Volume 24 • Issue 3 • August 2015

Rodgers Dominates at Soldier Hollow

By Mike Sorensen

UJGA Crowns Junior Am Champs

Official Monthly Digital Magazine

of the Utah Golf Association

July 2015 Issue

by Mike Sorensen

A Sudden Death Birdie for Brimley

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Wilson and Son

Teammates Team Up to Win

Four-Ball4-Ball

Jeon's Big Win

by Mike Sorensen

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Product Review

SkyCaddie, Swingclick, Fairways Woods, Wedges, Putters, Irons

by Mike Stansfield

by Dick Harmon

View the August 2015 Issue Below

Rodgers Dominates at Soldier Hollow

By Mike Sorensen

Cover Feature • August 2015

To some folks, a big memory of the 2015 Utah State Amateur was all the weather delays, with more interruptions caused by lightning or rain that any other State Amateur in the last 50 years, perhaps in history.

But that wasn’t the big story of this year’s State Amateur, which was contested the second week of July at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway for the fifth time in the past decade.

No, it was the brilliant play of Jordan Rodgers, who dominated the 117th State Am like few golfers have done in the past.

The 25-year-old Salt Lake native shared medalist honors with two other golfers over the first two rounds and then won six straight matches, burying his first four opponents with decisive victories before outlasting two top amateurs in the final two rounds to take home the coveted trophy.

Rodgers, who completed his collegiate career at BYU two months earlier, capped off his wonderful week with a 3 and 1 victory over former champion Darrin Overson, who at the age of 40, was trying to replicate his 1998 victory at Riverside Country Club.

In the end, one of the most closely contested final matches in State Am history came down to a couple of costly mistakes on the final nine by Overson and a pair of outstanding shots by Rodgers to put the match away.

“It feels great to win—it’s exciting,’’ said Rodgers, shortly after his victory. “It was a long week.’’

Rodgers opened with a 3-under-par 69 on the less-demanding Silver Course, which played a couple of strokes easier the first two days of the tourney, and came back with a 66 on the tougher Gold Course on Tuesday. That’s when the first of four consecutive days of weather delays came, halting play for more than three hours.

That meant three dozen players had to finish the following day and two of them, University of Utah golfer Justin Mortensen and BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn, ended up tiedwith Rodgers at 135.

Rodgers received the No. 2 seed behind defending champion Jon Wright and began mowing down opponents.

First it was New Zealand native Isaiah Wolferstan by an 8 and 6 margin in the first round, then Taylorsville’s Glen Spencer 5 and 4 in the Round of 32. Next it was a 6 and 5 thrashing of David Jennings, followed by a 4 and 3 win over 18-year-old Kai Ruiz in the quarterfinals. Rodgers never even made it to the 16th tee in any of his first four matches.

Meanwhile Overson was going the distance in all of his matches. He needed 19 holes to get out of the first round against University of Utah golfer Jonathan Thomas, then beat another Ute, Steve Croft, in the second round, 1 up.   That was followed by three more 1 up victories over former State Am runner up Carl Jensen, 19-year-old Charlie Duensing and University of Utah golfer Brandon Kida in the semifinals.

Rodgers faced his first adversity in the Friday semifinals against Utah State senior Seokwon Jeon as he fell behind early, came back to go up by three with three holes left only to see Jeon win holes 16 and 17. At 18, Jeon had a chance to force extra holes, but missed a 6-foot birdie putt after which Rodgers sank a 4-foot par putt to close out the match.

Wright, who was gunning for his third State Am title in four years after winning at the Salt Lake Country Club in 2012 besides last year at Ogden Country Club, had to come from behind to beat Brady Stanger in 20 holes in his opening match before beating Ute golfer Jose Pelayo 4 and 2 in the second.

However, he didn’t have an answer for the steady putting of Kida in the third-round match and the 22-year-old from Layton eliminated Wright with a 4 and 3 victory.

Others who made the quarterfinals besides Kida, Duensing, Ruiz and Jeon were former champion Joe Parkinson and 43-year-old Salt Lake businessman John Owen. Kida eliminated Parkinson 2 and 1, while Jeon defeated Owen by the same margin.

