Volume 24 • Issue 4 • November 2015

Better Than Ever

by Kurt Kragthorpe

The Winner is...

Official Monthly Digital Magazine

of the Utah Golf Association

October 2015 Issue

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Lashley Wins Again at Utah Open

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Patton Kizzire and Thanksgiving Point

Chugg Repeats at Mary Lou Baker Open

Utah Rolls on at Shootout

by Dick Harmon

Product Review

TaylorMade M1 Driver, Mizuno MP-25 Irons, Mizuno JPX EZ Forged, Tour Edge Exotics EXd Irons, Sun Mountain 2Five Stand/Carry Bags, Nike Method Converge Putter

by Mike Stansfield

by Jay Drew

by Joe Watts

View the November 2015 Issue Below

Better Than Ever

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Cover Feature • November 2015

Kelsey Chugg is two years removed from her Weber State golf career and spends most of her time worrying about other UGA members, but her own game is better than ever.

Chugg earned her third Women’s State Amateur title in four years, dominating two BYU golfers on the final day of competition Aug. 6 at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy. She defeated Brooklyn Hocker 5 and 4 in the final match after beating Lea Garner 6 and 5 in the semifinals. Hocker had outlasted defending champion Sirene Blair in 20 holes to advance, but wore down on the back nine in the afternoon.

Chugg attacked Hidden Valley with her driver, while Hocker played more conservatively on the tricky driving holes and found herself 50 or more yards behind on some of the par-4s. “This course demands a lot off the tee, so I wanted to make sure I had a good tee ball all week and just make a lot of putts,” said Chugg, who works as the UGA’s membership director. “That was the game plan.”

The winner’s driving ability was “a huge advantage, and she’s also so consistent,” said Hocker, a BYU junior from Idaho Falls, Idaho. “She doesn’t make many mistakes. I can see why she’s a three-time champion.”

Chugg won the first two holes of the final match, but was only 1 up through eight holes. Her big move started when she reached the par-5 No. 9 in two shots to set up an easy birdie, and she proceeded to win the next three holes as well, topped by a chip-in birdie at No. 12.

In the semifinals, Chugg’s domination of Garner, the medalist in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, was as surprising as Hocker’s upset of Blair, a San Diego State junior from South Jordan and the recent winner of the Utah Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Fox Hollow. “It was intense,” Hocker said. “I just tried to focus on what I needed to do and not get too fired up and just let it come.”

But she couldn’t stay with Chugg in the afternoon. Lachell Poffenberger, whose third victory came in 1998, was the State Am’s most recent three-time winner. In 2013, when she beat Blair in the finals, Chugg had become the latest in a long series of two-time champions. That list included Sue (Billek) Nyhus in 1985 and ‘99, Stephanie Brockbank-Belnap in 1994-95, Annie (Thurman) Young in 2002-03, Rachel Newren in 2005-06, Daphne Vines in 2007-08 and Natalie Stone in 2009-10. Most of those victories came in stroke play, prior to the recent move to match play.

In what might be considered the modern era, Chugg now is chasing Terry Norman Hansen, who won four titles in five years in the 1980s.

Chugg still has some professional golf ambitions, but “I’m enjoying my job,” she said, “so I might just stick with it.”

The UGA Board of Directors has been populated by some outstanding golfers over the year, but having a full-time staff member who’s capable of playing at Chugg’s level is a new phenomenon.

Like any post-college, amateur golfer, Chugg must balance her job and her game. “Luckily, I love (golf), I’m passionate about it,” she said. “And I enjoy my job, so I’m not too tired after work. I like to go out and practice at night. No big deal.”

Winning three State Am titles, however, is a big deal. So is leading the UGA Women’s Player Performance Rating, as Chugg’s victory gave her a 194.0-129.3 advantage over Garner. Chugg’s latest State Am quest began when she earned the No. 3 seed (Blair was the automatic No. 1) by shooting 69-71 in the stroke-play portion, finishing four shots behind Garner.

In the 16-woman match play bracket, Chugg opened with a 6-and-5 victory over Katie Perkins. She then topped Provo High School’s Naomi Soifua 2 and 1 in a rematch of the 2012 final. This match was all square through 13 holes, before Chugg birdied the par-5 No. 14 and won the par-4 No. 16 with a par.

In the semifinals, Chugg lost the first hole with a bogey, then performed wonderfully over the remaining 12 holes. She won seven of those holes, including six in a seven-hole stretch. Garner did not play her best golf, but she would have had trouble matching Chugg regardless. Chugg won four holes with birdies.

In the upper bracket, Hocker was the No. 12 seed after shooting 78-72. Her first three matches went at least 15 holes. She beat BYU teammate Alex White 2 and 1, topped 2014 runner-up Allison Cluff 4 and 3 and then battled Blair in a match that neither player led by more than 1 up at any point. Of the 20 holes, 15 were halved, ncluding Nos. 13-19. Hocker finally ended things with a 5-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole (the par-3 No. 2).


The Winner Is...

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Cover Feature • November 2015

Kelsey Chugg

Historically, the UGA’s volunteer board of directors has included some outstanding golfers, but when it comes to full-time staff members, there’s no doubt that Kelsey Chugg is in her own league.

