Competing as two of Utah's top amateurs over the past few years, Todd Barker and Mark Domm have become good friends. Yet despite their successes throughout the summer, both have been underachievers when it comes to the biggie of all amateur events, the Utah State Amateur.
Friday both Barker and Domm survived a pair of tough matches at Park Meadows Golf Course to advance to the quarterfinals this morning, along with six other golfers. And guess who they'll play?Yep, each other.
They'll tee it up at 8:08 a.m. for the right to advance to the semifinals in the afternoon.
The 39-year-old Barker defeated Sharm Newbold 2 up in his morning match and came back to edge Robin Bramlette 2 and 1 in the afternoon.
Domm, a decade younger at 29, knocked off State Am veteran Steve Brinton 1 up in the morning before stopping Steve Wallock 3 and 2 in the afternoon to make the quarterfinals for the first time.
Both Barker and Domm were happy for each other, but friendships will be put aside this morning.
"I'll just play as I normally do," said Domm. "I'll still root for him, but I'll root for myself more."
Barker who has made the quarters three times, but never beyond them, said he doesn't feel any extra pressure to add the State Am to his large collection of trophies.
"I do early in the qualifying and first couple of rounds, but I feel pretty good now," he said.
The Barker-Domm matchup is just one of four interesting matchups set for this morning.
In one corner, defending State Am champion Brad Sutterfield will go against Dana Nelson, who is the closest thing to a Cinderella story among this year's elite eight.
In another, Utah State golfer Brett Wayment, who claimed medalist honors Thursday, will face Jason Thomas, who recently completed his career at BYU.
The other quarterfinal features a pair of well-tested amateurs, St. George's Randy Robertson, who won the Salt Lake City Amateur a few weeks ago, and Layton's Ben Maddox, who recently captured the West Bountiful Amateur.
Nelson is probably the most surprising of the eight survivors. Although he played for the University of Utah in the mid-1980s, he basically took off a couple of years from competitive golf while he got settled with marriage and a job.
After knocking off BYU golfer Jason Wight in the morning, Nelson found himself three holes down to University of Utah golfer Greg Slack after nine holes. "He kind of took the pressure off me when he won three of the first four holes," said Nelson. "I just kept grinding on the back nine and finally caught him."
Nelson won 15, tied 16 with a birdie, then eagled 17 to tie the match with a 20-foot putt. Slack needed a testy 3-footer at 18 to stay alive and both players just missed birdie tries at the first playoff hole.
Then at No. 11, the second playoff hole, Slack hit his second shot long into a bunker and when Nelson sank a 3-footer for par, the match was over.
Nelson's upset win prevented a rematch of last year's final between Sutterfield and Slack.
About the most excitement for Sutterfield Friday came when he nearly lost a lucky ball mark - a Japanese gold coin - he's used for three years, including last year's State Am. It fell out of his pocket when he was riding back in a cart after his afternoon victory. Fortunately a tournament official found it on a cart path and returned it to a grateful Sutterfield.
In the morning Sutterfield beat Ron Eliison 4 and 3 and then came back to beat Steven Linck 3 and 2.
"I'm playing just as well as last year - I just need to get my mental game going," he said.
Maddox, one of the "old men" in the tournament at 37, said he is playing "the best I have all year." He stopped Randy Price 5 and 4 in the morning, then got by Mark Owen 3 and 2 in the afternoon.
Robertson, who just turned 27 Wednesday, cruised past Bill Moseley 4 and 2 in the morning and was 3-up at the turn against Tetsuya Tange in the afternoon. Then his driver went south and he lost three of the next four holes. But he recovered to win the next three holes and the match.
Wayment, whose 66 Thursday gave him medalist honors, won the first five holes of his morning match against Jack Rupe and coasted to a 7 and 5 victory. But Midway's Brandon Bonner gave him all he could handle pushing him to two playoff holes, before Wayment won with a par.
Thomas was looking at elimination against Rich Rawdin when he found himself four down after nine holes. But he rallied to win six of the next eight holes, including birdies at 13, 15 and 17.
Barker said he didn't play well all day, hitting several bunkers and lakes and making bogeys. Luckily for him, his opponents didn't play any better.
However when it counted Barker came through with some great shots. After Bramlette, who knocked off Ron Hitchcock in the morning, made a 15-footer for birdie at No. 15, Barker sank one from a foot shorter to halve the hole.
Then at 16, Barker hit a 9-iron within 18 inches for a tap-in birdie and at 17 put a 7-wood onto the green in two and two-putted for the winning birdie.
After this morning's quarterfinals, four golfers will compete in afternoon semifinals. The marathon will conclude Sunday when two golfers compete in a 36-hole finale.
State Am pairings
Brett Wayment vs. Jason Thomas, 8 a.m.
Mark Domm vs. Todd Barker, 8:08 a.m.
Brad Sutterfield vs. Dana Nelson, 8:16 a.m.
Ben Maddox vs. Randy Robertson, 8:24 a.m.
Wayment-Thomas winner vs. Domm-Barker winner, 1 p.m.
Sutterfield-Nelson winner vs. Maddox-Robertson winner, 1:08 p.m.