On Wednesday a cloudburst left puddles on some greens and delayed play for nearly an hour and on Thursday, lightning caused another delay over an hour. The same thing happened on Friday when lightning in the area forced another hour delay on Friday afternoon before Overson and Rodgers captured their 1-up victories.

The 36-hole final didn’t feature any rain or lightning for a change, but did include a steady wind from the southwest for much of the match, which affected some shots and made the players more cautious with their putting on the greens.

The finals match was one of the closest in recent memory with neither player able to gain more than a one-hole advantage until the 34th hole of the match.

Overson won back-to-back holes on the first nine to go 1 up, only to see Rodgers win holes 14 and 16 with birdies to take a 1-up lead into the lunch break.

Coming out of the chutes in the afternoon, Rodgers missed a pair of short putts and fell behind after the 21st hole, but he evened the match when Overson found trouble at the 22nd hole. Then Rodgers rolled in the longest putt of the day, a 30-footer at the 24th hole to go back into the lead.

That lead was short-lived, however, when Rodgers had more short-game difficulties, chunking a chip to lose the 26th hole and three-putting from 12 feet at the next hole to fall back.

“My chipping was terrible,’’ Rodgers said. “We gave each other so many presents all day.’’

However on the next two holes, Overson made key mistakes to give the lead back to Rodgers for good.

After outdriving Rodgers for one of the few times all day at the par-4 10th hole, the 28th hole of the match, Overson took four shots from 100 yards out to lose the hole. His wedge shot skidded across the green some 75 feet away and he left his putt 20 feet short. Rodgers only needed to two-putt from the fringe 20 feet away to claim the hole when Overson left his putt short again.

At 11 both players had identical length putts of around 45 feet—a UGA official had to flip a coin to determine who hit first—and Rodgers came up five feet short and Overson four feet short, on similar lines. However, Rodgers sank his and Overson missed to the right, giving Rodgers the lead.

Up until that point, Rodgers’ lag putting had been excellent, but he knew those two holes were critical.

“The lag putting on those two holes cost me, for sure,’’ said Overson. “That was kind of the turning point of the match.’’

Rodgers kept his 1-up lead over the next four holes and then came up big at the 589-yard par-5 16th hole.

With Overson hitting his 3-wood all day because of a lack of confidence in a new driver he had, Rodgers had a big length advantage off the tee. After a 300-yard-plus drive, Rodgers hit one of the best shots of his life—270 yards, uphill, into-the-wind—with his 3-wood. He thought he had enough to clear the greenside bunker and make the green, but wasn’t sure until his father signaled to him it was on the back fringe.

“I didn’t know where it was because no one clapped and it was the shot of the week,’’ he said later.

Overson was well short in two and when he couldn’t get up and down for birdie, Rodgers just needed a two-putt to win the hole and go 2 up for the first time all day.

Although the match was “dormie,’’ Rodgers remembered the day before when he was dormie with three holes left and lost two straight holes. But he hit another great shot at the downhill 222-yard par-3 17th hole, sticking his 6-iron to within 10 feet. After Overson’s chip nearly went in for birdie, Rodgers had two putts for the win and sank his birdie putt anyway to punctuate his victory.

“It’s more of a relief to know that I can hit clutch shots under pressure,’’ Rodgers said. “My shots on 16 and 17 were as good as I could have hit them.’’

Rodgers said afterward that this will be his final State Am, since he had plans to turn professional in August after trying for the U.S. Amateur. He hopes to join Tony Finau, a friend from his Utah junior golf days, who gave him some advice earlier in the week, and Zac Blair, his teammate at BYU, on the PGA Tour sometime in the future.

As for Overson, he says he plans to keep trying for another State Am trophy.

“I’ll keep grinding, as long as I can play,’’ he said. “It would have been fun to win.  But I’m really happy for Jordan. He’s a good kid. He’ll have a good professional career.’’

 

UJGA Crowns Junior Am Champs

By Mike Sorensen

Cover Feature • August 2015

It’s definitely an endurance test and that’s what Brock Stanger and Jessica Sloot experienced in a grueling week of golf to win the top prizes in their respective divisions of the Utah Junior Amateur Match Play Tournament in early June.

