Volume 23 • Issue 2 • June 2014

June 2014 Issue

Official Monthly Digital Magazine

of the Utah Golf Association

Utah Girls Golf - State Championships

by Mike Sorensen

Governor Herbert

Supports Utah Golf

Walker's Words
Dog Days

Moody Gets Defensive

by V. Scott Whittaker

by Kurt Kragthorpe

by Bill Walker

Billy Casper Golf Academy

by Dick Harmon

A Look Ahead to the Utah State Amateur

Siddens Repeats

at Senior Match Play

by Dick Harmon

by Mike Sorensen

View the June 2014 issue below

Cover Feature • June 2014

Utah Girls Golf - State Championships

by Mike Sorensen

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Provo High Girls Golf Team: Back Row (Left to Right) Coach Brett Watson, Hannah Miller, Coach David Walker

Front Row (Left to Right) Savanna Harward, Tyla Hunter, Naomi Soifua, Ciaran Burton, Abbey Harward

For Provo High freshman Naomi Soifua, May 14 was a bittersweet day. That was the day she captured the 4A girls individual golf championship at East Bay Golf Course in Provo, Utah and led her team to its first-ever state championship.

However, it was also the day she learned that her uncle John, who had helped get her started in golf at a young age, had passed away due to a heart condition. She knew before she teed off his condition was grave and was told after the round about his passing.

“My Uncle John is the one who got our whole family golfing,’’ Soifua said. “He was definitely a big impact on my golf career and so supportive in whatever I do.’’

Soifua is one of the top girl junior golfers in the state and has a very bright future. Two years ago at the age of 13, Soifua made it to the finals of the Utah Women’s State Amateur at Logan Golf and Country Club.

She lived up to her billing at her first-ever prep state golf tournament by shooting a 1-under-par 71, four shots better than Bonneville’s Tallie Alder and Orem’s Xena Motes.

Provo finished with 315 points in the modified Stableford scoring, 11 points better than defending 4A champion Box Elder. Bonneville finished third at 295, followed by Logan at 293 and Bountiful at 287.

Besides Soifua, Abbey Harward shot an 84, good for 78 points, and Hannah Miller and Ciaran Burton each had an 89 (73 points) for Provo.

“Our girls have worked so hard for this and it took the entire team,’’ said Provo coach Dave Walker. “Naomi was huge for us, but it took everyone and we got a complete effort.’’

Soifua had heard her uncle had been taken to the hospital right before her round began and nearly didn’t want to even play. But she played with him on her mind and came through with an excellent round.

“He always taught me to smile and be happy, so that’s what I try and do,’’ Soifua said. “I thought I did pretty good today. I know my uncle would be proud of me.’’

 

5A Girls State Championship

A year after losing by a single point to Bingham, the Davis High girls golf team cruised to a 16-point win over Alta in the 5A girls championship at Bountiful Ridge Golf Course.

The Davis Darts have one of the youngest golf teams in the state, but their three sophomores and one junior compiled a score of 326 in the modified Stableford scoring system. The Alta Hawks were second at 310, followed by Lone Peak at 303, Weber at 297 and American Fork at 285.

Sophomore Laura Gerner led the way for Davis with a 73, which was good for 90 points and a third-place finish, while sophomore Jessica Sloot tied for fourth place with a 79 and 83 points. The other scorers for Davis in the four-of-six scoring format were junior Ashley Hale with an 84 (78 points) and sophomore Tayler Brenchley with an 87 (75 points).

Third-year Davis coach Lori Salvo, who was once a star volleyball and basketball player for the University of Utah, was thrilled with her team’s victory after coming so close a year earlier.

“It was awesome,’’ said Salvo of her team’s victory. “I have a lot of emotion because I know how hard these kids work and they put a lot of added pressure on themselves coming into this.’’

Alta’s Madi Rooker took individual honors with a 1-under-par 71, a stroke better than Gerner and two shots ahead of Lone Peak freshman Kerstin Fotu at 73.

“It’s incredible—I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,’’ said Rooker, who finished fourth a year ago. “I tried to just stay focused on my own game. I couldn’t have done it without all the people here to support me today.’’

Rooker, who has a scholarship at Weber State next year, started strong with birdies on the first two holes and then after making a couple of bogeys, regained her momentum with a birdie at No. 12. She birdied No. 16 and made pars on the final two holes and didn’t know she was the winner until she went in the clubhouse and saw the scores.