The UGA’s director of membership won the Women’s State Amateur for the third time in four years, becoming the tournament’s first three-time winner since Lachell Poffenberger in 1998. Chugg dominated the event at Hidden Valley Country Club, topping her latest achievement with two wins in one day over two of BYU’s best golfers. After beating Lea Garner 6 and 5 in the semifinals, the former Weber State golfer beat Brooklyn Hocker 5 and 4 in the 18-hole final.

Chugg’s long, accurate driving gave her a big advantage, and she remained steady. “She doesn’t make many mistakes. I can see why she’s a three-time champion,” Hocker said.

Chugg attributed her continuing improvement to her job, but not for the reasons the average person might guess. It is not as if she spends all day working on her game, but she says the fact she enjoys her job so much leaves her enough energy to practice in the evenings.

Obviously, it is working. Chugg teamed with Marie Bambo to win the Women’s Spring Open team competition, besides claiming the individual portion. She shot 67-68 at Spanish Oaks Golf Course to win the Mary Lou Baker Open by two strokes over Hocker and Sadie Palmer, placed second to Sirene Blair in the Women’s Stroke Play Championship and was the overall star of the winning team in the Arizona-Utah Shootout.

Jordan Rodgers

Jordan Rodgers wanted more in his first year as a professional golfer, but when he looks back on the 2015 season, he remembers that he fulfilled his original ambition.

“Winning the State Amateur was my goal the entire year,” he said.

Rodgers completed his amateur career with a dominating performance in the State Am at Soldier Hollow Golf Course. The former Skyline High School and BYU golfer also finished second in the UGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Valley View Golf Course, losing in a playoff with Ryan Brimley.

In the State Am, Rodgers shot 69-66 to share medalist honors and earn the No. 2 seed, then routed his four opponents before edging Seokwon Jeon 1 up in the semifinals and defeating Darrin Overson 3 and 1 in the 36-hole final match.

After turning pro, Rodgers nearly became the first golfer in 81 years to win both the State Am and the Utah Open in the same season. But he lost a final-round duel with Arizona pro Nathan Lashley, finishing second at Riverside Country Club, BYU’s home course. “I really wanted to make history, so that one burns a little,” Rodgers said, a couple of months later.

Rodgers was eliminated from the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament in the first stage in Nevada, after advancing through the pre-qualifying portion. So, like a lot of aspiring pros, he will have to piece together a playing schedule as he tries to make a living in golf.

Craig Wilson

Having emerged as a promising golfer in his teens, only to quit the game during college, Craig Wilson is enjoying a renaissance in his 50s. Competing “with joy and confidence again has been truly meaningful,” said Wilson, who lives in Holladay and is involved in business teaching, investment management and philanthropy.

Wilson became the first golfer to sweep the UGA Senior Match Play Championship and the Senior Amateur, with memorable performances at Davis Park Golf Course and East Bay GC. His caddies added to the experience. His instructor, Ron Cohn, was on the bag in the Match Play and his 13-year-son, Danny, caddied in the final round of the Senior Am.

As the No. 23 seed in the Match Play, Wilson beat Rick Lloyd, Craig Gardner, Bill Probst and Dana Nelson before edging Brett Sampson 1 up with a winning par on the 19th hole in the finals.

The Senior Am was quite a competition as well. Wilson shot 65-64-70, making 18 birdies and two eagles in three rounds. He needed that level of performance just to beat Sampson (69-66-65) by one stroke, with Jeff Powars another shot back.

The journey of 2015 led Wilson to reflect on golf as “truly a magical and brilliant game on many levels,” and he especially appreciates the relationships with his fellow golfers at this stage of his life.

Sadie Palmer

While she was disappointed with some aspects of her 2015 season, Sadie Palmer certainly started and finished well.

Victories in the UGA Winterchamps and the Tournament of Champions, plus a good performance for the winning team in the Arizona-Utah Shootout, were the highlights of a year when the Tooele product tried unsuccessfully to make the LPGA Tour. She retained her amateur status through the qualifying process and will keep working at the Impact Golf Center and helping coach the Westminster College women’s golf team.

Palmer tied for second place overall in the Winterchamps, two points behind Darrin Overson (although the women played SunRiver instead of Bloomington Country Club in one round). In the women’s division, she edged Kelsey Chugg 90-84 in a great duel. “I’m sure if you looked at our scorecards that day, we birdied nearly every hole,” Palmer said.

That’s only a slight exaggeration, as one of the two made a birdie on 10 holes.

In the Tournament of Champions at Thanksgiving Point, Palmer responded well to having taken a week off. “I came out swinging more freely than I did all year,” she said. “After a less successful year than I had hoped for, it meant a lot to come out and win.”

Palmer shot 72-72 to claim the women’s title by 12 strokes, while finishing in a four-way tie for second place overall. She also tied for second in the women’s Mary Lou Baker Open and tied for third in the UGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship.

Ryan Brimley

Many stories about Tony Finau mention how he may have been talented enough to play college basketball. Ryan Brimley actually did so.

