Kendra Dalton says she’s a better golfer than ever. That statement covers last season, when her third missed cut of the Epson Tour schedule didn’t come until September.
Now that she has failed to play the final round in three of five tournaments in 2022, including the Copper Rock Championship, she recognizes that her degree of self-belief lacks supporting evidence on her scorecards.
The numbers added up to 77 and 78 for the former BYU golfer this week at Copper Rock Golf Course, the second-year host of the event presented by KSLSPORTS.com. Friday’s variable weather pattern in Hurricane produced cold, windy, rainy and, finally, sunny conditions just before sunset. By then, it was too late for Dalton and Haley Sturgeon to rally and earn a place in the final-round field Saturday, when conditions are expected to be much more pleasant.
Sturgeon, an assistant pro at The Country Club in Salt Lake City, performed better in the second round to extend her trend of last April, when she also received a sponsor exemption into the LPGA Tour-brand stop at Copper Rock. Sturgeon (81-76) bogeyed the last two holes Friday, after a birdie on the par-4 No. 13 (No. 6 for regular play) had tied her with Dalton, an Epson Tour regular.
Emma Broze, a former Oklahoma State golfer from France, has posted 73-68 for a 3-under-par total and a two-stroke lead over three players. The rest of the field is over par for the tournament.
The cut came at 8 over par, four shots higher than last year (before the wind became the story of the final round and scores soared). Dalton missed by three strokes this week, even though she played the back nine in even par for two days.
Defending champion Bailey Tardy (78-75) missed by one shot, thanks to a bogey on the par-4 No. 17 (usually No. 10), where she partially shanked a short-iron approach shot into a bunker that’s seemingly not even in play on the other side of the creek from the green.
Two former amateur stars advanced, though. In her pro debut, 17-year-old Alexa Pano (79-73) made the cut on the number. Gabriela Ruffels, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, bounced back from an 81 with a 66 that included an eagle on the par-4 No. 10 (usually No. 3), where she drove the green.
As for Dalton, she bogeyed six of the first 11 holes Friday in a round that seemed doomed from the start, even while a 75 would have been sufficient to keep playing. Heavy rain stopped just in time for Dalton to tee off in the mid-afternoon, but cost her a warmup session. Her tee shot on the par-5 No. 1 went into the desert to the right of the fairway, leading to a bogey. Dalton’s iron game was off all day, although she was more disappointed with a short game that’s “really killing me” and couldn’t overcome those ball-striking issues.
“I feel like I’m better than I’ve ever been,” Dalton said, “but I’m not scoring.”
So she’ll travel to Garden City, Kansas, next week, hoping that the remaining three-fourths of the tour schedule will evoke better results. “Everything’s there,” she said of her game. “You just keep moving forward and learning. I know it sounds crazy, but I know it’s there, and I’m going to do it.”
Sturgeon also left Copper Rock feeling encouraged, while wishing she could have done more with her limited tour exposure for 2022. “I have the game,” she said. “It’s mental, and then it’s just accepting the elements. And, I think, belief in yourself is a big part of it.”
She’ll keep working on her game and on her Class A PGA membership. Sturgeon wants to use that status to become eligible for the Utah Section PGA Player of the Year award. She means overall, not only among female pros, as a three-time Women’s Player of the Year.
Smiles have varying styles. Kendra Dalton’s wry grin came with a shake of her head and an expression of exasperation Thursday as she stood on the No. 9 tee of Copper Rock Golf Course, buffeted by the wind in her face.
The second Copper Rock Championship resumed in the same, relentlessly windy conditions as the inaugural tournament ended last April. The scores told the story in the opening round of the 54-hole Epson Tour event presented by KSLSPORTS.com: LPGA Tour veteran Kim Kaufman’s 2-under-par 70 was good for a one-stroke lead and, even more remarkably, only three other golfers shot par or better.
“You can get punished out here,” Dalton said, after absorbing two double bogeys on the front nine. The former BYU golfer rallied by playing the back nine in 1 under par, posting a 77 that “sounds awful,” she acknowledged, although that number looked a lot better as the afternoon progressed.
Dalton is inside this weekend’s projected cut line, which came at 6 over par for 36 holes last year. Copper Rock was much more playable in the first two rounds of 2021, before the sustained winds of 30-plus mph arrived for the finish.
Bailey Tardy, who posted 66-70-70 in winning last April’s title, opened with a 78. Alexa Pano, making her pro debut at age 17 after recently appearing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, played the last four holes in 1 under just to shoot a 79.
Haley Sturgeon missed the cut by one stroke last year. In Thursday’s case, she got to experience everything she missed in that final round as the wind took its toll on the 120-player field.
