The season-long Utah Section PGA Senior Match Play Championship has ended with Mountain View Golf Course Head Professional Mark Owen defeating Bloomington Country Club Director of Golf Scott Brandt 1 up on the 18th hole of the championship match November 13th at Sky Mountain Golf Course.
“Well it was the first time for me, so it feels great,” Owen said about competing in his first Utah PGA Senior Match Play Championship. “The match was incredible. Scott never does anything wrong, we both played well. it just came down to one putt on the last hole, really. I won 1 up after a grudge match all day.
“I was 1 up on 18 and he had a chance to tie it, he had a birdie putt that lipped out and my par ended up being good enough for the win.”
Owen started as the four seed and defeated Jeff Green 4 & 3, Tom Costello in 19 holes, Todd Meyer 1 up and then Troy Watkins in the semifinals 5 & 4.
Brandt reached the finals as the third seed and won matches against Doug Roberts, Charlie Taylor, Henry White and then Ryan Rhees in the semifinals.
Owen went onto win the Southern Utah Open senior division that same weekend in St. George and finished third in the 2020 Utah Section PGA Senior Omega Player of the Year race.
Riverside Country Club Head Professional Chris Moody and Mountain View Golf Course Head Professional Mark Owen teamed up to win the season-long Utah Section PGA Four-Ball Championship at Glenwild Golf Club October 21st with a 2 & 1 victory over Sunset View Head Professional Casey Fowles and Palisade Head Professional Jordan Van Orman.
“The match was exciting from start to finish,” Moody said. “We tied holes one and two. Mark made a birdie on three and I made a birdie on five to give us a 2-up lead. Casey hit a great 4 iron into the 7th hole to 20 feet for eagle. Casey just missed and had a tap-in for birdie. Mark proceeded to make his 19-footer to tie the hole.
“We tied the 8th and Casey made a great putt from 20 feet on 9 and Mark makes another 18-footer to tie the hole. On 10 Jordan made a nice 15-footer for birdie and Mark drains another putt from about 15 feet to tie the hole and keep us 2-up. We tied 11 and Jordan made a nice birdie on 12 to win the hole. On 13 I made about a 20-footer and Jordan made a 15-footer to tie. We tied holes 13-16 and then I made a 20-footer on 17 to end the match. Mark’s putter was on fire!”
After teaming up off-and-on for the last decade, Moody and Owen had never found great success in the championship until now. “It was really nice to finally break through and win,” Moody continued. “With Mark being such a good friend, it made the win that much better.”
With an exciting match to finish the championship, it’s only fitting that their first match was just as close. Moody and Owen shot (-8) 64 in the Spring Pro-Pro seeding round at Ogden Country Club to tie Dustin Volk and Pete Stone and draw the second seed, putting them against Wasatch Golf Course Professionals Chris Stover and Joe Barton.
“Stover and Barton were really up to the challenge that match,” Owen said. “They came out firing on all cylinders and it was a battle. When it was all said and done I believe they were 9 or 10 under and we just happened to make a putt or two more to finish 2-up. It was back and forth all round, though, and neither team was up more than one throughout the match.”
Moody and Owen had another close match in the semi-final match against Bloomington’s Scott Brandt and Jimmy Blair, where they escaped with a 1-up victory to advance to the final.
“It’s better than you can imagine,” Owen said of teaming up with Moody. “Chris is a competitor, just like the rest of us; he really doesn’t like being behind or losing. Chris has a way of getting himself pumped up and performing when it really counts. Chris has game as you can obviously tell from his record of winning over the years. This was our first championship together after quite a number of years of competing. It’s pretty sweet!”
The 2020 Utah Section PGA Women’s Match Play Championship put on a display of the Section’s new associates and a couple of past champions, but it was Carly Dehlin-Hirsch, of Glenmoor and TopGolf, who outlasted them all to win this year’s championship on October 20-21 at Riverside Country Club in Provo.
“My first win as a pro, it’s awesome,” Dehlin-Hirsch said. “I haven’t been playing much so I was nervous to come out because my game isn’t sharp, but I played quite well so I’m really happy to come out here and win.”
After a nine-hole seeding round on the first day, Dehlin-Hirsch claimed the third seed to face Xena Motes, a new associate in the Section as of this month and long-time Utah golf competitor.