Among players who have consistently succeeded at the highest level of Utah amateur golf, Brimley is the most accomplished athlete in another sport in recent history. The former Southern Utah University basketball player has become an elite golfer, after starring in both sports at Hillcrest High School.

Brimley won the UGA Mid-Amateur Championship in a playoff with Jordan Rodgers, who went on to win the State Amateur. Playing together in the final round, Brimley and Rodgers staged one of the most memorable finishes in any UGA event, and that was prior to the playoff at Valley View Golf Course.

Rodgers nearly holed a 114-yard wedge shot, with the ball ending up 6 inches behind the hole and giving him a tying birdie. “I actually thought he made it,” Brimley said. “That was awesome to watch.”

Brimley’s 40-foot birdie attempt for the win skimmed the hole, but he delivered a 6-footer on No. 1 for a winning birdie, earning a victory that helped him make the host team for the Arizona-Utah Shootout.

A financial broker who lives in Herriman, Brimley has produced some spectacular performances in both sports. He made three eagles in the first round of the UGA Mid-Am. Brimley once scored 40 points for Hillcrest vs. Bingham and shot a course-record 61 in the Glendale Amateur.

On a national level, Brimley played in the USGA Mid-Am for the second year in a row, qualifying for match play at Vero Beach, Florida.

Sirene Blair

In October, Sirene Blair broke San Diego State’s school record for low scoring in a 54-hole tournament. That’s the kind of ability she often has displayed in UGA events, including the 2015 Women’s Stroke Play Championship.

Having once met in a Women’s State Amateur final match, Blair and Kelsey Chugg staged a great battle in the final round at Fox Hollow Golf Club. Playing in the second-to-last threesome, each shot a 7-under-par 65. Blair’s 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 18 gave her a one-stroke victory in the 36-hole tournament, after they seemed to inspire one another.

“I was just trying to keep pace with her,” said Blair, almost not realizing she was on her way to such a low score. “I felt like I had to work harder for my birdies.”

Chugg said, “We were both being pretty aggressive. We were hitting great shots all day. Either one of us could have gone a little lower.”

Launching her junior year at SDSU, Blair and the Aztecs enjoyed a great autumn. The team won two tournaments, with Blair’s tie for fourth place leading the way in a Colorado event. And then in the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, the Bingham High School graduate shot 67-70-68 to tie for fifth. Her 11-under-par total was the best in school history, made possible by birdies on her last three holes.

Darrin Overson

Forever remembered in Utah golf as the winner of the 100th State Amateur, Darrin Overson resurfaced in a big way 17 years later at age 40.

The Provo resident won the UGA Winterchamps, played in the State Amateur final and qualified for the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship in 2015, highlighting a very satisfying year.

In the Winterchamps, Overson shot a 32 on the Woodbridge nine of Sunbrook GC, making a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole and topping Justin Keiley 92-90 in the Stableford format. “It got my season off to a great start and gave me some confidence going into the season,” Overson said.

He then battled his way into the State Am finals by winning five matches, and extended Jordan Rodgers to the 35th hole before settling for runner-up honors. Winning another title “would have been fun,” Overson said that day, when he naturally was disappointed, but getting that far in the tournament was a major achievement. It helped him qualify to play for the host team in the Arizona-Utah Shootout.

Overson also played with Jeff Jolley in the USGA Four-Ball Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. “The more I travel and play with guys from other states, the more I realize how good Utah golf really is,” Overson said.

Annette Gaiotti

Much like the Champions Tour, Utah amateur golf features plenty of senior golfers who thrive once they turn 50 and are able to compete with players of their own age or older.

Annette Gaiotti partly fits that description, except she's playing very well in her early 60s. Gaiotti won the UGA Women's Senior Amateur, shooting 73-73 on the Lake and Canyon courses at Mountain Dell. She finished seven strokes ahead of Elizabeth Jones (80-73), with Mary Herman (82-75) another four shots behind.

Gaiotti plays regularly in Utah women's tournaments, competing against collegians and other much younger players. As a friend once said, “She eats, drinks, sleeps, everything golf. It is a total passion. It's all golf. I mean, she loves the game.”

Gaiotti moved from Boston to Utah in 1996, although her family continued to spend the summers on Cape Cod for several years. She's known for having made two holes-in-one in a round at Hidden Valley Country Club.

Marie Bambo

Playing out of Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club, Marie Bambo has a short season on her home course. She was ready for the UGA Women's Spring Open, though, capitalizing on an opportunity that was “fun to put the skis away and return to golf,” she said.

A physical therapist who lives in Salt Lake City, Bambo teamed with Kelsey Chugg for a convincing victory in the team event at Sky Mountain Golf Course and Bloomington Country Club. They posted 149 points to 139 for Annette Gaiotti/Karen Killpack, after compiling 82 points in the opening round.

Bambo credited her partner, saying, “I truly enjoyed watching Kelsey's drives sail past mine. Her game is poetry in motion.”

Bambo added further highlights to her own story of 2015, winning the Jeremy Ranch club championship and shooting a 69 in a team event.

Brandon Hargett

Just about every golfer hits a shot sometime during the season that creates a memory to get them through the winter.

