Summerhays Wins Senior Match Play Championship

Joe Summerhays didn’t waste much time after turning 50 late last season to win his first Section senior event. From 32 to one, Summerhays outlasted them all in the Utah PGA Senior Match Play Championship, winning the semifinal and final matches at Alpine Country Club July 14th.

Summerhays defeated Todd Meyer 3&2 in the semifinal and Matt Johnson 6&5 in the final. The common denominator between both matches? A lot of birdies to start each match.

He birdied the first three holes in the semifinal match against Meyer to build a quick lead and birdied three of the first five holes against Johnson, which was part of the game plan going into Thursday’s matches.

“It’s important for me in match play to get out ahead,” Summerhays said of his hot starts. “That’s how I play best, I struggle when I’m behind. When I do that I feel more comfortable.”

As a relatively new senior in the Section, this is Summerhays’ first attempt at the Senior Match Play Championship.

“It’s fun to win a match play tournament because it’s tough to win, each match is crazy different. It’s a good accomplishment.”

On his way to the title, Summerhays defeated Kevin Connole, Scott Brandt, Eric Nielsen, Meyer and then Johnson.

Johnson, a PGA Life Member, made it to the championship match after defeated defending champion Mark Owen in 20 holes.

Johnson birdied holes 17 and 18 to force the playoff and then the second playoff hole to earn a spot in the final.

Summerhays will compete in the remaining Section events, including the Utah Open and Section Championship, and then he’ll set off to various state opens and PGA Champions Tour Q School to try and earn some status on the senior tour.

Thank you to Stonebridge, Willow Creek and Alpine for hosting the 2022 Senior Match Play Championship!

Full Bracket


Baird & Wightman Win Four-Ball Championship

Riverside Country Club Teaching Professional Matt Baird and Thanksgiving Point Head Professional Tele Wightman team up every year to win the Utah Section PGA Four-Ball Championship, and on June 30th at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club in Park City, Utah, they finally did.

From 32 teams to one, Baird and Wightman faced Park Meadows Country Club Professionals Nick Owen and Steve Patterson, first time Four-Ball Championship finalists, and outlasted them 3&2 – with a chip-in eagle from Baird to finalize play.

“This one is really special,” Wightman said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time and have always wanted to get a win in this. We’ve just never been able to get over the hump, each year ended in tough losses. We were able to find a way to keep winning and advancing this year. Today was so fun.”

Through 16 holes, Baird and Wightman had seven birdies, one eagle and a lone bogey. Owen and Patterson put up quite a fight of their own with four birdies and an eagle, but could never quite find the lead.

Steve Patterson & Nick Owen

“It was fun today for the two of us because we both played great, especially when one of us were out of the hole,” Baird said.

“My chip-in was honestly set up with Tele’s great bunker shot to a couple feet from the hole,” Baird said of his eagle on 16, which ended the match, even though Owen had a knock-in for eagle as well. “That actually freed me up. I used my sand wedge to be a little more aggressive and it came off right on line.”

Baird and Wightman’s path to the championship included wins over Devin Dehlin/Matt Johnson, Allen Enochson/Jared Barnes, Ryan Rhees/Tracy Zobell, Mark Owen/Steve Schneiter and then the championship match at Jeremy Ranch.

Thank you to Charley Carlson for his continued sponsorship and support of the Spring Pro-Pro and Four-Ball Championship. And thank you to Ogden Country Club, Thanksgiving Point, Valley View and Jeremy Ranch for hosting matches along the way.

Click here for the Four-Ball Bracket.

Click here for Photos.

Mountain & Midwest

Members First: Meet your PGA Mountain & Midwest Region Team

PGA of America hires 3 new consultants to complete a team of 6 industry experts to support the professional development, operational excellence, and future success of the Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rocky Mountain, and Utah PGA Sections

Frisco, TX (June 22, 2022) – The Mountain & Midwest Region covers 6 PGA Sections and all or part of 14 different states.  The Regional Model was designed to ensure that resources, conversations, and collaboration are happening at the grassroots level where Sections, PGA Members, and Associates live and work.  Through intentional collaboration in critical member-centric services, the Member & Section Operations Department will deliver on the PGA’s mission to “Serve the Member, and Grow the Game” In support of that initiative, the PGA of America’s Member & Section Operations department announces the addition of 3 new Career Consultants in the Minnesota, Rocky Mountain/Utah, and Nebraska/Iowa Sections of the Mountain & Midwest Region to augment the Regional Director, Recruiting Specialist, and Player Engagement Consultant already serving the region. 