Dehlin-Hirsch won her first match on the 16th hole at Riverside and would advance to the semi-finals to face Sadie Palmer, who outlasted former match play champion Emily Jones, also on the 16th hole.
The match between Dehlin-Hirsch and Palmer was a back and forth match where Palmer was 2 up on the front nine until Dehlin-Hirsch found some rhythm and created a comfortable 3-up lead until the 16th hole, when Palmer capitalized on some unwarranted mistakes.
“I was steady all day, then got a little nervous on the way in,” Dehlin-Hirsch noted.
Palmer chipped away the lead and was one down on the 18th tee. Her birdie attempt just barely slipped by the hole, leaving Dehlin-Hirsch a slippery 10-foot putt to finish the match, which she made and determined the shot of her tournament performance.
“In my semi-final match I was three up with three to go and I was just having a collapse, but I made a 10-foot slider to stay alive. That par putt on 18 was pretty big.”
She would go on to face former Utah Women’s State Amateur champion and new section associate Sirene Blair in the final match.
Blair drew Sue Nyhus in the first round then defending champion Haley Sturgeon in the final four where she extended the match to 19 holes and won by sticking her approach a foot from the hole for a conceded birdie.
With her father and Utah Section Executive Director Devin Dehlin on the bag, Dehlin-Hirsch got off to a fast start in the final match with Blair and never looked back.
She won the first four holes and then the 8th hole to get to 5-up on the front nine. Blair won her only hole of the match on the par-three ninth to make the turn.
Dehlin-Hirsch would win three of the next four holes to win the championship on the 13th hole 7 & 5.
“It’s always fun, he’s awesome. My dad is the best,” she said of her caddy. “I was hitting the ball really well; my ball striking was good. I was putting the ball pretty well, too, all those short putts, but really hitting the ball well.”
A thank you to our growing membership of women PGA Professionals who came out to compete and thank you to Riverside Country Club for hosting.
Sunset View Golf Course Head Professional Casey Fowles has appeared in the Utah PGA Match Play finals two times in his PGA Professional career, against two of the best golfers in Utah PGA history in Riverside Professional Chris Moody and in 2019 against Davis Park Assistant Pro Zach Johnson. The third time was the charm for Fowles as he defeated Moody one-up on the 18th hole of the match on October 14th at Hill Air Force Base Hubbard Golf Course.
It was a 20-foot birdie on the short par-four 18th at Hubbard that sealed his win, after Moody’s birdie attempt lipped out prior to Fowles’ attempt. It was the longest putt made in the match.
“I felt fortunate to even get there, I was one-down going into 17 and made a good up-and-down and Moody kind of gave me one there with his long putt,” Fowles explained. “The putt on 17 was the first putt I made all day, a 10-foot, downhill putt. I told myself when I got to 18 that I’d been putting well all week, just try to make the best stroke I can.
“About half way there I thought I missed right, and then it tipped back left and went it, so it was fun.”
Fowles got off to an early lead in the championship match winning the first two holes. He was two-up through four until Moody won holes five and six. The match would remain tied until the 12th hole and from there on it was a back-and-forth match until that 20-footer on 18.
“It was a little crazy, there were a lot of momentum swings,” Fowles added. “In a normal match you maybe don’t see it every hole like that, but yeah it was pretty fun.”
Fowles has seen several victories the last few years and it’s come from a mindset change while competing.
“I was just trying to play the golf course and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, forget about what the other guys are doing and just play the golf course. That has seemed to really help me the last couple of years, just focus on the golf course.”
The Utah PGA Match Play Championship started Monday, October 12th with a seeding round for the top 32 spots and then the first round of matches.
A notable first round match was 2019 Utah PGA Women’s Match Play champion Haley Sturgeon shooting a 73 to claim the 11th seed in the tournament. Her first-round match lasted 20 holes before Quentin Sasser advanced to the next day.
The final four consisted of Moody against Valley View Assistant Pro Pete Stone and Fowles against Johnson.
A special thank you to Hubbard Golf Course Head Professional Shawn Edwards, Hubbard Assistant Pro Tim Kjar and Hubbard Superintendent Jason Moon for hosting the Section Match Play Championship another year.
