Perhaps Jimmy Blair would have won the Rose Park Open Saturday if he hadn't been so nice as to help fellow professional Matt Johnson with his golf swing earlier this spring.
Johnson and Blair both shot 7-under-par 65s at the Rose Park Golf Course, but Johnson won the first-place trophy and $1,200 prize with a birdie on the third playoff hole.It turns out that Johnson, a 32-year-old assistant pro at Eaglewood G.C. has recently been getting some teaching tips from Blair, one of Utah's top golfers for the past two decades.
"He's been coaching me, helping me with my full swing," said Johnson. "He's really helped me a lot."
While Johnson hit the ball well all day, it was his putter that did most of the damage in the annual 18-hole tournament.
Johnson, a former WAC individual champion for the University of Utah, made seven birdies, including a 20-footer at No. 15. In the playoff he had to sink a testy four-footer on the first hole after Blair two-putted from 20 feet. Then at the third hole, after Blair missed from 15 feet, Johnson rolled home a "dead straight" putt from eight feet.
The best shot of the playoff, however, was Johnson's blast from a greenside bunker to within 18 inches after Blair seemingly had the advantage.
"The course is in great shape and the greens are real puttable," said Johnson. "My putting is coming around."
Johnson was happy to play off rather than share first place like some tournaments do.
"I hate that. If you play, you might as well play for first," he said.
Five players finished a shot behind Johnson and Blair at 66, including Eagelwood assistant Greg Stimpson and amateurs Boyd Summerhays, Scott Fairbanks, Kurt Jamison and Ryan Job. Four amateurs came in with 68s - Gregg Oliphant, Scott Larsen, Jeff Hale and Dave Hedderman.
Chris Jones and Kim Thompson were joined by amateurs Steve Caputo, Steve Brinton, Steve Campbell and Ken Cromwell at 69.
Joey Bonsignore won the senior division with a 71, a shot better than Dick Peacock, who faltered after shooting a 31 on the front side and finished with a 72.
Lester Perry was A Flight winner with a 72.