 

3A Girls State Championship

It wasn’t easy, but Desert Hills won its fifth straight 3A title at Mountain View Golf Course in West Jordan, edging fellow St. George school Dixie by nine points.

Led by junior Katie Perkins, who won medalist honors for the second straight year, the Thunder amassed 323 points in the modified Stableford scoring system.

Perkins fired a 3-under-par 69 and beat teammate Megan Welch and Dixie’s Gracie Richins, who both shot 72s.

Coach Laurie Dyer said her team “played their guts out” and praised her whole team, particularly Perkins for her “amazing” round.

Perkins said her short game was a key as she was able to get up and down after missing some greens. She also “drained some long putts,’’ including a 15-footer at No. 13 for birdie and hit the ball straight all day.

When asked about the team victory, Perkins got choked up and said “It means a lot to our team. It’s our fifth straight win. It feels really good—we worked really hard for it.’’

Park City came in third place at 310, followed by Uintah at 294 and Bear River at 292.

Among the individuals, Justine Connell of Juan Diego was fourth with a 74, Pine View’s Taylor Bandley shot 78, Desert Hills Kyla Smith tied Uintah’s Nicole Begay at 79, while Dixie’s Mikayla Frei and Morgan’s Olivia Anderson tied at 82.

 

2A Girls State Championship

Delta edged Rowland Hall by five points to win the 2A golf tournament at Cove View Golf Course in Richfield.

Millard High’s Marissa Louder easily won the individual title, shooting a 5-over-par 77 to win by nine shots over Rowland Halls’s Caity Kwun. However, Delta put four girls in the top 15 as Melody Brinkerhoff fired an 87, Stacia Hill shot 90, Brooklyn Henrie had a 99 and Jensie Bahr a 103.

 

1A Girls State Championship

Milford won the 1A title at Southgate Golf Club in St. George with 222 points, well ahead of Rich and Dugway, which tied for second with 188 points.

Dugway’s Allie Hall was the low medalist with a score of 100, just ahead of Bryce Valley’s Ashlee Chynoweth and St. Joseph’s Mady White two shots back. Saydee Rollins was Milford’s low scorer at 103.

 

1A Boys State Championship

Thanks to the Jarman brothers, McKay and Mitch, Rich High School took the 1A golf title at Southgate Golf Club. McKay Jarman had rounds of 81 and 84 to take second place overall, while Mitch Jarman rebounded from an opening round 98 to shoot 86 in the second round and

Green River had led by 12 strokes after the first day, but the Rebels came storming back on Day 2 to finish with a score of 732, five strokes better than the Pirates. Monticello finished third with a 744 total behind Tanner Eardley, who finished third overall at 166.

Milford’s Garreth Mayer took low medalist honors with a pair of 81s for a 162 total. Green River was led by Chance Pfander, who had opened with a 75, but struggled to a 97 in the second round for a 172 total.

 

Department • June 2014

Dog Days

by Bill Walker

Walker's Word

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June is here so its official, the tournament season has begun.  To use a boxing term, the Utah competitive golf scene has “pound for pound” the best schedule in the country.  Every week there is a litany of events for every different level of competitor around the state.

 Looking at both the statewide public and Utah Golf Association championship schedules my thoughts turn to the hard work, dedication and teamwork that our many volunteers put into administering these great championships.

 The Utah Golf Association is fortunate to have numerous volunteers that assist us in running our various programs including course rating, handicapping, membership programs as well as  the UGA championships.  Volunteers are the lifeblood golf everywhere  and the UGA is no exception to that fact.  Whether it is a statewide championship, junior golf program or PGA TOUR or LPGA TOUR event, volunteers are what make them go.

 We have had many outstanding volunteers throughout the years who have given so much of their time to Utah Golf Association that it is difficult to spotlight any one individual when it comes to dedication to the UGA and the game of golf.

 This spring prior to UGA Winterchamps, our organization lost one of our of core volunteers in Gordon Sperry to a late detected, fast moving cancer.  Gordon or “Gordie” as he was known to most of us was “Mr. First Tee”.  As many amateurs and professional golfers in the state can attest, if there was a big golf event in Utah, Gordie was there calling their name on the first tee.

 As many in the golf industry know the summer months can make you feel at times like you are Bill Murray waking up to Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve got you, Babe” in Groundhog Day.  Another day, another tournament!  Gordie, no matter how many days he may have worked in row, or how many miles he drove,  was always there on the first tee, informing players of the rules of play for day and starting their championship experience.

