It's nice to have, but most of anything I want to win match play. It's nice to be the medalist, but now it's a new tournament and I've got to get my focus back. —Jacob Holt, on his medalist victory
OGDEN — Perhaps the only thing that's hotter than the weather these days is Jacob Holt's golf game.
Holt, a Tooele native and recent graduate of Southern Utah University, put together a two-day total of 10-under-par 132 to take home medalist honors in this year's Utah State Amateur men's golf championship.
He shot a steady, bogey-free round of 2-under-par 68 on Tuesday at the Ogden Golf and Country Club. That, combined with his blistering 8-under 64 on Monday at the Valley View course in Layton, was good enough to give him the medalist title.
And though that's a mighty nice accomplishment to put on his resume, Holt has his sights set on a much, much bigger prize — the coveted State Am championship — in this weekend's 116th renewal of the oldest continuous golf tournament in the world.
"It's nice to have," Holt said of his medalist victory, "but most of anything I want to win match play. It's nice to be the medalist, but now it's a new tournament and I've got to get my focus back.
"Today I played a little more conservative, hitting my 3-wood and 3-irons off tees and trying to give myself looks (at birdies). But at the same time, par wasn't a bad score.
"(In Wednesday's match play) I guess it'll be a little more seeing what your opponent does, but also being a little more aggressive and trying to make a few more birdies," said Holt, who reached the match-play semifinals in last year's State Am and is counting on that positive experience to continue to prepare him for this year's event.
And after firing that first-round 64, he just tried to do a little more of the same in Tuesday's second round.
"Basically I just followed the same process, took it one shot at a time, and just whatever happened happened," he said. "I just kinda accepted all the results.
"Today I was just scrambling pretty good. I was chipping and putting really well, and that really helped. I didn't have too many balls off my irons but, whenever I did, I got 'em up and down and I didn't make a bogey.
"I made more putts yesterday. I putted really well (at Valley View on Monday); I hit the ball a little bit better, too, to give myself a few more better looks," Holt said.
BYU golfer Tommy Higham and another former BYU golfer, Devon Purser, who's now playing for Weber State, shared second place in the medalist race at 8-under 134.
Higham, who's 24 years old and a junior-to-be at BYU — "I'm an old junior," he admitted, having served an LDS Church mission to Australia — turned in a sparkling 4-under-par round of 66 on Tuesday at OGCC.
That, coupled with his 68 on Monday at Valley View, put him at 6-under 134 after the medal play portion of the tournament. Higham had a couple of bogeys, on Nos. 3 and 17, but he also sank three putts of 20-plus feet, including one to save par, to qualify him for match play for the second straight year.
"I've just been putting really well the past couple months," Higham said. "And so I was making all my putts. ... I think I just knew my game, rather than I was hitting it good. I just knew exactly where the ball was going to go."
Higham, who played the Ogden Country Club course seven years ago in the Junior America's Cup tournament, said he "just felt really comfortable and I really like the layout.
"I didn't really think about (being the medalist)," he said. "I was just trying to play golf and was thinking more about just getting in a good position for match play. ... I didn't really think about it. I just wanted to finish well because I've been putting well and my dad (Jerry) was on the bag (caddying), so I wanted to finish well for him.
"It was really my putting. I was in the fairway off the tee and then I just had a lot of chances for birdies. And I just made my putts," said Higham, who switched putters about a month ago and has found his stroke on the greens ever since.
And now he's gearing up for the gruelling match-play portion of the tourney, which gets underway Wednesday for a field of 64 medal-play survivors.
"I love match play," said Higham, who dropped his opening match in last year's State Am tournament. "It's my favorite. I like going out there and not having to worry about a score and just playing your opponent.
"It's just a putting contest — and I love putting. It's always been my thing is putting. That's the only thing, I think, that's ever really set me apart from anybody else is my putting."
Purser, a former Syracuse High golfer who transferred to Weber State from BYU and thus redshirted the last collegiate golf season, shot his second straight round of 67 on Tuesday.
"It went good, about the same as yesterday," Purser said. "I played the par-3s really well. With the two par-5s being par-4s (for State Am play), it makes it a lot tougher. But I hung in there and shot a 67, so just 3 under.
"But I hit the ball really well. I hit a lot of fairways, just like yesterday, and it was a lot of fun.
"I obviously need to make more putts," he said. "Yesterday I should've made a lot more putts than I did, and today as well. But these greens are really tough and then late in the day they get a little spiked up, so it was good."
Purser has played the OGCC course plenty of times, especially since transferring to Weber State, but "we don't play it in 95-degree weather very often," he said as he prepares to try and keep it rolling for match play.
"I haven't had the best record in the State Am," Purser said, "so it's just kinda see who you play and just show up and play some golf. It can go either way, and I know how that goes. But I feel great about my game, but at the same time, it's match play. ... And this course plays different every day."
