Four golfers got a head start Wednesday on winning medalist honors at the State Amateur golf tournament by shooting 3-under-par 69s at Oakridge Country Club.
By Thursday evening, a medalist will be crowned at the 90th annual State Amateur golf tournament, an honor second only to winning the match play portion of the tourney played Friday through Sunday.Among the four golfers at the top of the leaderboard is defending champion Bruce Brockbank. The 24-year-old Brockbank, who just completed his collegiate career at BYU, was joined by Jack Kennally, a 48-year-old food broker; Jerry Rose, a 29-year-old former State Am finalist; and Brett Taylor, a 20-year-old who just completed his sophomore season at Northwestern University.
While all were pleased to be leading after the first day of medal play, all agreed with Kennally, who said, "My No. 1 priority is to get into match play."
To get into match play, a golfer needs to be among the 32 low scores at the conclusion of Thursday's round. Matches begin Friday with two rounds scheduled and two more on Saturday. By Sunday, just two golfers will be left for a 36-hole final.
The original 150-man field was reduced to 83 by Wednesday night as a score of 77 was needed to stay alive. A two-day score of approximately 148 will be needed to get into match play.
Brockbank was the only one assured of making it into match play since as defending champion he is exempted. Nevertheless, he'd like to add a medalist crown to the one he captured in 1983.
On opening day, he started fast with four birdies on the first seven holes, hit a mid-round slump with two straight bogeys, then finished strong with birds at 15 and 16.
"I feel confident now and I'm putting well," said Brockbank, who has won three tournaments this year, including the Tri-City, Art City and Canyon Hills events. "I'm just going to try and play like I've been playing and hopefully I won't beat myself."
Kennally, a native of Boston who moved to Utah from northern California 14 years ago, called his round "very boring," as he made four birdies and a lone bogey at No. 15 when he three-putted. Kennally is a regular at Hidden Valley and says he is playing the best golf of his life.
If his round was boring, then Taylor's must have been a real yawner as he made 15 pars and three birdies. Taylor made the quarterfinals last year.
"I'm just thinking about getting into match play," he said. "My goal is to win the tournament."
Rose lost last year in the first round in his first State Am since he lost in the 1980 finals to Erich Gott at Riverside. In between, the former BYU golfer played in the Idaho State Amateur three times, never finishing lower than sixth. He plays out of Hidden Valley, where he often golfs with Kennally.
Among those lurking close behind the four co-leaders at 70 were Todd Barker, Brad Sutterfield and Chris Dahlberg. Barker has won two straight Salt Lake City Amateur titles, Sutterfield just completed a successful freshman season at BYU and Dahlberg was the State Am medalist two years ago.
Three golfers were at 71, including University of Utah's Doug Roberts, ex-Utah State golfer Chris Jones and 16-year-old Joseph Summerhays, the son of Wasatch Mountain pro Bruce Summerhays.
Among the notable golfers who missed the Wednesday cut were Utah long-driving champ Kurt Moore (78), two-time champion Arlen Peacock (78), U. of U. golfer Chuck O'Brien (79), Central Region Qualifying champion Larry Buecher (83) and Northern Region Qualifying champion George Rackham (87).