 Gordie  worked as a volunteer for nearly 40 years and would probably be embarrassed by any public recognition that he received.  He would more than likely forward any praise onto his fellow volunteers and speak of how much fun he had over the years working those long “Dog Days of Summer” with his peers.

 Thank you Gordie for all of your hard work and dedication and for being a role model to the numerous volunteers you represent.

Play Well!

 

Feature • June 2014

Governor Herbert

Supports Utah Golf

by Kurt Kragthorpe

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The last time the governor of Utah gathered so many prominent members of the golf community at the State Capitol, the occasion was an observance of a Masters victory.

The event involving Gov. Gary R. Herbert on May 5 was not quite like the recognition of Sandy resident Mike Weir’s major triumph in 2003, but it was a great celebration of golf in the state. Herbert signed a declaration of May as Golf Month in Utah. And considering how Weir’s birthday (and the anniversary of Mike Weir Day, 11 years ago) falls in May, it all fits together.

Herbert’s endorsement of golf and his involvement in a Utah Golf Day tournament at Bonneville Golf Course that afternoon served as a launching point for the Golf Alliance for Utah. As detailed in a previous issue of Fairways, the newly created GAU is designed as a voice for golf in the state. And that voice was heard at the Capitol during a presentation by the GAU’s leadership that preceded the governor’s remarks.

Hebert responded favorably with his own personal touches in a speech, followed by his signing of the declaration that cited golf’s many benefits to Utah. He highlighted several of the findings of the Stanford Research Institute study, including golf’s $805 million economic impact in the state.

Such numbers get Herbert’s attention, considering how economic development is the biggest focus of his administration. The game’s impact already registered with him personally.

Herbert’s love of golf is such that his wife, Jeanette, “calls it an addiction,” he said.

The governor described the game as “kind of a magical thing” when it all comes together, although he was too modest to mention having made a hole-in-one (Ron Jibson, president of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, made sure that achievement was noted).

Herbert evoked laughter when he spoke of nothing being comparable to playing golf on a summer’s evening in Utah, unless it was playing on a fall afternoon, or a spring morning or even sneaking in a round in the winter.

T.A. Barker, president of the Intermountain Golf Course Superintendents Association, had made an emotional speech about his life as a third-generation superintendent and his desire to share a love of the game and the environment with his own family and other children. Herbert paid tribute to Barker’s impassioned remarks, while also joking that golf sometimes “brings tears to my eyes” when he’s adding up his score after a round.

Herbert mentioned how Jack Nicklaus spoke highly of Utah’s golf courses, having designed some of the state’s best-known facilities, when Nicklaus honored Billy Casper and Johnny Miller during the recent Governor’s State of Sport Awards. The governor is also proud that Utah golf events generated more than $11 million in charitable contributions in 2012 and contributes to the quality of life in the state.

He described golf as “one of the best-kept secrets in Utah.” Actually, he’d like to get the word out about the game’s impact and opportunities in the state, and that’s also the mission of the GAU.

Jeff Beaudry is a former executive director of the Utah Section PGA. He’s now the PGA’s western director of employment services, so he has a stake in the perception of golf’s importance. As an industry, Beaudry said, “We obviously have done a poor job of telling our story.”

The impact study will definitely help in that regard, having produced some remarkable, persuasive numbers.

David Terry, the GAU chairman and the director of Salt Lake City’s golf program, spoke of once estimating golf’s economic impact in St. George, where he was working at the time, and being very conservative. The study’s findings “really blew us away,” he said.

Bill Walker, the UGA’s executive director, highlighted the history of the State Amateur and mentioned that having such a high percentage of public courses is unique to Utah.

Colby Cowan, the Utah Section PGA’s president, noted that Golf Month in Utah coincides with a national promotion, and cited the GAU’s “major goal to see golf grow in Utah.”

The governor then did his part to boost that initiative, both with his ceremonial pen and his clubs.

 

Feature • June 2014

Billy Casper Golf Academy

by Dick Harmon

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The Billy Casper Golf Academy in St. George is a repository of technology and common sense knowledge.

Hall of Fame legend Billy Casper established the academy at the Ledges Golf Course near Snow Canyon just a few minutes outside of St. George.  It’s the melding of a treasure trove of Casper’s touch, a personal approach to sharpening fundamentals of the game and ways to improve confidence.