Taitum Beck, a match play qualifier at this year’s Utah Women’s State Amateur and the champion of this year’s Wisconsin Women’s State Amateur has worked in the golf shop at Wolf Creek Resort for a few years while attending Weber State University.
As a junior on the Wildcat’s women’s golf team she has played the resort course near Eden, Utah many times. On Sept. 21 she shot a career low at the course she now calls home, a 1-over 73. Unfortunately, it was just the opening round of the inaugural Wolf Creek Invitational.
With two solid rounds of (+3) 75-72 – 147 Morgan Bentley, a junior teammate of Beck’s, won the 36-hole event. The Tacoma, Washington native said she, “…just played really solid golf.” Her final round included two birdies against two bogeys.
“I just tried to give it my all for each shot,” said Bentley. “I wanted to put a good stroke on every putt and just trust my game. I didn’t know how I would feel, this season has been so different. It was great to compete again, I really missed it.”
Beck took a two-stroke lead into the final round but admitted to getting caught up in looking ahead and worrying about results. A final round 80 left her in second place.
“I had too many mental mistakes and let my nerves get the best of me today. I was too worried about the results instead of the shot at hand,” Beck said.
The Wisconsin native said, “It was so much fun to be able to play Wolf Creek in a different setting. I love the course and the challenges that it presents.”
Wolf Creek Resort Head PGA Professional Bruce Summerhays, Jr. and staff with support from the Utah Section PGA put the individual stroke play invitational together providing competition for collegiate golfers whose season was cancelled or postponed earlier this year due to global pandemic concerns. There was no team competition during this event. Full results of the Wolf Creek Invitational are AVAILABLE HERE.
The two previous years he had battled Zach Johnson on the final day of the Utah Section PGA Championship only to come up empty and finish second.
At this year’s September tourney, he went into the final day, trailing the two-time champion by a couple of shots and he was still trailing with four holes left, while playing what he called “some of the worst golf all year.”
But the 49-year-old northern Utah teaching pro didn’t get rattled.
“I was patient and stayed in there,” he said.
Summerhays made birdies at holes 6 and 7 (the 15th and 16th of the day), while Johnson bogeyed both holes to turn a two-stroke deficit into a two-shot lead, which he held onto for his first-ever Utah Section PGA Professional Championship victory. Summerhays finished at 141, while Johnson tied for second with Chris Moody and Pete Stone at 143.
“When you’re playing well, you can be more patient because you know you’re going to start hitting some good shots again,” he said. “I’ve done that this year where I’ve started off bad, but I’ve been patient and been able to bring it back. My patience was my key to the win.”
As happy as he was with the victory, Summerhays was more thrilled for his younger brother, Bruce, who finished in a tie for sixth, qualifying for next spring’s National PGA Professional Championship.
Bruce hasn’t had the success of others in the Summerhays family, but Joe knows what a good player he is and that he doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Joe played with his brother in the final round and became emotional on the final hole when he realized he would qualify for the national club pro event for the first time.
“I wasn’t feeling anything for me, I was just so proud of him,” Joe said. “I’m way more excited for him, he deserves it. We come from a family of really good golfers, but he doesn’t get the credit. He can really play and it was fun to see it. He played really well.” Besides the two Summerhays brothers, Johnson, Stone and Moody, Aaron Purviance and Matt Baird, also qualified for next spring’s PGA Professional Championship.
Below paragraphs added by Jesse Dodson.
Bloomington Country Club Director of Golf Scott Brandt took both the Senior and Super Senior divisions with a final total of 140, seven shots clear of the runner up finishers.
PGA of America Life Member Robert Rudd finished at 151 to win the Legend Division.
Story By Kurt Kragthorpe for the Salt Lake Tribune
Organizers of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship could have created a much more dramatic finish Sunday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open if they had awarded former BYU star Peter Kuest a sponsor exemption as a rookie pro.
Kuest instead returned to Riverside Country Club and turned the Utah Open into a runaway on the Cougars’ home course, claiming the $15,000 first prize. As the final round unfolded, the only question became whether Kuest could challenge former BYU teammate Patrick Fishburn’s tournament-record score — not that he was aware of Fishburn’s 26-under-par total for three rounds, prior to the post-round interview.