In Brandon Hargett’s case in 2015, that shot would have to be the 4-iron he hit to within 4 inches of the hole on the par-3 No. 16 at Valley View Golf Course with the hole cut just behind a bunker, giving him a birdie and an eventual one-stroke win in the Masters division of the UGA Mid-Amateur.

Hargett, of Springville, shot 70-74-71 for a total of 1-under-par 215, edging Darrin Overson, with Hargett’s brother Jason another two strokes back.

The win became especially meaningful to Hargett when he took advantage of his opportunity to play in the UGA Tournament of Champions. Hargett also was proud to win the Hobble Creek Invitational with partner Kai Ruiz and to join in TalonsCove’s winning effort in the UGA 8-Man Team competition for the third year in a row.

Rhett Rasmussen

In a survey to assist with profiles of the 2015 UGA winners, each champion was asked to list an occupation. Rhett Rasmussen cited “golfing.”

The response may create the impression that he’s more one-dimensional that his life actually reflects, but there’s no question that he does “golfing” well. A senior at Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Rasmussen won the UGA Tournament of Champions at Thanksgiving Point. He made nine birdies and an eagle over two rounds, shooting 67-71 for a total of 6-under-par 138 and a six-stroke victory over four players, including two senior golfers and a woman.

That performance added to an outstanding year for Rasmussen, who was thrilled to win the Salt Lake City Open, the last major tournament held at Wingpointe Golf Course, in a playoff. He also was happy to be crowned low amateur in the Provo Open and earn medalist honors in the Class 4A state tournament after having that goal since his freshman year.

Rasmussen will play collegiately for BYU.

Jeff Powars

Before moving to Utah from southern California in 1990, Jeff Powars thought his days of golf competition were over. Now that he's in his 50s, it turns out he was just getting started.

Powars won the amateur division of the Allen Simkins Utah Senior Open at Toana Vista Golf Course – “a tough course against quality competition,” he said. His performance “made me feel like I could compete with the best and maintain composure and focus.”

Powars, of Washington Terrace, shot 72-72 for an even-par 144 total, finishing three strokes ahead of Scott Fairbanks (78-69) and Mike Jorgensen (72-75). His adventurous final round included an eagle, three birdies and five bogeys.

Other 2015 highlights for Powars included the club championship of Schneiter's Riverside and a second-round 63 in the UGA Senior Amateur at East Bay Golf Course, where he finished third, two strokes behind the winner, Craig Wilson.

Patrick Murphy

Brett Sampson

Patrick Murphy’s golf season started with a tie and was highlighted by two tournaments that ended with losses. But he’ll always remember 2015. That’s because sharing the senior division title of the UGA Winterchamps with Brett Sampson justifiably is considered a victory, and he produced major breakthroughs in those other events.

“Winterchamps was an event I’ve targeted for over 20 years,” said Murphy, of Provo. “I’ve come close but never closed the deal. It was very satisfying to play against the top and come out on top.”

Murphy and Sampson each finished with 88 points in the Stableford format. Murphy went on to qualify for match play in the State Amateur for the first time in roughly 25 years and then delivered one of the strongest performances at a national level in recent Utah history when he reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur in New Jersey. “Two of my most memorable events did not result in wins, but were experiences I’ll never forget,” he said.

Sampson had a remarkable year of coming close, finishing second in the UGA Senior Match Play Championship, the Senior Amateur and the Four-Ball Championship (with Kirk Siddens).

Kendra Dalton

Lea Garner

No team in the UGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship could be as tightly bonded as the mother-daughter pairing of Sue and Kimberly Nyhus, but the winners came close. BYU teammates Lea Garner and Kendra Dalton enjoyed the rare opportunity to play together in a team event.

That may sound strange, but in collegiate events, golfers are paired with players with other schools and just add up their scores to contribute to the team total. This truly was a shared experience. Garner, from Bonneville High School, and Dalton, from North Carolina, teamed well in shooting 65-65 at Glendale and Rose Park to claim a four-stroke victory over Nyhus and Nyhus, who coach and play for Utah Valley University.

The BYU golfers have followed up their strong summer play with an outstanding fall. Dalton has posted two second-place finishes and a tie for eighth and Garner has performed solidly, helping the Cougars win three of their four tournaments this semester.

“We knew we had great players, and it just all kind of came together this fall,” said BYU coach Carrie Roberts.

Russell Hook

Rob Bachman

Rob Bachman will remember the UGA Four-Ball Championship for the 55-foot sidehill putt that partner Russell Hook made on No. 17 in the final round. Hook was just thrilled that the winning team beat “the best of the best” and how he produced “some of the best golf I have ever played, individually or with a partner.”

Hook, of South Jordan, and Bachman, of Farmington, shot 64-67 at Victory Ranch, taking a three-stroke victory over defending champions Kirk Siddens and Brett Sampson (66-68). The event, reinstated in 2014, is not designed as a senior tournament, although the field trends that way. Yet the third-place team of Kurt Owen and Kirk Nielson could not keep up with the senior entrants, despite a closing 64.