I experienced a half day session at the academy, located right on the Ledges course, just a half sand wedge from the clubhouse.  It was informative, enjoyable and I was given as much as I wanted to digest at the hands of experts who know the game.

Although in his 80s, Casper has not lost the personal touch, the link with people that has made him one of the game’s most beloved icons.  His demonstrations have stretched from Viet Nam to Morocco and thousands have benefited from his wisdom and charm.

This academy that carries his name operates in that same spirit.  There’s an individual touch, no time is wasted in getting to the nitty gritty of the golf swing, and everything is explained in a way that makes sense.

From there, it’s up to the operator to take the fix to the golf course, but while in the golf studio, there is nothing left to be misunderstood or confusing.

In addition to half-day sessions, the academy offers full-day instruction that includes lunch and playing nine holes with an instructor, or a multi-day camp for corporate groups or retreats.   For larger groups, Casper can be scheduled for appearances and demonstrations.  For individual instruction, his son Byron Casper and former Utah Open champion Nick McKinlay are available.  Copies of Casper’s prized autobiography, “The Big Three and Me,” are given to participants as part of the package.

The facility is top drawer, a building with huge bay doors where you can fire shots and have the camera and computer break down every aspect of your swing.

Like the famed Nike Golf incubator in Fort Worth, Texas where Tiger Woods stops for tune-ups, the bay doors of the academy face the open driving range, so shots are full on and everything that can be measured comes into scrutiny.  I’ve been to the “Oven,” and talked to golf club engineers.  This site includes some of that technology.

The equipment includes Doppler radar tracking capability to break down ball speed, club speed, spin, carry, total distance, launch angle, and multiple shot recording capability to prove a shot pattern.  It’s perfect for fitting clubs individually, or zeroing all your clubs in for distance.

The camera bay is hooked up to special lighting and multiple angle cameras that provide a view from behind and a side view of your swing as if face-to-face.  There is also a weight shift pressure stance area that digitally measures weight shift and displays it.

In my experience, the half-day instructor was McKinlay, a native of St. George who trained under Claude Harmon.

McKinlay’s instructional approach was a welcome opportunity to take a look at my swing.  First, he needed to know if I was a visual learner (cameras, or to be showed), or a tactile learner (hands-on mechanical feel).  I’ve always learned by looking and observing, so he immediately went that route and started with me hitting a dozen seven-irons through the mouth of the bay door.

McKinlay quickly picked up on things I could improve on.  Unbeknown to me, I was lifting my leading left heel off the ground and he proved it by video.  I also had a closed stance and a weak grip.

“There is always a cause and effect to a golf swing,” said McKinlay.

McKinlay explained why tweaking a few of these fundamentals would result in fewer misses or stray shots, and how ultimately that would lower my score.  He worked with me on making those adjustments, explaining all the time why each one fixed a simple element of my mis-hits.   Now, incorporating all that was my job.  A word of advice, take one at a time and do it at the range so your brain can imprint it in muscle memory.  Improvements take practice.

Other worthwhile things he broke down for me specifically included a lesson on putting, how to get fore-spin and more accurate rolls towards the cup,  instruction on chipping and the fundamentals of cutting strokes when around the green by getting up and down, and elements of the knock-down shot to protect against windy days.

Another important element of the academy, which I didn’t have time for, is actually playing nine holes with the instructor.  The idea there, and it’s a great one, is course management can save strokes.   This includes why you’d choose to tee it up on one side of the tee box or the other, what club to hit to get maximum accuracy according to the lie and conditions, when to go for it and when to play conservative, and how to avoid shortsiding yourself with a miss.

“You get to a point where decisions are very important and a lot of golfers simply make the wrong decision at the wrong time,” said McKinlay.

A golf swing is personal. Everybody’s body is different.  But what I learned that day is bad habits lead to more missed shots.

“Golf is like an alcoholic,” said McKinlay. “You tend to revert back to bad habits.  It all comes down to fixing things, to keep an eye on things, to keep a maintenance schedule with your swing.   That’s what the pros do.”

In the intermountain area, we are blessed to have had the Billy Casper influence.  Over time he’s made the difference in thousands of lives in Utah where he resides a good chunk of the year.  Perhaps one of the best putters that ever played the game, Casper’s been known to show off his stroke at the Ledges’ putting green.

“He still bombs them in from all over,” said McKinlay.

One would expect nothing less from Buffalo Bill.

