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Dick Harmon: Unknown LDS Business College instructor pushes medalist winner to the limit at Utah State Amateur

Published: Wednesday, July 10 2013 8:52 p.m. MDT

Cole Ogden, one of the hottest amateur golfers in Utah, had to go 19 holes in his match play matchup before outlasting 51-year-old LDS Business College instructor Craig Wilson on Wednesday at the Utah State Amateur.

Randy Dodson, Fairways Media

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MIDWAY — It was a match for the ages and proof that the Utah State Amateur features some of the most dramatic golf anyone can witness anywhere.

On the first day of match play, all former champions advanced. But some mighty good golfers fell.

It took only about an hour Wednesday for whispers to spread through the clubhouse and on the course at Soldier Hollow: Cole Ogden, one of the hottest amateur golfers in Utah, a guy who won medalist honors by two shots after 36 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday, was getting all he could handle from some unknown who’d barely made the field.

In fact, many veteran golfers and tournament folks didn’t know this challenger at all. He was a mystery man.

Cole Ogden, meet Craig Wilson, a 51-year-old LDS Business College instructor.

The two battled in a match that went to the 19th hole. While Ogden got up 2 after 13, Wilson wouldn’t go away until his final pin-rattling shot barely missed in sudden death.

Ogden found himself down to Wilson right out of the chute. Ogden, a current member of BYU’s golf team and recent winner of the Valley View Amateur, Glen Eagle Amateur and Dixie Red Hills Amateur and also the low-scoring amateur at the Provo Open, was supposed to easily dispatch Wilson, a guy who barely qualified for match play.

Not so fast.

Before Wilson left Soldier Hollow on Tuesday, he finished with two birdies to get into a playoff, then made another birdie to survive two extra holes that featured 11 hungry players trying to kill off one another for three spots after 61 of 288 players had already nailed down match play berths.

“I’d never met him in my life until we shook hands on the first tee,” said Ogden.

Then boom, Ogden found himself down one hole to Wilson after three. “All I thought about was grinding,” said Ogden.

As the match progressed, both players made spectacular shots, knocking down pins and almost making a hole-in-one.

Wilson’s task was steep. Of the 32 matches Wednesday, a lower seed won just seven of them.

Ogden caught Wilson and went ahead on the seventh hole and then had a heck of a time ending the match, even after leading by two after 13. Wilson hit the pin on the par-4 uphill 15th to square the match with a 4-foot birdie.

On the long par-5 16th hole, Ogden drove his tee shot into the fairway bunker on the right side and had 255 yards to the green. Wilson hit his approach shot short in the green-side bunker, leaving him 55 yards to the hole.

Ogden took out a utility club and rifled a near-perfect shot that landed on line 3 feet short of the green and rolled to within 8 feet for eagle. “Shot of the day,” said Wilson to Ogden as he approached the green. Wilson then opened up an 8-iron and blasted out of the sand to 4 feet for birdie. But Ogden won the hole by making his 3 to go up 1.

On the 17th, a 200-yard par 3, Ogden pulled his tee shot into the junk left. Seeing that, Wilson used a shot he’d practice at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon and hit his tee shot short as a runner and it rolled to within 18 inches for a conceded birdie to square it all.

Both players parred 18 to send the match into sudden death on the No. 1 uphill par-4, where Wilson made the left rough, took a stroke to get out of trouble and overshot the green in three. Ogden missed the green left but chipped to a few inches for a tap-in par.

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