FARMINGTON — Jason Moon remembers the morning of Dec. 1 last year all too well.
He had returned from a trip the night before and his phone started ringing off the hook first thing in the morning and he was told to get to the golf course right away.
The windstorm that had blown in during the night had wreaked havoc at the Oakridge Country Club where Moon has been the course superintendent for the past eight years.
As he toured the course, he could see trees down everywhere.
"I counted 250 that morning and by the time we got back out in the evening and it was up to 380," he said.
You'd think such devastation would have a lasting effect on the golf course, but when the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open gets under way Friday morning, it will hardly be noticeable to some and shouldn't make much difference from past tournaments at Oakridge.
Starting at 7:30 a.m., 156 golfers will tee off in the annual tournament, which pays $20,000 to the winner with an overall purse of $125,000.
This year's field will include 10 former champions led by two-time winner Clay Ogden, who won last year's Utah Open by a stroke over Zen Brown and James Drew.
The headliner for the tournament is former Masters champion Mike Weir, who has lived in Utah for nearly two decades since graduating from BYU. Weir is coming back from an elbow injury that has caused him to lose his exempt status on the PGA Tour and he hopes to gain some confidence by playing well this week.
Weir will tee off at 8:50 a.m. with former BYU teammate Ryan Rhees and Matthew Johnson.
Ogden, who won the tournament in 2007 as well as last year, tees off at 1:50 p.m. with 1981 champion Jimmy Blair and Brett Wayment.
Other former champions playing this week include four Utah natives Boyd Summerhays (2003), Pete Stone (2006), Kim Thompson (2001) and Mike Malaska (1974), along with Nick Mason (2010), Nathan Lashley (2009), Todd Demsey (1998) and Jerry Sneve (1995).
As for the golf course, which first opened in 1956, Moon said last winter's storm may have been a blessing in disguise.
"That day it happened was so devastating, but now that the course is put back together, it's not so bad," he said. "This may have been for the better. It's made the golf course a little easier to take care of and brought some sunlight and air to some places that haven't had it for many years."
Moon said holes 1 and 3 "took a beating" and many trees between 10 and 18 were knocked down as well as trees behind 5 and 12. But the changes won't affect the golfers' scores this week.
"I think it's mostly aesthetics," he said. "You are supposed to play down the center of the fairway, so it won't affect the good players who hit down the middle."
Other top professionals in the tournament include last year's runners-up, Brown and Drew, Steve Schneiter, Dustin Pimm, Chris Moody, Joe Summerhays and the Finau brothers, Tony and Gipper.
Top amateurs include Zac Blair, Devon Purser, Dan Horner, Nick Drost, Jordan Hammer, Justin Keiley, Cole Ogden and 14-year-old Rhett Rasmussen.
After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties and the final round will be played Sunday.
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