 

Feature • March 2014

Moody Gets Defensive

by V. Scott Whittaker

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The Utah Section PGA Match Play Championship started with the roar of a jet engine in late May at Hill Air Force Base. The morning play featured 18 teams of amateur players provided by presenting sponsor VLCM. They were playing for special event pro-am team honors. A total of 34 Utah Section professionals joined them to play for seeding/qualifying spots in the Match Play Championship bracket which started later that same day.

First round matches provided plenty of exciting competition. The last match of the day featured defending champion Chris Moody of Riverside Country Club and former Match Play champion Troy Watkins of Riverbend Golf Course. The match went 22-holes before Moody made his way onto the second round. Moody, last season’s Player of the Year, made a clutch birdie on the 18th hole to send the match into the four holes of sudden-death play, which he was then able to win.

The Watkins-Moody match was an example of the great depth of ability that Utah Section PGA professionals have. Watkins, who qualified in the 32nd spot, gave the defending champ Moody all he could handle. Except for Moody’s timely birdie at the last, the 2011 Match Play Champion Troy Watkins could have been the one moving on towards the eventual championship match.

The Hubbard Golf Course at Hill Air Force Base again proved itself as a “hidden gem” among Utah golf. This is the fourth consecutive year that they have hosted the Utah Section PGA Match Play event. The course provided superb conditions for the event. Their greens are certainly some of the best if not the best in the state. The combination of great course conditions, great course staff and the support of VLCM for the third straight year makes the Match Play Championship a great event.

 

Match Play

The Round of 16 and the quarter final matches were held the following day and for the second time in three matches defending champion Chris Moody was taken to extra holes and survived. Moody’s first match of the day was against fellow Riverside Country Club Pro Matt Baird. Moody would be able to claim bragging rights at their home club by defeating Baird 3 and 1.

In Moody’s Quarterfinal match, Milo Lines put up a fight and did not go down easy as he took Moody to an extra hole before being defeated. Moody would face Derek Fox the following morning in the semi-finals after Fox and defeated Todd Meyer, Shawn Edwards and Ryan Kartchner to reach the semis.

Casey Fowles shot an impressive opening round of 65 to land the second seed of the championship. The new head golf professional at Palisade State Park Golf Course defeated Mike Manning 5 and 4 in his opening match and then slid by Gladstan professional Tracy Zoebell 1 up to reach the Quarterfinal match. Fowles continued his stellar play beating Kellen Esquibel 5 and 4 to then face Tommy Sharp in the Semis. Sharp made his way to the final four by surviving 22 holes with Dustin Volk in Round 2 and just edging out Mark Owen winning 1 up in Round 3. Fowles and Sharp went 17 holes before their match was decided 1 up with Fowles moving on to the afternoon Championship match.

“Just looking at my side of the bracket, I was like, wow, it’s almost like a penalty to be the number one seed,” said Moody.

 

Championship Match

Both Moody and Fowles fought through several great players to get to the Championship Match.

“Getting Troy, a former champion, in the first match, my nerves were on edge that entire match,” said Moody. “Then playing Matt, who I work with, it was like bragging rights for the year were on the line. But, I felt better about my game that day and was able to move on. Then Milo (Lines) hits it an absolute mile. I think on all the par fives he only had about 100 to 150-yards in. He started off eagle, birdie, par, par, eagle – that put me three down through five but I figured there was no reason I can’t make up three holes in the next 13 and I did.”

In the semifinal match against Fox, Moody said, “I was just able to scratch something out a little bit better than he did. It wasn’t thrilling but I moved on.”

Moody got off to a fast start on the opening holes of the championship match with Fowles going 3 up after the first nine.

“My slow start kind of got me this morning,” explained Fowles. “You can’t really give a player like Chris that kind of head start.”

Fowles did make a move early on the back nine getting two holes back leaving Moody with just a 1 up lead. “I did come back on him and I’m proud of that. I had a few putts that had chances there at the end but they just didn’t drop for me.”

Moody successfully defended his Match Play Championship title when he birdied the 16th hole to seal that victory at 3 and 2. His back-to-back victories mark the first time in a decade anyone has won this event in consecutive years. Current Utah Section PGA Vice President, Chris Stover was the last player to accomplish this feat in 2003 and 2004.

Moody said, “I knew Casey was probably playing the best out of anyone. He shot 65 in the qualifier; we had a good match. It feels really good to win this again knowing who I had to get through.”