“It would have been sweet to get the record,” Kuest said, “but a win’s good enough.”
Especially when the margin of victory is seven strokes, comparable to Fishburn’s nine-shot win a couple of weeks before starting his senior year in 2017. Kuest finished at 23 under, making three birdies and a bogey on the back nine after having given himself a shot at the 54-hole record with four birdies on the front side.
Kuest labeled the final round “a grind … but a lot of fun,” having posted a 66 to follow his 63-64 start. Kavan Eubank, a recent Texas A&M graduate who’s now a Boise State assistant golf coach, closed with a 65. Eubank took second and Colorado pro Zahkai Brown, a frequent high finisher in the Utah Open, tied for third during what became a disappointing day for some Utah club professionals.
Riverside Teaching Pro Matt Baird played in the final group and faded to a tie for seventh place overall (worth $4,233), although he earned a $1,500 bonus as the low member of the Utah Section PGA. Glenwild Golf Club Director of Instruction Craig Hocknull rallied to shoot a 75, after starting the day in a tie for third and going 7 over on the front nine.
The amateurs provided most of Sunday’s intrigue. BYU golfer Kelton Hirsch shot a 14-under total for the second straight year and again lost a playoff. In this case, he was contending for low amateur honors. St. George’s Hayden Christensen topped him with a par on the first playoff hole, after matching Sunday’s low score of 65.
Christensen, who plans to turn pro after the State Amateur in early September, started the round 10 strokes out of the lead and briefly allowed himself to wonder about catching Kuest. That thinking was almost justified, considering Christensen chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 No. 5 and played the first seven holes in 7 under. That’s where he finished. Yet even after not fully capitalizing on his spectacular possibilities, he was hardly unhappy afterward, “because I’ve never been in that position before,” he said.
Kuest’s closing 66 was not entirely satisfying, as he needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker on the par-3 No. 17 and made a bogey. He liked the way he started the round and separated himself from any potential challengers, though. And even amid his big-time ambitions in pro golf, $15,000 seems like a lot of money, at the moment. In five PGA Tour starts this summer, he earned only $7,525.
Asked what the return to Riverside did for his career, Kuest smiled and said, “It got me a little more money in my bank account, for sure. It just verified what I’ve been doing and that my hard work’s starting to pay off a little bit more, and that I can really compete and take it low.”
The Californian is targeting more sponsor exemptions in September and October, as the Tour’s 2020-21 schedule begins. The 2017 West Coast Conference Championship at Riverside was the first of Kuest’s 10 wins as a collegian. He would love to have the Utah Open become the start of big things to come in pro golf.
In the fourth running of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open, the field showed the event continues to grow and draw in not only local professionals and amateurs, but out-of-state collegians and professionals as well. In a season where collegiate golf is up in the air, the Utah Women’s Open provides a competitive outlet for many.
It was University of Nevada, Las Vegas incoming junior Veronica Joels that took control of the final round August 4th at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club in Lehi, Utah, with a closing (-6) 66, providing a three-stroke victory over Low Pro and two-time champion Lea Garner.
Joels started the day three-strokes behind Brigham Young University’s Kerstin Fotu, who held the first-round lead with a (-2) 70.
“I’m kind of just a go-getter,” Joels said of her three-stroke deficit to begin the final round. “Being three-shots back is like, it can flip at any time, it’s golf. You can flip it real fast.”
Joels got to work quickly on the front nine with birdies on holes 3, 4, 5 and 8 for a four-under 32. Though she sealed the deal with two closing birdies on 17 and 18, a great comeback from a bogey on 16.
“Putting was really working for me today,” she said. “I definitely made anything within 10-12 feet, it was just there for me. Putting was the difference for sure.”
Like many, Joels’ collegiate season was cut short in March. She’s substituted her time playing in 13 Cactus Tour events in Arizona. She competed in the Nevada Women’s State Am and then decided to give the Utah Women’s Open a run, and did it well.
With her victory, she earned an exemption into the 2020 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open played August 14-16 at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah.
It seems as if two-time Utah Women’s Open champion Lea Garner will perpetually be in contention at this event, and she’s okay with that. She finished Low Pro at (-2) 72-70 and in second place overall, taking home the $2,000 check.
