Randy Dodson, Fairways Media
MIDWAY — One he could control, the other he could not.
Sandy's Dan Horner ate up all his advantages. He had the sight lines, he knew all the breaks on the greens and easily nailed club selection decisions at Utah's altitude where others were just guessing — all advantages as a local golfer. That kept him within striking distance of medalist honors in the 87th Public Links U.S. Amateur Championship at Soldier Hollow on Monday.
What cost Horner was the pace of play and a lost ball by a member of his group that set his threesome behind on the ninth hole. Sean Elliott of Bayonne, N.J., hit an approach shot on No. 9 that a forecaddie and a dozen Easter egg hunters could not find in front of the No. 9 green. Elliott ultimately had to return and hit his ball again with a penalty as Horner's group fell behind by two holes.
Tick .. tick ... tick. USGA timers, ever-so anxious about the pace of play rule, were all over the course with watches and warnings that unnerved the nervous.
Horner got swallowed up in this during the first national USGA championship ever hosted by Utah. But he played super when the clock ran true.
Because of pace, Horner practically ran to his ball on the back nine, trying to catch up to the group ahead and avoid being penalized. The group ahead, which had lagged behind on the front, suddenly rocketed out of sight at the turn, and Horner had to play gallop golf.
Horner, the 2009 Utah State Amateur champion on the Silver Course at Soldier Hollow, went from 3 under par to 1 under with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 13. His short birdie putt on the par-3 17th got him back to 2 under and a finish at 69, a couple shots behind morning leaders Jace Long (Dixon, Mo.), and Bryson DeChambeau (Clovis, Calif.) at 4-under 67.
Horner, 32, is kind of the Older Guy Great Hope in this championship that is crowded with young college golfers who don't hold jobs. Horner is a building material salesman and one of Utah's top amateurs.
A playing partner asked Horner what college he played with on Monday. Horner looked at him and laughed, "I'm an old guy."
Still, Horner doesn't mind going against supple youth, trekking up and down the fairways at Soldier Hollow under a blistering sun.
"I've played national tournaments against these young guys before," he said. "I don't mind."
He did blame his two bogeys on the chore of playing extremely fast to take off a warning for pace of play after No. 9. "I couldn't catch my breath, I ran to my ball those holes."
Utah's elevation had USGA officials worrying that Soldier Hollow would not be long or tough enough for the best amateurs in the world this week.
Wrong. It was plenty tough. Players described the course as very long, the greens lightning fast, approaching 13 on the stimpmeter. Approach shots on the edges ran off the green, some wedge shots hit to the center crawled off the back of greens.
"The course was very difficult and long," said Herbie Aikens of Pembroke, Mass., who made it to the round of 16 last year before losing to a kid who just turned pro.
"If you lose your drive, this fescue is brutal. Probably four or five times today, I grabbed a lob wedge and hit as hard as I could and advanced it probably 25 yards if I was lucky."
Aikens, an "old guy" with a job like Horner, shot a 5-over 76.
"The greens were beautiful, tough to read," Aikens said. "I think everything breaks towards the valley, so when you had a straight read, you had to factor in the valley. It fooled me a couple of times. It's a great track but a hard one to keep pace. If you fall behind, this isn't the place to try and catch up."
Aikens said walking Soldier Hollow is a challenge.
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler Haws'...
- BYU basketball: Agustin Ambrosino leaves BYU...
- Hard work, dedication pay off for Utah's Karl...
- Stump the Smith: Can you answer the questions...
- LIVE TODAY: Deseret News live streaming...
- High school softball: Copper Hills earns a...
- ESPN trivia guru: University of Utah graduate...
- High school boys soccer: Lehi beats Bingham,...
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 56
- Hard work, dedication pay off for... 37
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler... 29
- Bodyguards allegedly beat up 2 fans who... 19
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz... 19
- Utah State football: New coach Matt... 12
- BYU basketball: Agustin Ambrosino... 11
- BYU football: Fan-developed software... 8