Utah Senior Open.

Without accepting the challenge of growing grass on Wendover’s salty soil, Duke may not have received the recognition he deserved among golf course superintendents.

The convergence gave Duke a career capstone, making him the honoree of the 2023 Mel Duke Utah Senior Open.

2023 Utah Senior Open honoree, Mel Duke stands in front of his waterfall creation at Willow Creek Country Club.

This tournament is the perfect setting to celebrate his life’s work, topped by Toana Vista. “The transformation of that course is just astonishing to me,” said Scott Brandt, a PGA Professional who worked with him at Willow Creek Country Club.

Duke retired in February after 16-plus years at Toana Vista, a tenure highlighted by his work with two major annual events: the Utah Senior Open and the Utah Section PGA Championship. Including his stint at Willow Creek, there’s nothing he enjoyed more than preparing a golf course for professional and elite amateur players. He played well enough to know what golfers were looking for, and did his best to deliver it.

If not for the physical wear and tear of the superintendent’s job description, Duke likely would have kept going beyond age 77. “If I could have done it forever, I would have,” he said, “because I love it so much.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in his 55-year career in turfgrass, so let’s travel quickly up and down I-15 and then west on I-80. We’ll start in Provo, where Duke was a three-sport athlete at B.Y. High.

Then St. George, where he played baseball for Dixie Junior College, met his wife, Janet, and took a job under Gene Schneiter, helping build Bloomington Country Club and St. George Golf Club. Other highlights include:

Riverdale, working for Gene’s brother, Ernie Schneiter Jr.

West Bountiful, where he functioned as both a golf pro and superintendent.

Layton, where he helped Valley View receive two Top 75 Public Course awards from Golf Digest.

Sandy, where Willow Creek hosted some remarkable visitors when the Utah Open was a premier mini-tour event.

Syracuse, where he built Glen Eagle, a satisfying experience that made him seek just one more challenge.

Former Toana Vista Golf Course PGA Professional Reid Goodliffe said, “Mel Duke drives around a golf course and just like in the movies, the flowers bloom and the grass turns green.”

That explains the I-80 trek. About halfway to Wendover, he confessed to Janet that the trip was for a job interview, not merely a diversion. Reid Goodliffe, then Toana Vista’s Head Professional, couldn’t believe it when he saw Duke’s application for the superintendent’s opening. All these years later, Goodliffe describes Duke’s work in Wendover as “heroic.”

Goodliffe marveled, “He drives around, and the grass is just standing at attention.”

A lot of effort, of course, accompanied the seemingly magic touch that’s being further rewarded during the Mel Duke Utah Senior Open.

The Mel Duke Utah Senior Open will be contested July 26-27 at Toana Vista GC in West Wendover, NV. A dinner will be held in Mel’s honor following the opening round. Click here to watch the honoree video.

Story by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson.


Mark Owen is the last man standing at the Senior Match Play Championship

2023 Utah PGA Senior Match Play Champion, Mark Owen

With birdies on the final two holes of the scheduled 18-hole championship match, Mountain View Golf Course PGA Professional Mark Owen defeated Bloomington Country Club’s PGA Director of Golf Scott Brandt to claim the Utah PGA Senior Match Play Championship at Willow Creek Country Club, July 20.

The Senior Match Play Championship launches what promises to be a busy summer for the Utah PGA championship season and is the precursor to the Mel Duke Utah Senior Open July 26-27 at Toana Vista Golf Course.

Senior Match Play finalists, Mark Owen (L) and Scott Brandt

Owen and Brandt reached the championship match defeating Southern Utah County Professionals Tracy Zobell (Gladstan GC) and Ryan Rhees (The Oaks GC) in semifinal matches earlier Thursday morning. Owen defeated Zobell 3 & 2 and Brandt got by Rhees in 19 holes at Willow Creek.

Owen and Brandt, both former Match Play champions, played what Owen called a “steady match” which is really how Owen prefers to play when going head to head in match play.

“Stroke play is a little bit harder for me because most of the time I don’t go really low with my scores. But when it is match play, par is a good score against an opponent. You know you can par somebody to death and if you make a few birdies, that goes a long way with making 16 or 15 pars,” explained Owen.

That strategy played well for Owen in the championship match as Brandt held a 1up lead heading into the par 5 17th. 

Going for the green in two, Owen’s second shot ran through the right side bunker that faces the green and settled in the grass on the downslope of the backside of the bunker. 

Brandt went the traditional route and laid up his second shot in order to hit a wedge into the green. Unfortunately his third shot was “two yards too far” and bounced into the rough behind the green.

 “I thought it was really good,” Brandt said. “If it lands about two yards shorter it’s going to go right back to the hole.”

Mark Owen watches Scott Brandt chip from behind the green at the par 5 17th at Willow Creek Country Club. Owen’s remarkable chip shot from in front of the green (photos above) led to his birdie that tied the match.

Both players hit remarkable chip shots onto the green but Owen made his birdie putt to win the hole and tie the match heading to the 18th hole. 

With another birdie at the last, Owen claimed the Senior Match Play champion’s title for 2023.

“Scott Brandt is amazing. He’s so good and just a grinder,” said Owen. “Tracy (Zobell) and I were talking about that this morning. You never can count on him doing anything really crazy stupid. He’s a pretty solid player and he’s won many events like this. He’s a past champion of this tournament. You always have to pay attention (when) playing him.”

Mark Owen

Owen said, “I’ve always loved playing this course. This course looks well to my eye, it has a lot of different shots. You hit a lot of different iron shots, a lot of different wedge shots, and there’s some risk-rewards.”

“This was really fun,” Brandt said. “It’s what makes this job worth having to be honest with you. Just to be able to compete with these guys and have fun doing it. The day-to-day stuff gets a little monotonous. When you break away for a day or two and compete with these guys that’s what makes it worth having.”

Scott Brandt

The 2023 Utah PGA Senior Match Play Championship began in May with 32 players at Stonebridge Golf Course for two rounds before moving on to Bountiful Ridge for the Quarterfinals June 27th. Click here to see the complete Senior Match Play Championship bracket. 

Story and photos by Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.

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Sirene Blair-Wheeler new M&M Region Recruiting & Member Engagement Specialist

PGA Regional Director Keith Soriano announced today that Sirene Blair-Wheeler has been selected as the new Recruiting & Member Engagement Specialist for the M&M Region and larger Member and Section Operations Team.

Sirene comes to us as a Level 2 Associate from the Utah Section, where she was most recently an Assistant Professional at Glenmoor Golf Club, where she was intimately involved in all facets of the operation, including one of the most impactful PGA Junior League programs in the nation. 

Among her many playing accomplishments, Sirene Blair was the 2014 Utah State Women’s Amateur champion.

Sirene is a 4-time 5A Utah State High School Champion and 6-time Utah Junior Golf Association Player of the Year. Her Junior career made her a highly recruited player, providing her with first-hand experience in the recruiting life cycle and what it takes to walk individuals through career and life-altering decisions. 

Sirene was successfully recruited by San Diego State University, where she was a 4-year letter winner and an All-Conference selection before graduating with honors. She followed her amateur career with eight professional victories, including the Northwestern Women’s Open and multiple victories on the Cactus Tour, where she was the 2018 Money List leader.

“Needless to say, she’s a factor on and off the golf course,” Soriano said. “And she’s already spoken for when it comes to any future partner events at team meetings – I need all the help I can get. Welcome to the team, Sirene!”