The main idea of Wednesday's golf tournament at Bonneville Golf Course was to qualify 45 golfers from the 175-man field into next month's State Amateur.

As it turned out, 54 golfers qualified in the South Central qualifying tournament with scores of 76 or better. But the major drama involved the race for medalist honors, which earned the winner a large trophy and a berth in the Tournament of Champions later in the summer.Five golfers finished with scores of 2-under-par 70, and the least likely of the five ended up the winner.

Dave Carter, who works as a starter at Glendale Golf Course, outlasted four, well, three others in a sudden-death playoff that went two holes.

Greg Slack, an 18-year-old who will be a sophomore on the University of Utah golf team this year, and Brian Giacomo, a 29-year-old regular on the local amateur circuit, were both eliminated on the first playoff hole when Carter and local physician Kurt Bernhisel both birdied.

Then on the second hole, Carter rolled in a three-foot putt seconds after Bernhisel, a former City Amateur champ, missed a putt from two inches farther out on the same line.

Oh, and the fifth golfer who shot 70? That was Larry Buecher, who played in the morning and was called an hour before the playoff to come back to Bonneville. Unfortunately Buecher never made it back due to car trouble.

For the 26-year-old Carter, winning medalist honors was the highlight of his golf career. In fact, his 70 was the lowest score he's ever shot. And just last year his handicap stood at nine. But he's lowered it to four this year thanks to help from Glendale teaching pro Bob Jensen.

Carter got off to a slow start and was 1-over after 10 holes. Then he ran off four straight birdies from holes 14 to 17 before finishing with a bogey.

"I'm playing more confident now, so who knows what I can do," said Carter.

Ironically, the guy he beat on the last playoff hole, Bernhisel, was a starter at Glendale when the course opened 17 years ago.

The next State Amateur qualifying tournament will be Friday when the North Central Region qualifying tournament is played at Bountiful Golf Course.