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USGA amateur event finally coming to Utah — in 2012

Published: Tuesday, July 12 2011 10:15 p.m. MDT

MIDWAY — Tuesday was apparently the official media day in Utah with at least three different sports media functions going on.

While one was for an event a day away (the Triple A All-Star Game), another for something a month away (the start of BYU's first football season as an independent), the one at the Soldier Hollow Golf Course previewed an event still a year away, the U.S. Public Links Championship.

The U. S. Public Links will be the first-ever U.S. Golf Association event contested in Utah. Right now, Utah is one of three states never to have held a USGA event.

The prestigious tournament, in which the winner earns an invitation to play in The Masters, will be played on the Gold Course at Soldier Hollow, where last week's Men's State Amateur was played. The tournament will be played the week of July 9-14 in 2012.

"The USGA is thrilled to be bringing the first-ever USGA event to Utah," said Mike Bailey, the Regional Affairs Committeeman for the USGA. "This is one of the most important amateur golf tournaments in the world. The competitors will fall in love with the state of Utah by playing here."

Utah's own Clay Ogden won the Publinks tournament in 2005 in Ohio, beating Michelle Wie in a memorable quarterfinal match and going on to earn a spot in the Masters in 2006.

He flew in late Monday night from a professional tournament in Ohio to be on hand at Soldier Hollow Tuesday.

"The 2005 tournament clearly changed my golf career," Ogden said. "It was an incredible week. USGA events are amazing."

Ogden is astonished a USGA event has never been held in Utah and said, "the U.S. Public Links is a perfect fit because there are so many great public golf courses in Utah. I think people will be blown away when they get here."

The Solider Hollow Course will be modified with six new tee boxes, according to Soldier Hollow pro Chris Newson, who said one hole from the Silver Course will be merged with one on the Gold Course to produce a 550-yard par-4, which will be the longest par-4 in USGA history.

"We are very excited to be part of this historic event," said Bill Walker, the executive director of the Utah Golf Association. "I can't think of a better facility for this event than Soldier Hollow. We're asking Utah golfers to support this first-ever USGA event in Utah."

One of the main reasons to talk about a golf tournament a year away is the need to get volunteers. Between 300 and 400 volunteers will be needed for a variety of jobs in putting on the tournament, from caddies to ball spotters to shuttle drivers. Beginning Aug. 15, people can register online to volunteer at the Utah Golf Association website as well as a USAPL website that will be up by that time.

email: sor@desnews.com

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