PROVO — After posting a solid 8-under-par 64 in Saturday morning’s round, defending champion Zahkai Brown vaulted into the lead at the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open. The only problem was first-day leader Patrick Fishburn hadn’t even teed off yet for his second round at Riverside Country Club.
By the time Fishburn finished his round some five hours later, Brown found himself not only out of the lead, but a whopping seven shots behind, after Fishburn matched his 64 score in the afternoon.
The BYU senior, who stands at 17-under-par 127, said he never really came close to making a bogey in nearly matching his first-round score. He takes a comfortable lead into Sunday’s final 18 holes when he tees off at 11:30 a.m. He's trying to become the first amateur to win the tournament since 2004 and just the fifth amateur in history.
“It felt good to finally follow up a low round with another low round,” said Fishburn, who led last year after two rounds when he went 62-71. “It was pretty similar to yesterday. I was hitting the driver pretty well and I’m putting pretty well. I haven’t made any bombs, but I’m making the putts that are 5 to 7 feet pretty consistently, so that helps a lot.”
Fishburn made six birdies and an eagle at No. 2 after his college coach Bruce Brockbank predicted he’d chip it in from 20 yards after he hit his drive pin-high to the right on the par-4 hole. Fishburn said he never had more than 2 feet for a par putt and missed just one green, No. 6, when he got behind a tree on his drive and chipped out just short of the green.
Three players, all professionals, are tied for second at 134 — Brown and a couple of northern California golfers, Eddie Olson and Luke Vivolo. They’ll be battling for the $20,000 first-place prize with several other pros, including 2014 champion B.J. Staten, Jesse Mueller, Ty Travis, Neil Johnson and Calum Hill at 135 and Utah’s Zac Blair, who is alone in 10th place at 136.
Those nine pros as well as two more players at 137 and three at 138 will all be battling it out for the top money and will need a poor round by Fishburn to claim the first-place trophy.
When asked about catching Fishburn, Brown wasn’t real confident, saying, “wow, seven shots, that’s a lot hopefully I can win the pros and take home the top prize.”
But last year, the 24-year-old from Colorado made up nine shots on Fishburn on the final day, shooting a 64 to Fishburn’s 73 and winning the tournament by one and Fishburn by three.
As for Sunday, Fishburn said he doesn’t play to play it safe, or any differently than he has been.
“No, I’ll just keep playing the exact same way I did today,” he said. “I’m most confident with my driver off the tee. I’ll keep playing like it’s a BYU practice round.”
Blair, who posted his second straight 68, is still in the running for the top pro prize and a long shot to win the whole thing. He’s rooting for his former Fremont High and BYU teammate Fishburn.
“He’s a good player. He’s playing well right now, and it’s good to see — it’s good for BYU, good for everything around here. Hopefully he can play good tomorrow.”
Olson, a 30-year-old former UNLV golfer, and Vivolo, a 24-year-old who played at Cal-Davis, played in the final two groups of the day to tie Brown at 10-under.
The cut was the same as last year, 2-over-par 146 with 62 golfers advancing for Sunday’s final round. Among the top local golfers are Salt Lake’s Tommy Sharp at 138, Cedar Hills’ Matt Baird at 139 and Riverside assistant pro Chris Moody at 140.
Spanish Oaks pro Ryan Rhees won the two-day senior sidebar with a 145 total and pocketed $750.
UTAH OPEN LEADERBOARD
Riverside Country Club Par-72
127 – a-Patrick Fishburn (63-64)
134 – Zahkai Brown (70-64), Eddie Olson (65-69), Luke Vivolo (68-66)
135 – B.J. Staten (69-66), Jesse Mueller (67-68), Ty Travis (66-69), Neil Johnson (68-67), Calum Hill (68-67)
136 – Zac Blair (68-68)
137 – Alex Chiarella (71-66), Gregor Main (68-69)
138 – Riley Arp (66-72), Tommy Sharp (73-65), Mitchel Carlson (68-70)
139 – Tele Wightman (70-69), Matt Baird (69-70), Austyn Carle (67-72),
140 – Chris Moody (71-69), Craig Hocknull (72-68), a-Blair Bursey (73-67), Pete Fernandez (70-70), a-Peter Kuest (71-69)
141 – Jere Pelletier (71-70), a-Rhett Rasmussen (70-71), Seokwun Jeon (71-70), Jordan Rodgers (72-69), Brandon Kida (70-71), Matthew Nolasco (74-67), Blake Cannon (67-74)
142 – James Drew (69-73), a-Oscar Maxfield (72-70), Dusty Fielding (71-71), Joe Parkinson 71-71), Chad Pettingill (70-72)
143 – Milo Lines (71-72), Phillip Reedy (73-70), Daryl Spivey (75-68), Sam Jandel (74-69), Jimmy Makloski (72-71), Derek Barron (74-69), Tyler Werorski (70-73), Davis Garner (72-71)
144 – Chad Hardy (72-72), Scott Smith (71-73)
145 – a-Cole Ponich (70-75), a-Zach Jones (75-70), Dean Wilson (72-73), Ryan Rhees (73-72), Pete Stone (73-72), a-Kelton Hirsch (77-68), a-CJ Lee (78-67), a-Jacob Boyce (75-70), Chip Wesley (73-72), Casey Fowles (75-70)
146 – Zach Johnson (75-71), Tracy Zobell (74-72), Jacob Holt (74-72), Jonathon Thomas (68-78), Kane Webber (73-73), Shawn Edwards (73-73), Steele DeWald (74-72)