 

Feature • June 2014

A Look Ahead to the Utah State Amateur

by Mike Sorensen

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The Utah Men’s State Amateur Championship, which prides itself as being the longest continuous golf tournament in the world, has made several significant changes in recent years.

Last year’s change was momentous as the tournament added an extra day to the schedule with an expansion of match play to 64 players and a Saturday finish instead of the traditional Sunday conclusion.

This year will see another big change as for the first time, the State Am tournament will be played at two different golf venues for the two qualifying rounds.

The Ogden Golf and Country Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, will still serve as the primary site for the tournament, including all of the match play rounds. However, Valley View Golf Course, which hosted the 2009 State Am and is about a 15-minute drive down U.S. 89, will co-host the qualifying rounds on Monday and Tuesday.

So with two courses in use for the qualifying rounds, the tournament will be able to host a larger field of 288 players as it did a year ago at Soldier Hollow’s Gold and Silver courses with 64 again advancing to match play.

“Having the championship qualifier expanded to a second course will allow for more golfers to compete in Utah’s premier amateur championship,’’ said Bill Walker, executive director of the Utah Golf Association. “We had a great response from the players last year. They enjoy the larger field.’’

Walker points out that using a second course for qualifying is not an unusual idea as the USGA conducts its U.S. Amateur Championship and Mid-Amateur Championship using two separate facilities. He also said the 288-golfer field and 64-player match play bracket will be a permanent feature of the State Amateur going forward.

“Going to 64 was definitely a success,’’ Walker said. “You had 32 matches and seven upsets so we felt we had a quality of depth of field. We had a lot of good feedback about it and didn’t hear too many negatives.’’

Some folks wondered how it would work if the UGA went back to its 156-golfer field and kept the 64-player bracket, which would mean nearly half of the field would qualify for match play. However the UGA decided it would be best to keep the larger field to go along with the expanded bracket.

“We wanted to make it uniform,’’ Walker said. “We thought it would be a great improvement so that players knew each year that the starting field would be 288 and the match play field 64.’’

Walker said the UGA will also be using electronic scoring so that golfers at each venue will know what is going on at the other course during the first two rounds. Volunteers on each course will report each golfer’s score every three holes much like the process that has been used at the Utah Open for several years.

So how will the inevitable playoff following the medal round be handled with two separate venues?

Walker said the tee times at Valley View will start a half hour to 45 minutes earlier than Ogden and golfers can check monitors when they finish to see if they should make the 15-minute drive up to Ogden for a possible playoff.

Another addition to the 2014 State Am is the “Last Chance Qualifier,” which will be held the week before the tournament. This tournament is for players who might have missed the deadline to play in the tournament or failed to get through other qualifiers. It will be held at Wolf Creek on July 1.

“I wish I could say we came up with the idea, but we’ve heard from a lot of other associations, such as Texas, that have had a lot of success with it,’’ Walker said.

Walker said registration for the qualifier at Wolf Creek will open on June 28 after the last of the 10 regular qualifiers has concluded. He also said a smaller percentage, more like 10 percent of the “Last Chance” field instead of 20 percent for the other qualifiers, will have the chance to qualify.

“It’s just another opportunity, we think, to add a little benefit to our tournament players,’’ Walker said.

Having such a large field may seem unusual for a smaller state like Utah, but Walker said the demand is there and the State Am is supported well by the state’s amateur golfers.

“It’s somewhat unusual, because in talking to peers in the industry, some only have 200 signing up for the whole thing,’’ he said. “It’s really a testament to how good the amateur player is here in Utah and how good the amateur golf scene is here. We get 750 to 800 players who try to qualify every year. We’re meeting the demand now. The qualifying score is getting lower and lower every year.’’

Besides the Men’s State Amateur, the Women’s State Amateur will also be played at Ogden Country Club the week of August 6-9. Walker said the Ogden members are happy to be able to host the premier men’s and women’s amateur tournaments to celebrate their 100th anniversary.

“They’re just really fired up and their membership is ecstatic about having our event and having it coincide with their 100th year,’’ Walker said. “It’s a big deal for them and a big deal for us.’’

 

Feature • June 2014

Siddens Repeats at Senior Match Play

by Mike Sorensen

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Kirk Siddens is the first to admit he’s not the type of golfer who goes on birdie binges and he calls himself “conservative” in his play. He also doesn’t consider himself a great match play golfer.