Stanger survived six matches at four different golf courses in the boys 15-18 division with four of his matches going to at least the final hole, including his 1-up finals victory over Jerzee Houston.

Meanwhile Sloot had to win four matches on her way to the girls 15-18 title, capped by a 2 and 1 victory over Kerstin Fotu. All of the eight finals in the match play tourney were played at Davis Park Golf Course, with previous matches being played at Oakridge Country Club, Schneiter’s Riverside and The Barn in Ogden.

The 17-year-old Stanger, who will be a senior at Orem High School in the fall and has already committed to play for BYU in 2016, said he was just hoping to win a few matches and perhaps get to the third or fourth round after starting as the No. 10 seed.

“I didn’t used to be a big match-play player, but this week I played really solid and got the job done,’’ Stanger said as he stood off the 18th green after his final victory. “I ended up going a lot farther than I thought I would.’’

After winning his first match 8 and 7, Stanger had several close matches, including a 1 up win over Dylan Chugg in the second round, a 19-hole win over Dylan Bloechel in the quarterfinals and a 1 up win over Carson Lundell in the semifinals.

“Most of match play is putting—you’ve got to make putts to win holes,’’ Stanger said. “I putted well this week and I got the job done.’’

His finals’ win over Tooele’s Houston was a roller-coaster affair. Stanger jumped to a 3-up lead through 11 holes only to see Houston come back with four straight winning holes, including a couple of “bombs” to take a 1-up lead with three holes to play.

However, Stanger won 16 and 17 with pars and only needed a par at 18 when Houston’s 12-foot birdie putt to send the match to extra holes, slid by the cup.

Sloot, who won individual and state titles with Davis High this spring, started off with a pair of easy victories in the smaller girls division. But in the semifinals she had a tough match with St. George’s Kyla Smith and had to go to the final hole to finally put her away.

Fotu, a junior at Lone Peak High School, earned the No. 1 seed and defeated Saylor Rabe in the quarterfinals and Karen Valcarce and semifinals by identical 3 and 1 scores.

In the finals, Sloot took charge from the start, winning the first two holes and never letting Fotu get a lead. She closed out the match at No. 17 when Fotu couldn’t get up and down for birdie and Sloot two-putted to close out the match.

“It was so close the entire round,’’ said Sloot. “I just had a few good birdie putts and was playing consistent the whole time. We had nine birdies together.’’

Sloot, who is from Fruit Heights, admitted she had a bit of a home course advantage, since her team practices at Davis Park, but she plays more at Oakridge where the Wednesday and Thursday matches were played.

“I love winning this one because it’s a whole week and it’s fun matches ,’’ she said. “My putting was solid all week and I think that is key in match play.’’

Sloot has one more year of junior golf and high school golf and then plans to play for Colorado State, where she has verbally committed.

In other finals matches, Highland’s Zach Jones defeated Preston Summerhays 1 up in the boys 13-14 division and South Jordan’s Tess Blair beat Caylyn Ponich 8 and 6 in the girls 13-14 division.

Other winners included Caden Dunn, who defeated Carter Frisby 6 and 5 in the boys 11-12 division, Apelila Galeai, who beat Liora Seo 1 up in the girls 11-12 division, Braden Lemke, who had to go 20 holes to edge Quinn Abbott in the boys 10 and under division and Aadyn Long, who defeated Arden Louchheim 3 and 2 in the girls 10 and under division.

 

A Sudden Death Birdie for Brimley

Feature • August 2015

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Any birdie that wins a sudden-death playoff makes for a good ending of a golf tournament. Yet anyone who watched Ryan Brimley and Jordan Rodgers play the 18th hole of regulation in the final round of the UGA Mid-Amateur Championship could be forgiven for thinking the playoff lacked much drama, in comparison.

That’s because Rodgers and Brimley, the eventual winner, almost delivered one of the greatest endings in recent UGA history, one after the other.

