The last time the U.S. Open was played at Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich., in 1985, Utah was well represented with six golfers in the 156-player field.
The Open is back at Oakland Hills this week, but the Utah contingent is considerably smaller than it was 11 years ago. Just one player with ties to the Beehive State - Provo's Dan Forsman - is playing this week.In 1985, two of the six with locals ties - Bob Betley and Tom Costello - were golfers who made it through local and regional qualifyings to make it to the U.S. Open. The others were Johnny Miller, who lived in Salt Lake at the time, Provo's Mike Reid and ex-BYU golfers Rick Fehr and Dick Zokol.
Twice since then, six golfers with Utah ties have competed at the U.S. Open - in 1989 and 1993. But the numbers have been dwindling as the local golfers have gotten older and the competition stiffer every year. And some players such as Orem's Keith Clearwater, didn't want to bother going through the qualifying to get to the Open.
The last time a Utah golfer made it out of local qualifying all the way to the Open was 1989 when then-amateur Eric Hogg made it back to Oak Hills in New York.
GOING PUBLIC: The last two qualifying tournaments for the Men's State Amateur will be played this week, Monday at Cedar Ridge and Wednesday at Wasatch Mountain following three last week. By Wednesday night, a field of around 150 will be set for the July 10-14 finals at Hobble Creek Golf Course.
A record number 660 golfers entered this year's State Am, even though the finals are being played on a real public golf course for the first time in 23 years. Usually the State Amateur is played at a country club, but this year, it's being played at the Hobble Creek course near Springville, which was ranked as the favorite golf course of Deseret News readers two years ago.
Although the State Am has been played at public-access courses such as Jeremy Ranch and Park Meadows in recent years, this will mark the first time since 1973, when it was played at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course, that the State Am will be contested at a true public course.
As for future State Ams, next year's will be played at Hill Air Force Base and the following year it will return to Riverside Country Club in Provo.
QUOTEWORTHY: Provo's Mike Reid on the frustrations of his inconsistent golf of late: "It's kind of like being in a boat. The front end starts to leak and when you get that patched up, then the back end starts to give way. Then the sides start to give in. Every day I don't know quite what to expect."
STRAY SHOTS: The 22nd annual First Security Pro-Am Open golf tournament will be played June 14-16 at Tri City Golf Course in American Fork. The pro-am is Friday with the tournament proper on Saturday and Sunday. First prize is $2,000. Matt Johnson is the defending champion . . . Women have a busy week with with an invitational at Davis Park on Wednesday, the Ogden City Amateur on Thursday and the Mick Riley Memorial on Friday . . . Junior golfers can still sign up for summer junior golf clinics at Bonneville and Nibley Park Golf Courses. Sessions will be held most weeks during the summer beginning Monday and continuing through Aug. 12. Call 483-5418 or 583-9513 for more information . . . The 1996 Utah State Long Drive Championship will be held June 26 at Mick Riley Golf Course with qualifying rounds from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the finals at 4:30 p.m. For the first time professionals will compete for a $1,000 first prize. Winners will compete in the Nike Utah Classic Long Drive Contest Sept. 10 at Riverside Country Club. The Long Drive Contests are sponsored by O'Doul's . . . The CEU Celebrity golf tournament will be Sept. 7 at Carbon Country Club.