Playing on another sponsor exemption, the assistant pro from The Country Club in Salt Lake City shot an 81, slightly worse than the 79 she opened with last year before responding with a 70.
Sturgeon hopes to make a similar comeback, the biggest question being when she’ll get to play. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for Friday afternoon, when Dalton and Sturgeon are scheduled to tee off among the last few threesomes. If there’s any delay at all, the second round will spill over into Saturday.
Thursday’s average round lasted nearly 6 hours, with the wind requiring an agonizing process on every shot, even (or especially) short putts.
Dalton, in her fourth year on the newly renamed Epson Tour, missed the cut in the first two tournaments of 2022 before advancing in the last two events and ranking 64th on the money list. Her adventurous front nine Thursday included two swings from a greenside bunker on the par-5 No. 1 (No. 12 for regular play), followed by two good par saves and two missed birdie chances. The most exposed parts of the course then caused her trouble.
Her tee shot on the par-3 No. 6 hit “a wall” of wind, she said, leading to a penalty stroke and a double bogey. On the par-4 No. 9 (usually No. 2), her well-struck approach shot went through the green, then she chipped poorly and three-putted from 15 feet for another double bogey. At that point, she was 6 over and “a little frustrated,” she said, ducking her head on the green of the same hole where she had tried to laugh off the rough conditions just moments earlier.
But she regrouped. Dalton played solidly on the back nine, birdieing the par-5 No. 12 after a great shot out of a fairway bunker, hitting seven greens in regulation and saving pars when necessary.
“A lot of it’s your attitude,” she said of salvaging a round. “You can get pretty mad and keep that angry energy, but that’s something I’m really trying to do, is not react in my mind. I think that just comes with experience.”
Sturgeon knew what she was getting into this week, as a club pro temporarily experiencing life in an LPGA Tour-brand event. Yet the wind and the environment still worked against her.
“You’re just trying to get mentally ready for (the wind),” she said. “Unfortunately, I just couldn’t settle into it and accept it. I feel like I was fighting it a lot. I knew it was coming, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.”
Same with performing in a tour setting. Sturgeon labeled herself as “a little bit more prepared” than last year, but she “still had a lot of nerves going.”
Through 36 holes of the 2022 PGA Professional Championship at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, eight of the 11 qualified Utah Section professionals have made the first cut.
“Utah always performs well here, but this depth is remarkable,” Kurt Kragthorpe, senior Fairways Media writer, said.
Bruce Summerhays, Casey Fowles, Matt Baird, Joe Summerhays, Craig Hocknull, Tommy Sharp, Jordan Gibbs and Steve Schneiter all survived the first cut – from 312 players to 90. Another cut will be made to the top 70 players after today’s third round.
Utah Section Professionals Chris Moody, Pete Stone and Todd Tanner fell just shy of the 36-hole cut.
The top 20 will advance to next month’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills Golf Course in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 16-22.
As the third round is underway now, 3-under par cracks the top 20. Bruce Summerhays and Fowles are currently 1-under.
April is a special month for golfers, mostly because the playing of the Masters at Augusta National, but also for the beginning of a new golf season in Utah. The Utah PGA Spring Pro-Pro, presented by Charley Carlson and hosted by Ogden Country Club signifies that the season is in full bloom.
Davis Park Head Professional Zach Johnson and new Assistant Professional Caiden Jones teamed up to win the Pro-Pro with a Fourball score of (-10) 62, which included eight birdies and an eagle.
“We both chipped in for birdie,” Johnson said. “Caiden made an awesome eagle, made some birdies and good par saves when I was in my pocket. It was a good team effort.”
Jones, who started the PGA Professional Golf Management program in January, couldn’t have started his Utah Section playing career any better.
“We hammed-and-egged it pretty good,” Jones said. “This is my first Section event, it feels great to come out on top. I have to thank Zach for getting me out here.”
Salt Lake Golf Academy Professionals Tommy Sharp and Corey Badger finished runner-up with a (-9) 63 while Eagle Lake Professionals Eric Bumstead and Joe Summerhays finished third at (-7) 65.
Southgate Professionals Eron Deming and Tyler Dalton finished first in the net division with a (-12) 60.
Per tradition, the Spring Pro-Pro acts as a seeding round for the Utah Section PGA Fourball Championship. In true Utah Spring form, the first and second rounds of the Fourball Championship, scheduled to be played April 12th at Ogden CC, were postponed due to snow.
Johnson & Jones will take the first seed. Johnson won the 2021 Fourball Championship alongside Hubbard Golf Course at Hill Air Force Base Director of Golf Shawn Edwards. He’ll look to defend this year with Jones.
