This year the Novell Provo Open upped its purse considerably and expanded its field to include professionals from outside Utah.
Perhaps no golfer came as far as Scotland native David Kirkpatrick, who traveled all the way from his home in Florida to chase the $10,000 first prize.The 26-year-old former University of Alabama golfer takes a three-shot lead into the final round of the 54-hole tournament after firing a sparkling 8-under-par 63 Friday at East Bay Golf Course.
That gave Kirkpatrick a two-day total of 130, three shots better than five golfers, including first-round leaders Steve Schneiter and Warren Schutte, who both shot 69 Friday. Others at 133 are ex-University of Utah golfer Jon Wright, Entrada pro Brad Hansen and St. George pro Brett Sampson.
Another stroke back at 134 are defending champ Milan Swilor, Monty Montgomery and Ken Carpenter. Two-time Provo Open champ Jeff Thomsen, ex-BYU golfer Eric Rustand and Nike Tour golfer Harry Rudolph are within striking distance at 135.
Kirkpatrick came to Provo at the invitation of tournament chairman Karl Tucker, the former BYU golf coach. Kirkpatrick likes Provo, having played in the Nike Utah Classic the past two years.
"I was just trying to find a place to play this week and since I like it here I decided to come," said Kirkpatrick.
Actually his last visit to Provo was a frustrating one for Kirkpatrick. He shot a 64 in the first round to take the lead only to follow it with a 79 and miss the cut.
"I went from the high of my golf career to the low," said Kirkpatrick, who was burned by a 10 on one hole at Riverside Country Club.
In Friday's round, Kirkpatrick started thinking of a 59 after getting to 9-under par after 15 holes. He birdied 1, 2, 5, 10, 11 and 15 and eagled No. 9 with an 8-footer. All he needed was three more birdies to break 60, but instead he picked up a couple of pars and his only bogey of the day at No. 17.
Kirkpatrick says he has been playing well lately, having won his first professional tournament (a mini-tour event in Florida worth $3,000) and winning a U.S. Open local qualifying.
Schutte, the South Africa native who won the Utah Open two years ago, and Sandy's Schneiter, both had their putting problems, following up on their 64s of the day before.
"I played about the same as yesterday, but I just didn't make any putts today," said Schutte, who lives in Las Vegas.
Schneiter got to three under after 10 holes, but saw some putts lip out down the stretch and could only finish at two under for the day.
The leaders will tee off at noon today. The field was cut to approximately 85 golfers with the cut for the pros coming at 147 and at 154 for amateurs.