Meet the team:

Keith Soriano, PGA | Regional Director | Mountain & Midwest Region

Following 5 years as the Career Consultant for the Colorado and Utah PGA Sections, Keith has assumed the role of Regional Director for the Mountain & Midwest Region.  In this new role, he will lead the team of consultants who serve the M&M Region as well as serve as the career consultant for the Colorado Section. An Army Brat, Keith had 11 home addresses before the age of 18.  Following graduation from the University of Colorado, Keith has spent the last 22 years in the golf industry in Colorado, which makes Colorado home now.  He has served in multiple roles including Assistant Executive Director, Director of Golf, Head Golf Professional, Assistant Professional, Tournament Director, Sales & Marketing Director and High School Coach.  Keith is also a 3-time Section award winner and previous board member.  He believes strongly that golf can be used to have a positive impact in people’s lives and communities around the world, and that PGA Professionals are the most critical element in that ecosystem.

An advocate for continuous personal and professional development, Keith recently earned his MBA from Louisiana State University and was the first PGA Member in the Association to become a Certified Professional in all 7 career paths through the PGA’s Lifelong Learning program.  Keith and his wife of 15 years, Holli, live in the northern suburbs of Denver with their daughters Delaney and Ellie.  When not working, Keith enjoys fly fishing, pheasant hunting, and cheering on the Colorado Avalanche and his beloved, albeit underachieving, Colorado Buffaloes.

Mike Aldrich, PGA | Player Engagement Consultant | Mountain & Midwest Region

Mike is proud to be a member of the Mountains & Midwest Region as the Player Engagement Consultant, with a varied background in multiple Sections over his 28 years as a Golf Professional. Most recently, he was the Director of Player Development at Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he increased the instruction revenue from $8000 to $104,000 in three years, and is proud to have less than a 3% resignation from his students against the 17% attrition rate of the entire membership. Before that, Mike was a Player Development Regional Manager serving the Middle Atlantic Region.

Mike just celebrated his 30th Wedding Anniversary with his wife Laura, who runs Licensing for the Property Brothers, and has two grown daughters, Emily, who is a Quality Engineer and Molly, who is a litigation assistant. Mike spends his spare time learning about human behavior and the golf swing, and tries to put a fly in the water whenever a moment presents itself. If you’d like to hear about his decade in endurance sports, just mention cycling, swimming or running and he’d be happy to regale you his 2011 Ironman Finish in Coeur d’Alene.  Mike wakes up every morning excited to help his fellow professionals create lives that are personally and financially rewarding.

Kate Drimel, PGA | Recruiting Specialist | Mountain & Midwest Region

PGA Professional Kate Drimel serves as a PGA Career Services Recruiting Specialist, proudly serving the Mountain region. Born and raised in Minnesota, she was exposed to the game and business of golf as a second generation PGA Member.  She has worked across many sectors within the golf industry, from private and public green grass facilities to digital marketing companies and the Minnesota PGA Section. Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration Marketing Management from the University of St. Thomas, where she played for the golf team. She has earned several golf scholarships, including the Minnesota PGA Assistants Chapter Associates Scholarship, an Academic Scholarship from the PGA of America and was named an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.

Andrea Kloppman-Heit, PGA | Career Consultant | Minnesota Section

Andrea joins the Career Services team as a Career Consultant in Minnesota Section after a 17 year career that includes positions as a PGA Head Golf Professional, Assistant Golf Professional, Golf Coach, Independent Instructor, Merchandiser/Buyer, and Sales Representative.  A native of Eau Clair, WI, Andrea graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. An instrumental player for the UWEC women’s golf team that finished in 3rd Place in the NCAA DIII National Championship, Andrea was the 36th ranked player in the nation.  Following graduation, Andrea began her professional career as an Assistant Professional at HIllcrest Golf Club of St. Paul.  Following HIllcrest, Andrea moved on to Southview Country Club in West St. Paul where she served as an Assistant and later promoted to the Head Golf Professional position. Her extensive experience will be a tremendous asset as she serves the PGA Members, Associates, and Industry Partners in the Minnesota Section.  Andrea and her husband, PGA Professional Brent Heit, reside in Hudson, WI with their son Hogan and dog Snoopy.