Before golf was played, we had the opportunity to meet as a membership for our Spring Meeting, hoping to set us off on right foot for the 2022 season. After the meeting, out newest Class-A Member Xena Motes was presented her membership plaque. Motes is the head professional at Hubbard.
Thank you to Charley Carlson for supporting the Utah Section and the Spring Pro-Pro every year and thank you to Craig Sarlo, Bob Wallis and the Ogden Country Club staff for hosting our membership.
Ernie Schneiter Jr. long ago was inducted into the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, and he has received multiple honors from the Utah Section PGA and the Utah Golf Association during his 70-plus-year tenure as a golf professional.
The recognition keeps coming, in his 90s. Schneiter was presented a Distinguished Service Award on April 6 during the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation’s annual Spring Honors and Awards Banquet in Salt Lake City.
Schneiter was recognized for his impact in northern Utah, having redesigned and expanded Schneiter’s Riverside Golf Course in Riverdale and built Schneiter’s Bluff GC in West Point. He’s credited with introducing countless golfers to the game while promoting golf on a one-on-one basis with his personable nature.
The Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation annually presents one or two Distinguished Service Awards. High school drill team advocate Lori Rupp will be honored alongside Schneiter in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum in the City Creek Center.
Joe Cravens was recognized as a Coach of Merit and Roger Buhrley, John Colosimo, Gil Cordova, Gail Meakins, Alaina Parker and Dave Wigham were named Distinguished High School Coaches.
Schneiter, a 1948 graduate of Weber High School, was inducted into the Utah Golf Hall of Fame in 2004, along with Mike Weir and Mary Lou Baker. He was named the Utah Section PGA Professional of the Year in 1997 and received both the UGA’s Gold Club Award and the PGA’s Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award in 2000.
It’s. HERE. My favorite golf week of the year… The Masters. As I think about everything that goes into preparing to host the best golfers in the world, I think about the teams of people involved. The team that puts on each major championship in 2022 has worked diligently for years prior to prepare for their time in the spotlight. While you may never host an event of this magnitude at your facility, you probably have experience preparing for “major” events. The time, energy, and dedication spent to ensure that tournaments such as your Club Championship or Member-Guest are a success serves as a valuable reminder of the importance of preparation.
My colleague Todd Smith, PGA once wrote an article on the importance of properly preparing for interviews by comparing them to playing a practice round. As one of the most decorated players in the PGA of America and a multi-time participant in the PGA Championship, he knows what he’s talking about. It was an important topic, and his article caused me to consider other career-related “major” events that should demand your attention. Like the annual calendar of major golf events, I have identified an annual cadence of four “major” career events that you should complete to prepare you for future success.
What is a “major” career-related event? In my opinion, it is anything that impacts the quality of your job, your enjoyment of it, or the intersection of your work and the rest of your life. Adding the following events to your annual calendar is a positive first step in achieving each of those objectives.
Annual Self-Evaluation and Employer Review – While the effectiveness of annual reviews is often debated and many employees dread the process, you can turn your review into a productive, career-building interaction with some additional preparation. Start with an honest self-evaluation of your performance during the year. Did you reach the goals you set for yourself? Did you meet the performance objectives of your employer? Can you clearly articulate the value you provided using real data? Use the time with your employer to discuss personal goals and understand their vision for the future. Your employer’s feedback and insight can be valuable resources and serve as a guide to identify opportunities for growth.
Update Your Resume – After a thorough self-evaluation and employer review, it’s time to update your resume to include your greatest successes and highlight additional skills or experiences that you have gained. If you were able to clearly articulate the value you provided to your employer during the review process, add those success stories to your resume as impactful bullet points.
Reassess Values & Priorities – Your time, energy, & resources are all finite, which means you need to be intentional about how you choose to spend them. Have there been meaningful changes in your personal life? Were there any significant changes to your job or at your workplace? In either case, any dramatic changes may necessitate a shift in your priorities, which may require options you’ve never considered before. In that instance, seeking the counsel of someone with an outsider’s perspective may be beneficial.
Goal Setting – This is a critical step, as goals help to define exactly what will demand your attention from this point forward. Using the knowledge gained through your Self-Evaluation, Employer Review & Values Assessment, set specific goals that will help you meet the expectations of your employer while finding the correct balance between your work and your life. Be sure to write them down and share them with someone who will hold you accountable.
There you have it. A schedule of “major” career events that, like the Masters, should be highlights of your annual calendar. The timing of each will vary depending on your season, but when the time comes, I encourage you to connect with your mentors or myself to help guide you through the process.
CLICK HERE to make an appointment with Keith Soriano, Regional Director |Member & Section Operations.
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On behalf of the Utah Section PGA we wish you all the best and hope this is your best season ever.