What made her 2020 showing even more impressive is her typical travel schedule for this time of year has been put aside for precaution, leaving the Utah Women’s Open as a welcoming opportunity for the former BYU women’s golfer.
“Just being out here and competing is really fun,” Garner said. “Because of the circumstances of this summer I haven’t played in too many tournaments so I’m just excited to be out here and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
“I’m always excited for this tournament and I’m really happy that the Utah Section decided to put it on for this year so it’s really exciting to compete and be in that spot again.”
It looks like this will be Garner’s last event of the year, “just because things have been kind of crazy.” Instead, she’s been giving lessons and teaching in Ogden and working on her own game when she has the time.
The Utah Section PGA would like to thank Siegfried & Jensen for their continued support of women’s golf in Utah and to Head Pro Tele Wightman and his Thanksgiving Point Golf Club staff for hosting.
BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu wasn’t able to successfully defend her 2019 Utah Women’s State Amateur title last month, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Grace Summerhays at Soldier Hollow Golf Club in Midway.
Seemingly unfazed, Fotu jumped out to the lead on Monday in the fourth annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. Fotu, a Lone Peak High product who will be a sophomore at BYU this fall, fired a 2-under-par 70 and leads fellow amateur Tess Blair by a stroke heading into Tuesday’s final round.
Blair, a Bingham High product who was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year at Sacramento State last season, is at 71. She’s followed by professionals Lea Garner and Sadie Palmer, and amateurs Lila Galea’i and Ali Mulhall at 72.
Garner, the two-time winner of the event, is a former BYU and Bonneville High golfer who plays mini-tour events throughout the West.
University of San Francisco golfer Annika Borrelli, the 2019 champion, is not entered this year.
Five golfers shot 1-over-par 73 and are tied for seventh. That group is made up of Salt Lake City pro Haley Sturgeon, Ogden pro Xena Motes, BYU golfer Naomi Soifua, Las Vegas amateur Veronica Joels and Orem amateur Kiselya Plewe, a Weber State standout.
Fotu, from Highland, made a bogey on her first hole but birdied hole Nos. 5 and 7 to gain some momentum. She bogeyed No. 9, then got back under par with a birdie on No. 14 and finished with a birdie on the difficult par-3 17th hole to take the first-round lead.
For Mountain View GC Head Professional Mark Owen, the defending champ, the Utah Senior Open is more than a Utah Section PGA Championship.
“This has become one of my favorite tournaments because of the people, all the honorees that have made such an impact on my life and my career. I am happy to say that I have won this one but its always hard to defend, there are so many good amateur players as well as senior pro players.”
The putter was hot for Owen in the opening round, “It seemed all the eight to 10 foot putts were doable today,” he said. Owen made four birdies in a row on holes 4-7 after a bogey on the par 3 second hole. He added three more birdies on the back nine.
On the final round, Owen finished with just three birdies on the day and carded two bogies, finishing in a tie for second with The Oaks Head Pro Ryan Rhees. The two Utah Section PGA members split the Low Pro money.
It was Kirk Siddens (a) who took home the crystal champion trophy with rounds of (-9) 66-69.
Speaking of Siddens, Owen said, “Over the years we’ve had a lot of good games. We used to play a lot of money games together. He’s an excellent player and very capable. He’s had some really good scores this summer.”
Siddens had 11 birdies over his 36-hole performance in the Nevada desert rebounding nicely from his Mid-Am disappointment the week prior.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group,” Siddens said. “Mark and I have played many times over the years. I know Mark’s game and I know he can play. We putted out on 18 and had to ask each other, who won?”
Fellow senior amateur Rob Bachman turned in a (-3) 141 to win the Super Senior Division, two shots better than pros Brad Stone, David Hall, Terry Outzen, Scott Brandt and amateur Mike Hacker. Amateur Richard Bradley won the Legend Division at (+3) 147, two shots better than professional Chip Garriss.
Retired Utah Section PGA Professional Wayne Volk, who had worked for over 40 years at Hill Air Force Base’s Hubbard golf course was this year’s honoree. Volk was honored by his son Dustin Volk, head pro a Valley View and current Section president in a small ceremony outdoors on the clubhouse balcony at Toana Vista GC.
Randy Dodson is the president of Fairways Media and a frequent contributor to Fairways.