 So how do you explain Siddens’ excellent play in match play tournaments?

Ever since he burst on the Utah golf scene in 1999 to finish second at the Men’s State Amateur at Hill Air Force Base, Siddens has been a top golfer on the local amateur circuit, particularly in match play events.

In mid-May Siddens captured his second consecutive Utah Golf Association Senior Match Play Championship at TalonsCove Golf Course, outlasting a field of 64 and defeating Patrick Murphy 2 and 1 in the finals.

When asked about his penchant for playing well in match play, Siddens just shrugged.

“It depends on the course,’’ he said. “If par is good, my game suits it well because I make a lot of pars. If it’s a birdie fest, it’s not always my strong suit. I’m a little more conservative by nature.’’

It turned out TalonsCove suited his game well as he won medalist honors before going on to win four matches, including the championship match victory over Murphy.

“It’s always nice to win.’’ said Siddens, who had the low score of 71 in the medal round and won four straight matches to claim the title. “It’s just a long grind,’’

The 51-year-old from Fruit Heights birdied the first two holes and never trailed against Provo’s Murphy, who had lost in the 2012 finals to Bill Probst.

Siddens started off with a birdie and won the second hole with a par to take a quick 2 up lead and made the turn 3 up, after Murphy hit it out of bounds at par-5, No. 9. Siddens dropped back with a bogey at 11, but won 13 and closed out the match with a 6-foot par putt at No. 17.

“We didn’t set anything on fire, but we battled,’’ said Siddens.

Siddens said he hasn’t played as much golf this year because he has been expanding his carpet cleaning business to include expensive oriental rugs. He said he isn’t playing in men’s leagues or senior events and the Match Play was just his fourth tournament of the year.

He said it showed in his driving, which he called “horrible.’’ So he left the driver in his bag most of the week and relied on his 17-degree hybrid and 3-wood.

“My hybrid probably saved me,’’ he said.

Siddens dominated from Day One, when he earned the No. 1 seed by shooting a 1-under-par 71. He did have his scares along the way, particularly his third-round match against Rob Bachman when he came back from a 3-hole deficit to win on the third extra hole.

He began with a 4 and 3 victory over Kent Gressman and then beat his good buddy Kurt Jamison 2 and 1 in the second round.

Against Bachman, it wasn’t looking good for Siddens as he trailed by three holes with just four to play. He birdied 15 to cut the lead to two and then Bachman, who hadn’t bogeyed all day, bogeyed the final two holes to send the match to extra holes.

After pars on the first two holes, Siddens won the match on the third extra hole by chipping in from 25-feet for birdie.

In his semi-final match against former BYU golfer Craig Wilson, Siddens “played solid’’ and closed out the match with a 17-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole.

The 56-year-old Murphy calls himself a late bloomer when it comes to golf, having played just half of his life. He grew up in northern California, which is famous for its golf, but didn’t seriously take up the game until moving to Utah 21 years ago.

He has worked in the mortgage loan business, but recently changed careers and is working in marketing and sales for a new company in Utah County.

Murphy apparently used all of his birdies up earlier in the week as he didn’t make a single birdie in his final match against Siddens.

In his first match against Keith Olsen, Murphy found himself two down when he made an eagle-2 at the short par-4 16th hole. He tied the match when Olsen bogeyed No. 18 and Murphy won on the first extra hole.

In a second-round grudge match with Brett Sampson, Murphy ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch between holes 8 and 13 and finished with an easy 6 and 5 victory. Then in the quarterfinals, he sneaked away with a 1 up win over former Utah State Amateur champ Todd Barker.

In the semi-finals he faced his friend Dana Nelson and fell behind 3 holes at the turn, only to turn it around on the back side and win four holes on his way to a 1 up victory.

Dave Fischer, a 67-year-old pastor at the Lutheran Redeemer Church in Salt Lake, won the Super Senior Division for golfers 65 and older, defeating 80-year-old Dick Peacock of St. George, 2 and 1.

Fischer was three holes down after six holes, but caught up at No. 14, then closed out the match by winning holes 16 and 17.

Peacock, who estimates he has shot his age or better about 300 times, lamented that he left his driving game home and his strong short game wasn’t enough to knock off Fischer.

In the Net Division, Jason Tanner, who plays out of Glendale GC in Salt Lake, defeated Steve Kirk 3 and 1. Tanner was 1 up with three holes to play and won the 16th and 17th holes to close out the match.

 

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