Rodgers nearly holed a 114-yard wedge shot on the par-4 No. 18, settling for a birdie that forced a playoff on June 6 at Valley View Golf Course in Layton. Brimley followed with a 40-foot birdie attempt that skimmed the hole, giving him a par. In a sense, then, each player was thankful for the playoff opportunity, while regretting his near-miss.

Brimley ended the playoff quickly, making a 6-foot birdie on the par-4 No. 1 after Rodgers left a 30-footer short.

The playoff contestants had finished at 8-under-par 208 for 54 holes, three strokes ahead of Robbie Fillmore in the event for golfers 25 and older. Brandon Hargett won the Masters (40-over) division at 215 and Craig Wilson took the Senior (50-over) title at 221, including a closing 68.

If Rodgers had holed his approach for the victory on No. 18, it would have ranked with Doug Bybee’s hole-out from the No. 1 fairway at Jeremy Ranch for a 19th-hole semifinal victory in the 1991 State Amateur among the greatest walk-off shots in a UGA tournament. “I actually thought he made it,” Brimley said. “That was awesome to watch.”

Somehow, Rodgers’ ball ended up about 6 inches directly behind the hole. Brimley almost produced his own spectacular ending, but his long putt also refused to fall and they advanced to the brief playoff.

Rodgers ultimately was happy to get into the playoff, having started the final round one stroke behind the co-leaders, Brimley and Fillmore. But he was disappointed to lose another playoff in Davis County, having been eliminated in the quest for the last berth in U.S. Open local qualifying at Glen Eagle Golf Club in May.

“I expect to win every event,” said Rodgers, 25, a Skyline High School product who has completed his BYU golf career and plans to turn pro in August in advance of the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open.

Brimley, 26, who was a golf and basketball star at Hillcrest High before attending Southern Utah University, enjoyed going back and forth with Rodgers and Fillmore in the final round. None of the three ever led by more than one stroke, amid an exchange of birdies and bogeys.

A key moment came at the par-4 No. 15, where Brimley made a 30-foot birdie putt to take a one-stroke edge. Fillmore dropped back with a bogey at the par 5 No. 17, where Brimley and Rodgers each birdied to stay one shot apart, leading to the 18th-hole drama.

Rodgers had opened the tournament with a 67, while Brimley’s three-eagle first round netted him only a 70, because of five bogeys that he attributed to “a lot of silly mistakes.” Brimley followed with a solid 68 in the second round, while Rodgers posted a 72 because of some trouble with judging the speed of the greens and an out-of-bounds drive on No. 18, resulting in a double bogey.

The final round was the kind of adventure that must have made the former Utah Junior Golf Association competitors wish they were playing in a better-ball event. In such a format, they would have teamed for a 63, while tossing out their combined six bogeys. But that made for an intriguing battle, ultimately decided by an extra hole.

Brimley, who works as a broker for Morgan Stanley, qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last year.

 

Wilson and Son

By Dick Harmon

Feature • August 2015

 Craig Wilson was having so much fun walking around East Bay Golf Course with his 13-year old son and caddy Danny that he almost forgot he was competing—and winning—the Utah Golf Association’s Senior Amateur championship in mid-July.

The 53-year old former BYU golfer fired a sizzling 15-under par 36-hole score and then got caught up in just having fun during the final 18 of the 54 holes.  He claims he didn’t even know where he stood—with exception of co-leaders in his group—as he strolled the back nine and finished with a one-shot victory over Springville’s Brett Sampson at 17-under.

“I really had no idea where anyone was,” said Wilson.” I kind of knew where the two guys with me were but I really wasn’t worried about anyone. I was just trying to enjoy every shot.”

Meanwhile, Sampson’s caddy checked his cell phone for updated scores on the par-5 No. 16 fairway and informed Sampson he had a real chance because he was tied for second and within striking distance of Wilson, who was playing in the group behind him.  Sampson made eagle from 10-feet on 16, missed a makeable 10-foot birdie on the par 3 17th and then ran in a birdie on No. 18 to get to 16-under par.

Wilson birdied No. 16 and finished par, par which was enough to hold off Sampson.  The current UGA match play champion, Wilson, began his final round three-under par on the front after failing to birdie No. 1.