For Bachman, “It felt extremely satisfying to play well on a difficult venue.” Hook’s memorable putt actually came on the team’s eighth of the day, but it was a big momentum-booster.

Hook works for Orbital ATK as a non-destructive testing manager. So maybe it was fitting that one of his greatest golf moments came on such undisturbed, pristine property as Victory Ranch.

Mike Jorgensen

As a lifelong amateur golfer and former UGA board member, Richfield’s Mike Jorgensen loves the game in general and Utah golf in particular. As he said, “Any UGA tournament is like one of our majors.”

That includes the Tournament of Champions. In the 2015 event at Thanksgiving Point, Jorgensen shot 75-69 to tie for second place overall and win the senior division. He converted a 20-foot birdie with what he modestly labeled “a semi-lucky” putt to beat Kirk Siddens in a playoff for the senior title.

Jorgensen’s opening round featured 17 pars and a triple bogey on the par-3 No. 17. He came out the next morning and birdied the first three holes, then birdied No. 18 (as did Siddens) to get into the playoff.

Jorgensen enjoyed a breakthrough season as a senior golfer, making a return to the Governor’s Cup and helping the UGA team beat the Utah Section PGA pros at Hill Air Force Base.

Lashley Wins Again at Utah Open

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Cover Feature • November 2015

Maybe the good vibes of all those fans cheering for Utahns to win the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open were used up the previous two years, when Zach Johnson of Farmington and B.J. Staten of Cottonwood Heights rallied to beat a pair of Arizona pros, including 2015 champion Nathan Lashley.

That’s the only logical explanation for what unfolded Aug. 23 over the last four holes of the tournament at Riverside Country Club. Trailing by two strokes, Lashley birdied three holes in a row, then nearly sank a birdie chip on No. 18 as he ended up beating Salt Lake City native Jordan Rodgers by two shots to earn the $21,000 first prize.

Rodgers collected $15,000 in a nice boost to his pro career, but he was disappointed to miss a chance to win, and he would have been a very popular champion. The former BYU golfer was playing the Cougars’ home course in front of friends and relatives and fought hard to extend the streak of Utah-resident winners, but Lashley overtook him with those three birdies, including putts totaling 80 feet on Nos. 16 and 17.

Rodgers had to collect himself near the scoring area before being interviewed afterward, and it was an emotional day in many ways. The traditional awards presentation on the 18th green turned into a closing ceremony. Chris Stover, president of the Utah Section PGA, honored executive director Scott Whittaker and marketing director Scott Bringhurst as they move into retirement.

Another successful Utah Open served as a tribute to Whittaker and Bringhurst, who have been instrumental in the section’s revival of the tournament. Whittaker has led the section staff for 13 years, after a long career as a club professional. Bringhurst became a key component of the tournament after the section took over the operation in 2000 , and the title sponsorship of Ned Siegfried and Mitch Jensen has attracted additional support and enabled the tournament to fill eight pro-am fields during the week.

Devin Dehlin, a longtime club pro, golf administrator and section officer and staff member, will succeed Whittaker. Dehlin felt validated last summer when the winning score was 16 under par at Riverside Country Club, after many observers suggested to him that the scores would be much lower than they were in the seven years of the Utah Open at Oakridge Country Club. Instead, 16 under almost matched the average winning total from the Oakridge era.

But those other people were only off by one year. The scores fell much lower this year, with four players shooting 16 under or lower, including Lashley with a 22-under winning total.

In the process, St. George pro Dusty Fielding’s closing 62 was somewhat overlooked. Fielding shot a 29 on the front nine with an eagle on the par-5 No. 7. Fielding matched the 62 that his friend Jay Don Blake once shot in the 1980 State Amateur at Riverside, even though he bogeyed the par-4 No. 10 and failed to birdie the par-5 No. 15. His birdie on the 18th hole enabled Fielding to tie for sixth place, while he essentially earned $3,000 of his $3,800 check in that round.

BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn, the low amateur, closed with a 64 and tied for sixth place overall. Riverside assistant pro Chris Moody tied for eighth as the low Utah Section PGA member, earning an additional $500 in the Black Clover promotion. Special Olympics Utah, the tournament’s longtime charity, received a $45,000 check in an annual highlight of the tournament.

In the end, Lashley dropped his wedge in a mixture of disgust and disbelief after his chip shot from the rough near the 18th green spun out of the hole, with the ball stopping a foot away.

Lashley’s near-miss and subsequent tap-in for a par concluded a wild back-nine duel with Rodgers, who was trying to become the first golfer since Utah Golf Hall of Fame inductee Ed Kingsley in 81 years to win both the State Amateur and the Utah Open in the same summer. Having lost a playoff with Staten at Riverside last August, the 32-year-old Lashley rallied.

That dramatic sequence came after Rodgers “kind of had it in the bag,” by his account. Lashley shot a back-nine 31 with three lip-outs, offset by those two daggers that ruined Rodgers’ history-making quest. “The back nine was just crazy, birdie after birdie, and I was just hoping to have a chance on the last hole,” Lashley said.