Lucas Brick, PGA | Career Consultant | Rocky Mountain & Utah Sections

Lucas joins the Career Services team after 12 years as a PGA Professional in the Rocky Mountain Section, most recently serving as the Head Golf Professional at the Valley Club in Sun Valley, Idaho. During his time in the Rocky Mountain Section, Lucas served in various leadership roles, including Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Snake River Chapter. He also served six years as a Board Member of the Rocky Mountain Section, as well as on several committees. Lucas is a two time Section award winner, including the 2018 Player Development Award and the 2021 Professional Development Award. Lucas resides in Hailey, Idaho with his wife Lindsay and children Xander (3) and Pippa (1). When away from the course, Lucas enjoys spending time with his family outdoors, hiking, fishing and skiing.

Kevin Drew, PGA | Career Consultant | Iowa & Nebraska Sections

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Kevin joins the Career Services team on the heels of a 11 year career at green grass, most recently spending 8 years as the PGA Head Golf Professional at the Field Club of Omaha.  As a graduate of the PGA Golf Management Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kevin spent a year in the Colorado Section before returning home to the Nebraska Section to take on the first of his two head professional positions he’s held.  In addition to his responsibilities at the club, Kevin has served the Nebraska Section as Secretary and spent two terms on the Nebraska PGA Tournament Committee.  Kevin is passionate about building relationships with fellow professionals and assisting PGA Professionals and Associates in the Iowa and Nebraska Sections with their employment and career development for many years to come.  When not on the golf course, Kevin enjoys riding his Peloton bike and cheering on the Cornhuskers with his wife Lisa, daughter Baylor, (with another on the way!), and two dogs.     

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Women’s Golf Day Celebrated at Glenmoor Golf Club

By Randy Dodson

Nearly 100 women enjoyed golf clinics, lunch, keynote speakers and camaraderie at the annual Women’s Golf Day event at Glenmoor Golf Club, June 7th.

Joining Glenmoor golf instructors (Photo left to right) Tess Blair, Alanna Beagley, Head PGA Professional Daric Olsen, keynote speaker Sharlene Wells, Sirene Blair, Denise Larsen and the Utah Golf Hall of Fame’s Sue Nyhus were the South Valley Chamber Women in Business leaders.

Glenmoor GC Head PGA Professional Darci Olsen, the organizer of the event said, “We chose the Women of the World Foundation as the event’s charitable cause this year. They help women refugees learn English, find housing, get schooling, and employment options.”

The Utah Golf Association’s Lisa Imamura and intern Taegan Keep were on hand to help inform women on the importance of GHIN handicaps, a UGA membership, tournaments and playing opportunities.

Speakers included Samira Harnish, the founder of Women of the World. Harnish came to the United State 41 years ago as a refugee and started Women of the World to support other women in like circumstances. South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey spoke about Arnold Palmer and building character.

Sharlene Wells, Miss America 1984, and a former sports broadcaster for ESPN also spoke. In 2015 Hawkes was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Armed Forces. She spoke of her experiences and how women can be bold and still smile, and the importance of  learning to play golf for women in upper management positions. She spoke of her own playing experiences including one of her earliest rounds played with Bob Hope, Johnny Miller and President Ford.

Olsen said, “We were able to raise $2,000. The South Valley Chamber and another local business in attendance generously matched our funds. We were be able to give the Women of the World foundation $4,000. It was a great day of growing the game, giving back and celebrating Women.”

Women’s Golf Day is a global celebration of women and girls in golf. Now in its 7th year, WGD unites people across the globe through golf. Starting in Australia and ending in French Polynesia, events took place for 24 hours straight. Events were held in every continent, apart from Antarctica. 

The events allow a simple and accessible platform to build a golf foundation and skills that will last a lifetime. It creates a network to support the continuation of golf no matter what skill level or interest, while engaging women in an empowering initiative with global impact from a local level. The event transcends race, gender, religion, language, geography or economic status.

For more information please visit


Utah Juniors Qualify for Junior PGA Championship at Cog Hill

The 2022 Junior PGA Championship hosted at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Illinois will have four Utah junior golfers, two boys and two girls, who qualified through the Utah Junior PGA Championship at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah June 13-14.

Looking at the scoreboard alone, you wouldn’t guess the competitors battled through rainy and windy conditions. Alpine’s Cooper Jones shot rounds of (-17) 64-63 to qualify for the championship at Cog Hill. Runner-up, and high school teammate Kihei Akina also put together two rounds in the 60’s with an (-11) 68-65 to snag the second qualifying spot.

“It’s exciting to get in,” Jones said of qualifying. “I haven’t played in it before so I’m excited to get out there. To play a PGA Tour venue is sweet.”

