Utah Open: Fielding takes two-shot lead into final round today
St. George pro takes a two-shot lead into finale of Utah Open
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FARMINGTON — Even though he's Utah born and bred, Dusty Fielding isn't well-known among Utah professional golf circles. When longtime Utah pro Steve Schneiter was told Fielding was leading the tournament after the second round of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open on Saturday, he had to ask who he was.
Well, Schneiter will get to know Fielding today as they play together in the final threesome of the $125,000 tournament at Oakridge Country Club.
Fielding, a Richfield native who lives in St. George, fired his second consecutive 65 on Saturday and takes a two-shot lead over Lehi's Gipper Finau and a three-shot lead over Schneiter and two others.
Sandy's Schneiter is joined by Derek Tolan of Denver and James Drew of Las Vegas at 133, while four players, including BYU senior Zac Blair, stand tied at 134.
The reason Fielding isn't familiar to a lot of local golfers is his meager golf background and because he has lived away from the Wasatch Front his whole life.
Fielding was a basketball star in high school and didn't even take up golf until he was a teenager. He was cut from the Dixie State golf team the first time he tried out, although he played for Dixie after an LDS mission. He didn't turn pro until four years ago and has played in mostly out-of-state events.
At age 29, Fielding is playing in the Utah Open for only the second time and he's making the best of it.
After an almost "flawless" round Friday, Fielding hit what he said were his two best shots of the day at No. 1 when he blasted a drive over 350 yards and hit a 9-iron within four feet for an eagle. After that, Fielding said he was a bit "jittery" and "anxious," but was still able to play bogey-less golf for the second straight day and add seven birdies.
"All day long I didn't feel super-comfortable over the ball, but I managed it around," he said. "And my putter was a lot better today."
Fielding has never won a professional event, but has been close many times and finished second "nine or 10 times." He hopes that experience will pay off Sunday.
"The more times you get there, the more comfortable you feel," he said. "Today gave me a lot of confidence because I didn't play as well and still managed to put up a good number."
A big paycheck would be welcome for Fielding, who is owed about $15,000 by the National Pro Golf Tour, which folded earlier this week.
Finau played in the final group of the day Saturday and credited his driver for his 67, following up on his first-round 65.
"My driver is really comfortable," he said. "I've been aggressive hitting my driver this week."
Salt Lake Country Club pro Ron Branca can attest to that. He played in the group in front of Finau and he watched Finau's drive at the 369-yard No. 3 hole hit just in front of the green Friday and roll past him on the green to within eight feet of the pin. On Saturday, Branca said he kept hearing "thumps" near the greens as Finau hit to the edge of several par-4s.
Tolan, who has played in the final group or second-to-last group in each of the past few Utah Opens, shot a 69 and could have been better, but he took a two-stroke penalty for a lost ball on a drive when he drove through a fairway and unbelievably couldn't find it in the rough.
Another Colorado golfer, Kane Webber of Denver, shot a 65 and stands in the four-way tie for fourth at 134 with Blair and Salt Lake's Zach Johnson and Brad Bessler of Blessing, Texas.
Former Masters champion Mike Weir, who has attracted most of the gallery at the tournament, improved slightly Saturday with a 69 and heads into the final round in a tie for 31st place at 139.
"I played a little better, I just didn't capitalize on a couple of things," he said. "But I put a few drivers in the fairways today."
OPEN NOTES: The cut came at 2-under 142 with 61 players making it to Sunday. ... The first group tees off at 7:48 a.m. and the final threesome tees off at 11:48 a.m.. ... Weir, who tees off at 9:12 a.m., is catching a 4:50 p.m. flight to Paris on his way to a tournament in Switzerland. ... Defending champion Clay Ogden shot a 68 and stands at 138. West Jordan's Luke Swilor tied Schneiter for the best score of the day, firing a 9-under-par 63 in the morning wave and missing the course record by one shot. ... Swilor is the son of Milan Swilor, who 20 years ago set a Utah Open record by shooting a 61 at Willow Creek Country Club.
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