For two years, Shaun Jepsen has had a difficult time cracking the regular rotation for the BYU golf team, rarely being among the five players who play in college tournaments.
He had no difficulty at all, however, defeating 32 of the best professionals and amateurs Monday at the U.S. Open local qualifying tournament at Park Meadows Country Club in Park City.The 23-year-old Jepsen fired a 4-under-par 68 under cool and wet conditions to earn medalist honors and move to the next stage of qualifying next month in Denver. If he survives the sectional qualifying, he'll find himself in the U.S. Open June 18-21 at San Francisco's Olympic Club.
Two others who qualified Monday are Troy Watkins, an assistant at East Bay Golf Club and longtime PGA Tour regular Keith Clearwater.
Watkins fired a 71, while Clearwater shot a 72 and then defeated Sandy's Steve Schneiter and BYU golfer Manuel Merizalde, an 18-year-old from Colombia, in a sudden-death playoff.
Clearwater, who has two victories with more than $2 million in earnings on the PGA Tour, sank a 22-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to earn the spot in the sectional. Clearwater, who lives in Orem, lost his PGA Tour card and only plays in a few PGA tournaments each year.
"I'm really excited," said Jepsen, who will be a junior for the golf team next year. "It was fun playing against the top professionals and amateurs."
Jepsen had a hot putter all day as he shot a 4-under 32 on the front, including a 20-footer at No. 6 and a 40-footer at No. 7. On the back side, he made a pair of bogeys but came back with birdies at 16 and 17, where he chipped in from 20 feet.
Four golfers finished a shot out of the playoff with 73s - Jimmy Blair, Brian Medley, Dave DeSantis and Kim Thompson.