Cooper Jones

Jones put together two bogey-free rounds and was six-under through nine holes in the final round. “Nothing was off, it was just simple golf,” he added.

“Everything was solid all around,” Akina said of his play, “didn’t have too many bogeys and I took care of the par-fives. “It feels good to qualify, I’m excited to go play. If I can play well there, it shows me I can get to the PGA Tour one day like some of the past champions have.”

Kihei Akina

Ali Mulhall is at it again by winning back-to-back Utah Junior PGA Championships. With rounds of (-9) 67-68 she’ll be making her second-consecutive appearance in the Junior PGA Championship.

Ali Mulhall

This time, however, a sudden-death playoff was needed with Sunbin Seo, who also finished T2 in the 2021 Utah championship, to determine a winner.

Seo had rounds of (-9) 66-69 to claim the second qualifying spot and force a playoff with Mulhall.

Sunbin Seo

With a birdie on the first playoff hole, Mulhall took the top spot.

“It almost doesn’t feel real to compete on the same courses as Tour professionals, because I’m just a junior,” Mulhall said about Cog Hill, “but it’s nice to have that opportunity.”

Mulhall won her age division in the 2021 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National and has also qualified to compete in Japan this September in the Professional Long Drivers Ladies World Championship.

Berlin Long (1st alternate)

Seo was undecided on whether she will be able to play in the Junior PGA Championship. If she does not attend, the first alternate is Berlin Long, who finished third with rounds of (-8) 68-68. She also represented Utah in the 2021 Junior PGA Championship.




Utah PGA Jr. Series Major Season Begins with Glenmoor Major; Ofahengaue & Kim earn State Am Spots

The 2022 Utah PGA Junior Series Major season is here, beginning with the Glenmoor Jr. Major played June 10-11 at Glenmoor Golf Club, where two Utah State Amateur exemptions and spots in the season-final Promontory Major were up for grabs.

The 36-hole championship was highlighted by the two available exemptions into the 2022 Utah State Amateur, the longest continuously-running golf championship in the world. The exemptions were available for the boys 15-18 divisions.

Lehi’s KJ Ofahengaue, the Boys Major Player of the Year in 2021, lead the way the entire time with rounds of (-11) 68-65 to claim the first spot in the Utah State Amateur and win the boys 17-18 division.

KJ Ofahengaue

“I kept the ball in play, hit my wedges good, made a lot of putts and had no bogies today,” Ofahengaue said. “I can’t wait for the State Am. That’s a big tournament and I’m looking forward to it.”

Murray’s Peter Kim made a final-round charge with a (-5) 67, leaving him at 7-under for the event to finish runner-up and claim the second spot into the State Am.

Peter Kim and his caddie

“I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself a lot of looks for birdies today,” Kim said. “I haven’t played the State Am, this will be my first time so I’m pretty excited about that.”

Rounding out the boy’s division champions, St. George’s Boston Bracken went (-6) 70-68 to win the boys 15-16 division, two-shots clear of runner-up Noah Moody (-2). There was a three-way tie for third between Will Blanchard, Jackson Shelley and Lincoln Markham at 1-under. All five qualified for the Promontory Major Championship.

Boston Bracken

Matching the low round of the tournament, Jaxon Erickson shot a final round (-7) 65 to win the boys 13-14 division at 7-under, shooting even the first day. Tyse Boman (E) finished 2nd and Mo LeCheminant (+2) finished 3rd.

Jaxon Erickson

Erickson, Boman and LeCheminant were all members of the 2021 PGA Jr. League Thanksgiving Point championship team.

Rounding out the Promontory qualifiers for the Boys 13-14 division is Thomas Seaquist and Ian Miyasaki.

It was a come-from-behind victory for Pati Uluave (+8) in the girls 17-18 division, earning the championship by one-stroke over Millie Terrion (+9). A steady streak of three birdies on the front and a run of six pars on the back seemed to do the trick for Uluave.

Pati Uluave

Jane Olson (+11) finished third and Ellie DeMond (+18) filled the last qualifying spot for Promontory in the division.

Ashley Lam had rounds of (+5) 73-76 to win the girls 15-16 division. And if there were a competition between the girls ages 15-18, she would have won that, too.

Ashley Lam and her caddie/father Dat

Lam will join Madalyn Hadley, Reimi Bleyl and Adley Nelson in August at the Promontory Major Championship.

Last, and certainly not least, is Kate Walker of St. George, who has yet to lose a Utah PGA event she has competed in. She starts 2022 off strong with rounds of (+9) 75-81 to win the girls 13-14 division.

