When the Men's State Amateur tournament is played next month at Alpine Country Club it should feature the top 150 amateurs in the state. That's the theory, anyway.
However, several top amateurs, even some who rank in the top 20 or 30 in the state, won't be playing. And it's not because they didn't want to. They just didn't qualify.Eddie Fryatt, one of the regulars on the BYU golf team this past year, won't be there. Last week he shot a 77 at Wasatch Mountain, where a 75 was needed.
David Summerhays won the prestigious Salt Lake City Amateur June 3 but couldn't qualify three days later at Valley View. He missed by a stroke when he triple-bogeyed the last hole for a 79.
BYU golfer Jason Thomas missed by one shot after firing a 77 at Murray Parkway.
Others who missed in the qualifying rounds this year were former semifinalists Mike Stone and Chuck O'Brien, and State Am regulars Tom Bashford and Garth Ford.
"It's kind of tough not to make it," said O'Brien. "(Qualifying) is one of my least favorite days of the year. I'm totally disappointed.
O'Brien has been one of the area's top amateurs for years, and he just completed his collegiate career at the University of Utah. Three years ago at Jeremy Ranch he made it all the way to the State Am semifinals. In last year's State Am at Riverside, he came back from a poor first day with a second-day 66 to tie for low honors. With a second day of qualifying in the regionals, he probably would have made it to Alpine this year.
However, despite being disappointed, O'Brien isn't complaining.
"I don't see many other options for the UGA," he said. "In golf you always have to qualify. It's do or die."
Some golfers have suggested a second day of qualifying. But that would be difficult with five qualifiers already, involving nearly 500 golfers.
"We hate to lose someone like Chuck O'Brien, who probably deserves to be there," said Keith Hansen of the UGA board.
"It's one of the problems we have," said UGA executive director Joe Watts. "That's golf."
LEAVING BYU: Fryatt, after a strong freshman season at the BYU, won't be playing in Provo next year. And he's not going on an LDS mission. The Las Vegas native is transferring to UNLV, which has become a national power since Coach Dwain Knight took over three years ago.
Coach Karl Tucker is disappointed, but Fryatt's departure won't leave a huge hole as the defections of Brent Franklin and Steve Schneiter did three years ago. The Cougars return the rest of this year's WAC champion team and will add returning missionaries Brad Sutterfield and Eric Rustand along with incoming freshmen Joseph Summerhays and David Summerhays.
PGA-BOUND: This week's local contingent at the U.S. Open was down from recent years, but the PGA Tournament at Alabama's Shoal Creek will be well-represented by the Beehive State in August. There are already a half dozen golfers with local ties who are qualified for the final of golf's four "majors."
Utahns Kim Thompson and Jimmy Blair qualified at the PGA Club Players Championship last fall by finishing among the low 40. Also qualifying were Jeff Thomsen, a Boise resident who plays many Utah tournaments every summer, and Mike Gove, the former Weber State golfer who played the PGA Tour for a brief time. Another Utah pro, Bruce Summerhays, missed qualifying by a stroke.
From the PGA Tour, Mike Reid and Dan Forsman are already in and several more golfers with local ties, such as Jay Don Blake, Richard Zokol, Rick Fehr and Keith Clearwater, could end up making the PGA field if they move up the money list far enough.