“I was fortunate that I hit the ball so well because my putting was suspect.  I just couldn’t make enough putts.”

Wilson finished 65-64-70 199, one stroke ahead of Sampson and two shots better than Jeff Powers (201).  Kirk Siddens finished four shots back in fourth place (203) after shooting an opening round 63.  Kurt Jamison (206), Dana Nelson, Mike Jorgensen and Mike Davis (209) filled out the top six.

Wilson had two eagles, 18 birdies, 29 pars and 5 bogies during his 54-hole championship run.

“It was awesome having Danny out there,” said Wilson of his son. He also credited a friend, Ron Cohn, for giving him some pointers on where to have his body during set up and the swing.  “It’s the best advice I’ve had in years and made a big difference for me.”

 

Teammates Team Up to Win Four-Ball

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Feature • August 2015

Lea Garner and Kendra Dalton are BYU women’s golf teammates, so it should be no surprise that they performed well together in winning the Utah Women’s Four-Ball Championship.

The twist is that college golfers are accustomed to competing individually and just adding up their scores after the round. They support one another and want all of their teammates to do well, obviously, but there’s nothing they can do to help them in the middle of the round.

That explains why Garner and Dalton had to remind themselves in the middle of the June 10-11 UGA event that they were allowed to confer about strategy on the course. They’re just not used to having that opportunity.

“That was something we worked on, coming into the second day, helping each other more,” Garner said. So they made sure to discuss club selection, reading the greens and other factors, making their victory feel more like a team effort, beyond merely choosing the better score on each hole.

It all added up very nicely.

Garner and Dalton followed their opening-round 65 at Glendale Golf Course with another 65 at Rose Park for a total of 16-under-par 130. Utah Valley University coach Sue Nyhus and her daughter Kimberly, who plays for UVU, posted 67-67 to finish second. Annette Gaiotti-Beatrice Peck (68-68) and Jodi White-Kareen Alton (65-71) tied for third place, another two strokes back.

Dalton’s eagle at the par-5 No. 12 highlighted the final round for the BYU duo. They combined for 14 birdies and no bogeys in two days. The Nyhus mother-daughter team made an eagle at Glendale, but carded two front-nine bogeys, offsetting their nine birdies at Rose Park, which played to a par of 74.

“The courses are little bit shorter than we’re used to, so that was fun,” Dalton said. “We hit a lot of wedges and short irons, so that helps a lot.”

They also took advantage of the par-5s, posting only one score higher than “4” on any hole in two rounds. Garner-Dalton birdied each of Glendale’s four par-5s, among their seven birdies in the opening round. The winners followed that performance with the eagle, four birdies and a par on Rose Park’s six par-5s, among their seven birdies in the second round.

Garner, from Bonneville High School near Ogden, will go into her senior year at BYU with some momentum after an outstanding junior year. She won Long Beach State’s Gold Rush Tournament in southern California, shooting 72-71-73 to finish ahead of three host-school players, and posted four other top-10 finishes.

Dalton, who’s from North Carolina, tied for fourth place in a tournament at Tucson National Golf Resort, posting 72-70-69, to highlight her freshman year.

As the Four-Ball Championship’s final round began, a four-stroke victory for any team seemed unlikely. White-Alton had matched the eventual winners’ 65 in the first round by making nine birdies and two bogeys, while the Roberta Scott-Connie Moultrie team was one stroke back and Nyhus-Nyhus was two shots behind.

Alton’s long birdie putt on No. 2 kept some pressure on Garner-Dalton, as they were paired together, but the BYU duo soon pulled away. They kept track of their competitors, but as Dalton said, “We didn’t really worry about ‘em, we just tried to go and make birdies.”

Scott-Moultrie, meanwhile, carded only one birdie on the way to a second-round 76. That left the Nyhus mother-daughter team, which made nine birdies for the day but was derailed by two bogeys on the front nine and never really threatened the leaders.

It was still a very enjoyable event for the Nyhuses, during a year when Sue Nyhus became the first golfer (female or male) to play in every United States Golf Association event offered to her. And because the U.S. Public Links Championship is no longer staged, she will retain that distinction forever. Nyhus completed the women’s circuit in May when she and Gaiotti competed in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. The former Sue Billek’s quest began in 1979, although she didn’t realize it at the time, when she competed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.