Next in line at 5-under 137 was Tanner Alder, followed by Kurt Owen at 139. Mitchell Schow checked in at 2-under 140, and six golfers — Kalin Peterson, David Jennings, Jeffrey Jolley, Jason Hargett, Eldon Richter and John Owen (who fired a 65 on Tuesday) — were tied at 141.
Defending champion Cole Ogden, who shot a 1-over-par 71 Monday at the OGCC course — a round that was hampered by a triple-bogey on the par-4 13th hole — struggled to a 77 on Tuesday at Valley View course in Layton. But, by virtue of winning last year, he'll open defense of his State Am title Wednesday in the opening round of match play, which will trim the field from 64 to 32 golfers and continues through Saturday.
The 64 match-play qualifiers and their scores following the 36-hole medal play portion of the 116th annual Utah State Amateur men's championship played Monday and Tuesday at the par-70 Ogden Golf and Country Club and par-72 Valley View courses:
132 —Jacob Holt.
134 —Tommy Higham, Devon Purser.
137 —Tanner Alde.
139 — Kurt Owen.
140 — Mitchell Schow.
141 — Kalin Peterson, David Jennings, Jeffrey Jolley, Jason Hargett, Eldon Richter, John Owen.
142 — Marty Jacks, Kai Ruiz, Austin Banz, Seokwon Jeon, Justin Shluker, Nic Booth.
143 — John Harris, Craig Wilson, J.T. Timmons, Luke Crapo, C.J. Lee, Jason Gates, Dan Horner, Jon Wright, Reed Nielsen.
144 — Preston Richards, Shon Woodland, Danny Hafen, Kirk Siddens, Dane Nelson, David Booth, Brady Stanger, Rhett Rasmussen, Christian Jensen.
145 — Thomas Young, Colton Dallimore, Jaece Stokes, Hayden Christensen, Ryan Sarlo, Aaron Yeates, Mike Jurca, Brandon Hargett.
146 — Mike Jorgensen, Christopher Carter, Carl Jensen, Nick Nelson, Carson Park, Glen Spencer, Chris Hermansen, Jonathon Thomas, Dane Rosa.
147 — Cannon Randall, Jesse Clark, Brock Stanger, Dylan Chugg, Mark Mortensen, Andrew Cottle, Nick Griego, Bubba Hall, Bob Mitchell, John Lindsay (NOTE: Wyatt Burton and Joshua Lillywhite, who also shot scores of 147, were eliminated in a 12-man playoff for the last 10 match-play spots).
Wednesday's Utah State Am match-play pairings
Wednesday's first-round, match-play pairings for the Utah State Amateur men's golf championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club (seedings in parentheses):
7:30 a.m.—(1) Cole Ogden vs. (64) Bubba Hall.
7:38—(32) Kirk Siddens vs. (33) David Booth.
7:46—(16) Nic Booth vs. (49) Carl Jensen.
7:54—(17) Austin Banz vs. (48) Jonathon Thomas.
8:02—(8) Jeffrey Jolley vs. (57) Nick Griego.
8:10—(25) Jon Wright vs. (40) Brandon Hargett.
8:18—(9) John Owen vs. (56) John Lindsay.
8:26—(24) Jason Gates vs. (41) Mike Jurca.
8:34—(4) Tommy Higham vs. (61) Andrew Cottle.
8:42—(29) Rhett Rasmussen vs. (36) Brady Stanger.
8:50—(13) Jason Hargett vs. (52) Glen Spencer.
8:58—(20) J.T. Timmons vs. (45) Colton Dallimore.
9:06—(5) Tanner Alder vs. (60) Cannon Randall.
9:14—(28) Luke Crapo vs. (37) Shon Woodland.
9:22—(12) Kalin Peterson vs. (53) Nick Nelson.
9:30—(21) C.J. Lee vs. (44) Jaece Stokes.
9:38—(2) Jacob Holt vs. (63) Dylan Chugg.
9:46—(31) Christian Jensen vs. (34) Dane Nelson.
9:54—(15) Kai Ruiz vs. (50) Mike Jorgensen.
10:02—(18) Seokwon Jeon vs. (47) Dane Rosa.
10:10—(7) Mitchell Schow vs. (58) Brock Stanger.
10:18—(26) Reed Nielsen vs. (39) Thomas Young.
10:26—(10) Eldon Richter vs. (55) Jesse Clark.
10:34—(23) Dan Horner vs. (42) Ryan Sarlo.
10:42—(3) Devon Purser vs. (62) Mark Mortensen.
10:50—(30) Danny Hafen vs. (35) Preston Richards.
10:58—(14) Justin Shluker vs. (51) Chris Hermansen.
11:06—(19) Marty Jacks vs. (46) Carson Park.
11:14—(6) Kurt Owen vs. (59) Bob Mitchell.
11:22—(27) Craig Wilson vs. (38) Aaron Yeates.
11:30—(11) David Jennings vs. (54) Christopher Carter.
11:38—(22) John Harris vs. (43) Hayden Christensen.