No. 18 actually was anticlimactic, after what happened on the previous three holes. Lashley birdied No. 15 to get within one stroke, then chipped poorly after a big drive on the par-4 No. 16 and faced a 45-foot birdie attempt. Rodgers was much closer, and his father/caddie, Craig, liked his chances of regaining a two-stroke advantage. “He jinxed it,” Rodgers said later, good-naturedly.

That’s because Lashley drilled his fast-moving putt and Rodgers missed, leaving them tied. Pretty much the same story unfolded on the par-3 No. 17, where Lashley made a big-breaking 35-footer and Rodgers missed from just inside of him.

Just like that, Lashley was ahead, and Rodgers ended up three-putting the 18th hole for a bogey after missing a desperate attempt from 45 feet for a tie. So a 20-under total was not good enough for Rodgers, who made some phenomenal shots to start the back nine – including a wedge to within a foot at No. 10, a 6-iron to 3 feet at No. 11 and a 7-iron that he hooked out of the rough and over some trees from 235 yards on the par-5 No. 13, leading to another birdie.

“He was hitting fairways and greens and I was kind of all over the place, grinding my tail off all day,” Rodgers said.

Citing his three-round score, Rodgers said, “Can’t be too mad about that … but I can be mad about it because I didn’t win.”

Lashley, the 2009 Utah Open winner, planned to resume the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica schedule in mid-September, hoping to move from No. 8 into the top five on the money list and earn Web.com Tour membership for 2016. That’s also the goal of Rodgers, who faces a longer, more traditional route, starting with the pre-qualifying stage of the Web.com Tour process in California.


Patton Kizzire and Thanksgiving Point

by Jay Drew

Cover Feature • November 2015

 Officially, 29-year-old Southerner Patton Kizzire won the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship in early August and earned the right to have his name placed on the inaugural Billy Casper Cup.

 The tournament’s venue, the Golf Club at Thanksgiving Point, was also declared a winner, by most accounts, in its first year hosting the event after a 16-year run at Willow Creek Country Club.

 Although it gave up its longstanding course record three times, the long and treacherous course in Lehi stood up to some of the most talented golfers on the planet who do not call the PGA Tour home and provided the stern test officials said it would. And that was without the prevailing winds from the North, of which Thanksgiving Point regulars are quite familiar.

 “It was a difficult, but fair, test of golf,” said Kizzire, who defeated South Korea’s Sung Kang with a birdie on the second playoff hole after both golfers shot 19-under-par 269 in regulation.

 Tournament director Mark Whetzel predicted final-round fireworks down the stretch on Thanksgiving Point’s gnarly back nine, and the field delivered a memorable finish, with the lead switching hands several times in front of a national Golf Channel television audience and a decent gallery of 1,000 or so interested onlookers.

Kizzire said he was “pretty relieved and excited” to win the tournament, but the relief wasn’t in knowing he made enough clutch shots down the stretch when Kang was making him earn everything he got.

 “The relief is from far before today,” he said. “I’ve been really close to winning a lot. Last year, playing various mini-tours, I finished second 11 times before I won an event at Columbia, South Carolina, so the victories seem to be a little sweeter after all the near-misses.”

 Kizzire entered the tournament as the tour’s leading money winner, but with no titles to his credit. He had eight top-10 finishes, including two second-place finishes, but somehow a championship had eluded him until is Utah visit.

“Winning a tournament and winning the money title are two goals I have this year,” he said. “To finally get the win in a tournament like this was huge. With kind of the monkey off my back, I feel like I will be able to play a little bit looser and not worry too much about the outcome.”

 Sang, 28, almost kept it from happening.

 Kizzire had a four-shot lead when he birdied No. 9, but Kang made things interesting with a rally on the back nine, touring the tougher nine with five birdies. It was Kang’s second-straight second-place finish in the tournament, matching his accomplishment at Willow Creek in 2014.

 “I played great today,” Kang said, after carding a 67 to Kizzire’s 69 in regulation. “I did what I needed to do. … I just couldn’t get a putt to drop on those last few holes.”

 The tournament turned into match play down the stretch, because Kizzire and Kang separated themselves from the pack by about the 14th hole on Sunday. Kang birdied the 17th hole to tie it up, and actually had a slightly closer putt on No. 18 in regulation than Kizzire did, but it just slid by the hole.

 “I thought I had made it,” he said later.

 There was a five-way tie for third at 14-under par as Zack Fischer, Garth Mulroy, Alex Aragon, Tag Ridings and Scott Harrington all finished at 274. Lucas Lee’s 64 was the low round of the day, and vaulted him into a three-way tie for eighth at 275 with Stephan Jaeger and Ryan Blaum.

 The field featured two Utahns, Keith Clearwater and Gipper Finau, but neither local product made the cut.

Both playoff holes were contested on the par 4 18th; had another hole been needed, it would have been contested on No. 9.

On 18 in regulation and again on the first playoff hole, Kizzire pushed his tee shot left. It went past the cart path and into a rocky area on the first playoff hole, but he somehow managed to find the green with his approach and then survived when Kang left a 20-footer shot.

“Sometimes I don’t hit it in the best spots, so I get a lot of practice out of weird situations,” Kizzire said of the recovery. “So that was nice to get it on the green … It was sitting pretty bad.”