Kate Walker

Natalie Mclane, Stratton Durrant and Remi Rawlings fill out the top five and earn a spot in the season-ending championship.

Thank you to all who played and especially to Glenmoor Head Professional Darci Olsen for hosting our first Major of the season. The course was in near-perfect conditions thanks to Superintendent Joey Olsen and his staff.

Full Results



Matt Baird Wins 2022 Utah PGA Match Play Championship

Riverside Teaching Professional Matt Baird survives six matches against Utah Section professionals in route to win the 2022 Utah Section PGA Match Play Championship at Hubbard Memorial Golf Course at Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah May 23rd-25th.

Baird is coming off a three-win 2021 season, including the Section Championship, and is picking up right where he left off – with a 5&4 win against Tommy Sharp in the final match and a victory in a tournament he’s been wanting his whole PGA Professional career.

“Something last year kind of clicked with my game,” Baird said. “I went into the National Club Pro feeling pretty good, I didn’t get into the PGA Championship, but I just felt like this was going to be a good year.

“This tournament is the one I’ve always wanted to win, so coming into this week I told myself to be really patient and just kind of chug along, and I did.”

In the course of three days, Baird played a lot of golf at Hubbard – nearly averaging 36 holes a day.

On his path to the trophy, he finished 1-up over Jadyn Wayment, 2&1 over Mike Jurca, 2&1 over Tracy Zobell and 2&1 over Jordan Gibbs to get into the Semifinals. That’s when the marathon began with three-time Rolex Women’s Player of the Year Haley Sturgeon, assistant pro at the Salt Lake Country Club and the first woman to reach the Semifinals of the Section Match Play Championship.

Baird got off to a quick lead in the Semifinal match against Sturgeon, going 2-up in the first three holes. However, Sturgeon slowly climbed back and was 1-up with five to play.

Baird would regain a 1-up lead on their 15th hole, but Sturgeon would tie it again with a clutch two-putt on Hubbard’s 7th hole. Tied with two to play, nervy pars were made from both professionals to send the match into extra holes.

Five extra holes were needed to decide a winner. After making several five-foot putts to keep her chances alive, Sturgeon’s par on the par-four 14th hole slipped by the hole, ending her run to the championship match.

Sturgeon’s path to the Semifinals included wins over Brent Shaver, Aaron Purviance, Zach Johnson in 19 holes and Mark Owen in 18. Sturgeon has mentioned in the past her goal of winning the Section’s Rolex Player of the Year in addition to Women’s Player of the Year. A performance like this proves she’s on her way.

“Haley took me to 23 holes and I took that as a positive thing,” Baird said. “When we went to the playoff and I hit my tee shot on 10, I felt something in my swing I think helped me beat Tommy today.”

Salt Lake Golf Academy’s Tommy Sharp cruised to the championship match, passing through Michael Councilman 8&7, Shane Scott 3&2, Bruce Summerhays 7&6, Joe Summerhays 2&1 and then Todd Tanner 2&1.

However, in the final match the putts stopped falling falling for sharp and continued falling for Baird.

Baird birdied three of their first six holes to go 2-up through 9 and continued his run with birdies on Hubbard’s 1st, 4th and 5th holes to win 5&4.

“I love the putter I have,” Baird said. “I was putting it really well this whole week.”

With the win, Baird moves up three spots in the Rolex Player of the Year rankings and sits in 3rd behind Sharp and Casey Fowles.

A big thank you to Derek Bekins, Jason Moon and Major Mir at Hubbard Golf Course for hosting this championship every year and treating our membership well. Thank you to Molly Krick from Maui Jim for sponsoring the event and providing the best sunglasses around.

2022 Match Play Bracket

Haley Sturgeon Smile

Leaving Copper Rock Encouraged

By Kurt Kragthorpe

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 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.

Kendra Dalton tees off on the par-five 5th hole. Photo/Jesse Dodson

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.

Copper Rock Championship 2nd round leader Emma Broze. Photo/Jim Bochenek

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.”

Haley Sturgeon tee shot on the tournament’s 3rd hole at Copper Rock. Photo/Jesse Dodson

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.


Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship Update

By Kurt Kragthorpe

 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 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.

Kendra Dalton, former Utah State Women’s Amateur champion and BYU Cougar.

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.

Haley Sturgeon, Salt Lake Country Club assistant professional and Rolex Women’s Player of the Year.

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.”