Other gross winners were Nan Mendenhall-Valerie Green at 144 in Flight 1, Jackie Brophy-Vickie Lindquist (tying with Denise Vilven-Judy Allem) at 157 in Flight 2 and Linda McBride-Brenda Paris at 173 in Flight 3.

Vilven-Allem took the overall net title, posting 57-58 to finish four strokes ahead of Gaiotti-Peck, who took the championship flight title. Other net winners included Patricia Smith-Cheryle Mason at 123 in Flight 1, Vilven-Allem at 115 in Flight 2 and Betsy Hamilton-Joann Rieben at 119 in Flight 3.

 

Jeon's Big Win

By Mike Sorensen

Feature • August 2015

Seokwon Jeon, who claimed the biggest golf victory of his life when he won the Richard C. Kramer Salt Lake City Amateur in late May, was born in South Korea and lived there for the first few years of his life. Yet Jeon didn’t take up golf while living in that golf-crazed nation and it wasn’t until he was 12, three years after coming to the United States, that he picked up a golf club.

Jeon enjoyed the game, but  was in 9th grade before he started playing in tournaments and he didn’t even play in the top division of the Utah Junior Golf Association for a few years as he made slow but steady progress.

By the time he got to his senior year at Hillcrest High, he was one of the top players for his age and took second at the 2012 4A golf tournament. However, he wasn’t highly recruited and took one of his few offers at Utah State University in Logan where he liked the campus and coach Dean Johansen.

That’s where his game really took off and he was the Aggies’ top golfer as a sophomore and again this past year as a junior when he lost in a playoff at the Cougar Classic and was the team’s low finisher at the Mountain West Conference tournament.

The 21-year-old Jeon hadn’t played in any amateur tournaments in 2015 when he arrived at the Salt Lake City Am, being played at Wingpointe Golf Course because of construction of a new irrigation system at Bonneville Golf Course, the usual home of the City Am. His only previous amateur victory had come at the Northern Utah Amateur in Logan the year before.

He was happy about the change of venue since he hadn’t played well in his three previous City Amateurs at Bonneville and he showed it on the first day when he shot a 7-under par 65 to share the first-round lead with defending champion Joe Parkinson. The highlight of his round was a chip-in eagle at the par-5 15th hole.

“My normal shot is a low draw and I feel I can work that well at Wingpointe,’’ he said. “I like the links style, where I can hit punch shots and keep it in the fairway. And the greens are really good.’’

In Sunday’s final round, Jeon fell behind early but recovered with four birdies, at 3, 5, 6 and 7 that included a 30-foot putt at No. 5.

 Jeon made the turn two up on Parkinson, but the key hole was No. 14, when Jeon sank a 4-footer after Parkinson rolled in an 8-footer. That kept the lead at two and on the following hole, Parkinson found trouble, hitting in the hazard twice at No. 15 for a triple-bogey, while Jeon made birdie. From there Jeon coasted home with pars for a 67 and a 132 total, which tied for the second lowest in tournament history. He would have broken Steve Poulson’s record, except for bogeys on No. 10 both days.

Rhett Rasmussen, a 16-year-old who will be a senior at Corner Canyon High School, finished second for the second straight year and said he was happy with his play on the weekend “except for a couple of swings” that hurt him. One was at No. 10 Sunday when he got in trouble and made a double bogey. Otherwise he had six birdies on the day for a 68 and a 135 total.

Parkinson, the former State Amateur champion who just completed his junior season at BYU, was trying to become the first back-to-back City Am winner since Todd Barker in1991-92.

Joining Parkinson at 139 was C.J. Lee, while former City Am winner Brandon Hargett finished fifth at 140.

Dan Johnson won the B Flight with a 145 total, while Geremy Hand won the B Flight at 153.

 

Product Review

Department • August 2015

by Mike Stansfield

  • SkyCaddie Touch Rangefinder

    SkyCaddie

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  • Exotics CB Pro F2 Limited Edition Fairway Wood

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