Finally, on the second playoff hole, also on 18, Kizzire found the fairway after not even thinking about hitting anything but driver off the tee. After Kang missed an 18 footer, Kizzire’s 3-footer sealed the deal — finally.

“It was one of the longest 3-footers I’ve ever had,” he said.

The “General,” as he is known on the Web.com Tour, due to his first name, will now set his sights on keeping his No. 1 spot on the money list, a spot that brings some extra perks next year on the PGA Tour.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be holding the trophy,” he said as a fan shouted “War Eagle,” a tribute to his alma-mater, Auburn University.

The tournament started with a bang, as former Southern Methodist University golfer Kelly Kraft fired a 9-under-par 63 to break the course record of 64 held jointly by Mike Weir, Jimmy Blair and Steve Schneiter.

Golfers reviewed Thanksgiving Point positively after the first round, saying it was far more difficult than Willow Creek.

“We’re only 20 minutes away and it feels like we’re in a different world,” said former Duke star Ryan Blaum.

Kizzire surged into the lead on Friday with a sparkling 62 to break Kraft’s record, which lasted a little more than 24 hours. About an hour after Kizzire finished, Alabama graduate Trey Mullinax matched his 62 to get a piece of the course record for himself.

The 36-hole cut came at 1-under-par 143 after it was 5-under 137 last year at par-71 Willow Creek.

Saturday brought more calm conditions in the morning, but the wind picked up in the afternoon as it did all four days of the tournament.

Kizzire held onto his lead, but it was trimmed to two strokes after he shot a 71.

Leaving the course on Saturday night, Kizzire predicted he would sleep well after playing some gin rummy and watching a baseball game on television with his roommates. He also said he was looking forward to getting the monkey off his back.

“I can’t tell you how good that made me feel, getting my hands on that trophy,” he said after receiving the $117,000 first-place check.


Chugg Repeats at Mary Lou Baker Open

by Joe Watts

Cover Feature • November 2015

Sadie Palmer shot five under par 66 at Davis Park Golf Course to grab the first round lead of the Mary Lou Baker Open, but her lead was tenuous at best as right on her heels, just one shot back, was defending champion Kelsey Chugg.

During a five hole stretch on the front nine Palmer made three birdies and an eagle to account for her solid score. Chugg had five birdies, but bogeyed the ninth hole.

The Mary Lou Baker Open leaderboard is typically packed full of the state’s most distinguished women players. Xena Motes shot a 2-under 69, Brooklyn Hocker and Carly Oldroyd each shot 1-under par and were very much in the hunt. Tara Green was even par 71 after the opening round.

Two of the biggest names in Utah golf, Sirene Blair and Lea Garner were also in contention after the first day, Garner shot 71 and Blair shot 72. Blair, who plays collegiately at San Diego State, won the title in 2013 and 2010, and Garner, who plays at BYU, won the title in 2012 and 2011.

During the final round Chugg caught and passed Palmer to repeat as champion. The two played flawlessly on the front nine, each posting three under par 33s. Palmer continued her bogey free play until the 16th hole when she went double bogey, bogey to finish even par. Palmer’s double bogey on 15, due to an awkward lie in a bunker, allowed Chugg to leap-frog to the lead. It was the two-shot difference.

“It was a lot of fun, but I felt bad for Sadie’s bad lie in the bunker. Neither one wanted it to end that way. She played great,” Chugg said.

Chugg, who is the director of membership services for the UGA, is a three-time Women’s Utah State Amateur champion and now she claims two Mary Lou Baker championship titles.

BYU’s Hocker shot the best round of the day, a 67, which put her into a tie for second place with Palmer, two shots behind Chugg. Cassandra Lesa won Second Flight with a score of 71-74-145, and Bayleigh Woodland won Third Flight with a score of 80-81-161.


Utah Rolls on at Shootout

by Dick Harmon

Cover Feature • November 2015

The streak grew to six straight years after the Utah Golf Association’s team of top amateurs defeated Arizona Golf Association 40-32 in the annual Utah/Arizona Shootout at Jeremy Ranch in mid-October.  This represents the largest run by either side in the 25 year history of the event. Utah now has a 14-10-1 lead in the series.

A Ryder Cup type format pitting the two association’s teams is typically a back-and-forth affair through the first round of Foursome and Four-ball matches. This year Team Utah needed a strong finish in the Singles matches to come from behind during the final round to win victories in the final five matches and retain the Shootout trophy. Utah won the Foursomes segment 9 ½ to 8 1/2 , but Arizona won the Four Ball session 10 to 8 and held a one point lead going into the final round Singles matches. Utah won the Singles matches 22 ½ to 13 ½.

Kelsey Chugg, in the first Singles match of the day, won all of her points going 3-0 and then Cameron Crawford’s, Ryan Brimley’s and Darrin Overson’s wins propelled Utah to victory. No Arizona player managed to sweep any of their Utah opponents on the final day.

Utah captain Kurt Bernhisel called the competition, “golf at the highest level.”

“It’s a lot of fun with great young women and men,” said Bernhisel. “The thing that stands out is this affair is a friendly match. It’s not life or death but a reward for each member of both teams for stellar play throughout the year.  It’s fun to play quality players and at quality venues such as we had here at Jeremy Ranch this year.”

