Contrary to some folks' perceptions, Rick Roberts doesn't spend all day playing the Tri City Golf Course where he works as an assistant professional. Occasionally he gets out on the course to play, perhaps every other day.
Saturday afternoon, Roberts put his knowledge of the tough Tri City layout to good use by carding a 7-under par 65 to win the First Security Bank Open. Roberts, who pocketed $1,500 for the win, tied the course record set by Jimmy Blair a decade ago, in defeating amateur Jeff Hale by a stroke.Following his victory, Roberts acknowledged he has a bit of a home course advantage at Tri City.
"I know where to hit them and where not to hit them," he said.
Kim Thompson, winner of last week's Provo Open, and amateur Todd Barker tied for third with 67s, while five pros, Blair, Mark Owen, Chris Jones, Roy Christensen and Henry White, all shot 69.
For the 26-year-old Roberts, it was the first win of his career. Roberts turned pro a year out of Murray High School and has worked at Tri City ever since. After being just a "mediocre" golfer as a junior, he has steadily improved until he has "really progressed this past year."
Roberts plays regularly with former PGA Tour regular Jim Nelford, who lives in nearby Highland City, and credits Nelford with helping improve his game.
Usually a 65 includes some spectacular shots, but Roberts says he was just consistent, driving and putting well and hitting his irons close. His longest putt of the day was an 18-foot birdie at No. 4 and most of the rest of his seven birdies were under 10 feet. He didn't make any bogeys.
Roberts says his confidence has been up ever since the Rose Park Open a month ago when he shot a 66. That would have tied him for first among the pros, but he was penalized four shots for having an extra club in his bag and had to take a 70.
Hale, who plays out of nearby Alpine Country Club, has been the hottest amateur on the local circuit this year, winning three tournaments and contending at last week's Provo Open. His 66 included seven birdies and a single bogey.