Utah State Am Qualifier 2014

Last summer when I had started to play golf a little bit more I set a goal to qualify for the Utah State Amateur in 2014. The Utah State Am holds the designation of  the longest continuously held golf tournament in the world, never taking a break for the World Wars, being held for 116 consecutive year.

There are 10 qualifying sites where, along with the automatic qualifiers, a selected number of individuals make it to the first two days of the championship proper. Two weeks ago Thursday, was my qualifying date at Wingpointe Golf Course. There were 84 players going for 29 guaranteed spots and 2 alternate positions. I had figured I would need close to a 75 to qualify.

After an average three-over, 39, on the front nine, an even rockier back nine began, double bogeying the 11th and bogeying the 12th and 13th. I was now seven over after 13 and knew for sure that would be above the cut line. On 14 and 15 I made solid putts to save pars before crushing a drive on the 550 yard 16th, setting up a two putt birdie. Then on the short par 3, I put a ball safely on the green and had an 18 footer for birdie which found its way in the hole via the side door. On 18 I was off to the right of the green in two and had a routine chip but hit the green hard and ran 12 feet past the hole. The comeback putt for a 77 was just an inch short and I finished the day with a 78. 

When I entered the clubhouse I was tied for 4th with 20 players finished. It seemed likely that I was in the field but as more and more players came in, my name kept dropping and dropping down the list until when it was all said and done players that scored 77 were in and the six players that shot 78, including myself, were off to a six way playoff for the two alternate spots.

After an errant tee-shot on the 1st hole, after a two hour break I should add, I hit my approach to 10 feet! I subsequently left the birdie putt an inch outside to the right for the win but three people were eliminated with bogey. On the 2nd hole, I made routine par and thought I had the first alternate spot locked up until one of the competitors trained a 30-footer to tie! On Wingpointe's long third hole I hit my drive into the water and the rest was history- I would be the second alternate and await the call from the UGA.

The dream ended today when registation ended for the championship. The first alternate got in, the one who trained the the 30-foot putt and won on the third playoff hole, not me. I am more determined to come back and not only play in the championship next year but make into the match-play portion of the event. It should be a fun ride!