Former SUU golfer Jacob Holt takes medalist honors into opening round of State Amateur match play

Published: Tuesday, July 8 2014 9:30 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, July 9 2014 8:16 p.m. MDT

"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.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com

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.

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