Utah’s team is comprised of players who accumulate the highest Player Performance Rankings for the season in their division tournaments throughout the state.  “It’s a situation where players are very aware of what points are needed and earned all year long and are trying to get at the top.  It’s a lot of fun and it is a real honor to be selected to this team,” said Bernhisel.

While Bernhisel’s captaincy was appointed as an established member of the UGA’s board of directors, Arizona simply names its captain as the player atop the state’s own player ranking system.  That man this year is Adam Walicki, who has also played in the Shootout the past five years.

“It sounds corny but getting to play against these players from Utah, the comradery that is built is what stands out about the event and is exactly what it was designed for,” said Walicki, who played college golf in Michigan.

“There is no two ways about it; it’s just plenty of fun.  I’ve played in a lot of tournaments where I didn’t have fun.  This isn’t one of them.  This is a tournament you don’t care as much about the outcome because there are so many factors out of your control and there are so many points out there to be won.  It is really a team effort.  You can play really well and still lose; you can play terrible and still win, as a team.  You kind of know the outcome can go in so many directions.  I remember two years ago playing at Victory Ranch, playing really well and getting blown out, said Walikki”

A complete results history of the Utah/Arizona Shootout can be found on UGA.Org.


Product Review

Department • August 2015

by Mike Stansfield

  • TaylorMade M1 Driver

    TaylorMade M1 Driver

    The new TaylorMade M1 Driver has a multi-material construction, highlighted by a proprietary 7-layer carbon composite crown.  The crown is precision-formed and built ultra-thin and ultra-lite to maximize weight savings.  This ultra-lite crown frees up weight for the new T-Track system on the M1.  The front track has one 15g weight that adjusts for multiple draw, neutral and fade settings.  The back track has one 10 g weight that adjusts for multiple high, medium and low launch and spin settings.  For more information on the new dual track system go to taylormadegolf.com.

  • Mizuno MP-25 Irons

    Mizuno MP-25 Irons

    A stunning tour inspired design and utilizing innovative Grain Flow Forged 1025 Boron, the MP-25 irons strike a balance between adding distance without sacrificing feel and ball control. To help activate the 1025 Boron material, Mizuno’s team of designers created the Micro-slot which helps the face flex for added distance. Also, with standard lofts, the MP-25 iron maintains proper gaps between irons for ideal distance control. MP-25 irons are recommended for players with a 0 to10 handicap index.

    Grain Flow Forged 1025 Boron provides 30% stronger material for added distance while delivering soft, solid, consistent feel. Milling the head from the sole up creates a Micro-slot that activates the strength of the 1025 Boron material for added distance and increased forgiveness. Micro Slot Technology is available in #3 - #6 irons. Solid 1025 Boron Muscle Design (#7 – PW) enhances feel and shot making maneuverability.

  • Mizuno JPX EZ Forged

    The use of 1025 Boron catapults the JPX EZ Forged forward with increased distance and forgiveness. With the 30% stronger 1025 Boron material, the JPX EZ Forged irons deliver a thinner face for amazing distance, while allowing the weight savings to be distributed out to the four corners to amplify the Power Frame design resulting in maximum forgiveness. The wide sole design helps to lower the sweet spot to deliver effortless flight. Moreover, the Triple Cut sole helps the player cleanly strike the ball from all types of lies.  JPX EZ Forged irons are recommended for players with a 8 to 18 handicap index.

    Mizuno JPX EZ Forged

  • Tour Edge Exotics EXd Irons

    Tour Edge Exotics

    EXd Irons

    Tour Edge Golf recently  announced the introduction of the new Exotics EXd irons. The EXd irons feature the largest free standing face with the deepest undercut cavity.  It is extremely hot and able to flex more at impact to add more distance.  Pushing face flexibliltiy TourEdge developed an advanced Variable Face thickness that produces great spring effect and forgiveness.  With a generous offset design for added forgiveness the irons help players return to square at impact.  High density tungsten weights are positioned in the heel and toe for a longer MOI which helps stablilize  the clubhead on mishits For more information go to www.touredge.com.

  • Sun Mountain 2Five Stand/Carry Bags

    Sun Mountain

    2Five Stand/Carry Bags

    Sun Mountain’s goal was to build the lightest weight, full-featured golf bag on the market . To accomplish this goal they used carbon fiber legs, lightweight nylon fabric, high density foam, high-strength-to-weight plastics and their proprietary X-Strap Dual Strap System. The finished product weighs in at just 2.5 pounds.  For more information on this revolutionary light weight bag see www.sunmountain.com.

  • Nike Method Converge Putter

    Nike Method

    Converge Putter

    Putting is a balance of rhythm and tempo, dependent upon distance control and a smooth, consistent stroke. To help golfers achieve their ideal equilibrium, Nike Golf has engineered the Nike Method Converge putter featuring CounterFlex technology. This technology positions a 75-gram moveable weight system inside the grip that can be adjusted on a 15-inch slide.  For more information on the CounterFlex putting  technology go to nike.com.


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