MIDWAY — For the second straight year, the Utah State Amateur final will feature teenager Preston Summerhays against a college senior from outside the state of Utah.
Last year, Summerhays defeated Kyler Dunkle, a senior-to-be at the University of Utah who hailed from Colorado. This year, Summerhays will be taking on Chase Lansford, a senior-to-be at Utah State University, who grew up in Texas.
The 16-year-old Summerhays won two more matches Friday to advance to his second consecutive State Am final, while the 24-year-old Lansford also knocked off a pair of opponents Friday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
The two will meet in a scheduled 36-hole final Saturday at 7:30 a.m. on Soldier Hollow’s Gold Course.
Summerhays, who survived by the skin of his teeth in Thursday’s round of 16 match when he sank a testy par putt at the final hole, knocked off Southern Utah golfer Jake Vincent 3 and 2 in the morning and came back to beat Elijah Turner, who will play for the BYU golf team this fall, 1 up.
Lansford won both of his matches 1 up, edging Zane Brownrigg, an Ohioan who is spending summer in Utah, in his morning quarterfinal, then outlasting BYU senior Spencer Dunaway in the afternoon.
“Absolutely, to this point this is the highlight,” Lansford said about his career golf highlights. “I’m very overwhelmed about making the finals. I didn’t expect to be here, but I’m overly excited.”
Lansford came back from a two-hole deficit to tie the match at the ninth hole and went ahead with a par at No. 12. The match turned on a pair of chip shots he made at holes 13 and 15.
The par-4 13th was shortened to 317 yards in the afternoon and both players went for the green. Lansford went slightly long and right, while Dunaway hit a spectacular drive that ended up just 7 feet short of the hole.
It looked like a sure win for Dunaway, but Lansford chipped up within gimme distance and when Dunaway’s eagle putt slid past, Lansford kept his lead.
He lost it at the next hole when he hit a poor drive out of bounds right to put the match back to all square. But at 15, Dunaway seemingly had another advantage after Lansford hit what he thought was a perfect wedge shot just long and Dunaway had a 15-foot birdie putt.
Lansford hit what he called “probably the best chip I’ve ever hit in my life” landing the ball perfectly and rolling it within inches of the hole. Then Dunaway missed his birdie try and the hole was halved. Instead of Dunaway being 2 up, it was still tied and Lansford went ahead for good at the par-5 16th when Dunaway’s drive went in the rough and it took him a couple of tries to get out.
Summerhays led his match the whole way against Turner, a 20-year-old who returned from a church mission to Ghana less than a month ago. He was 3 up after 12 holes, but Turner came back with birdies at 13 and 15 to cut the margin to one. Then at the par-5 16th, it looked like Turner would tie the match when Summerhays tee ball was lost in the rough and he had to take a two-stroke penalty.
However, Summerhays hit a spectacular sand shot from 60 feet to within 10 feet and sank it for bogey and when Turner couldn’t get down in two from the edge of the green, Summerhays halved the hole and kept his 1 up margin. Pars on the next two gave him the victory.
Describing what happened on 16, Summerhays said, “Suddenly the pressure switched to him because he thought he was going to win the hole. I made the putt for the switcheroo.”
Lansford and Summerhays formally met for the first time Friday morning before their respective matches, but Lansford knows a lot about Summerhays.Comment on this story
“Preston is an unbelievable player,” he said. “I know him through all tournaments he plays and through Instagram. I know his game well from watching his dad (Boyd) on social media I think everybody at this point knows Preston Summerhays’ game.”
He’ll find out first-hand about it Saturday morning and see if he can be the one to keep him from winning a second straight State Amateur title.
Chase Lansford def. Zane Brownrigg 1 up
Spencer Dunaway def. Steven Croft 4 & 3
Preston Summerhays def. Jake Vincent 3 & 2
Elijah Turner def. Cameron Tucker 3 & 2
Lansford def. Dunaway 1 up
Summerhays def. Turner 1 up
Saturday 7:30 a.m.
Chase Lansford vs. Preston Summerhays