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State Am becomes a `numbers game’

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It didn't take long for the talk to start at the State Amateur golf tournament Wednesday at Riverside Country Club.

The talk was about numbers and, no, the golfers weren't discussing the number 100, which they've already heard ad nauseum, this being the 100th Utah State Amateur.Rather, the numbers being tossed around were 146, 147 and 148.

One of those numbers was likely to be the cut number after Thursday's second round of medal play, which pares the field of 144 down to just 32 for match play.

The golfers who shot 69 or in the low 70s had reason to smile and breathe a little easier heading into the second round. Those who shot in the high 70s wore worried looks as they contemplated how to come up with a low score to sneak in under the cut.

And the 43 guys who shot in the 80s and 90s? Well, there's always next year.

The main idea of the 36 holes of medal play is to shoot a low enough score to make it into match play. Only 31 golfers plus defending champion Todd Barker will get the privilege.

The four golfers who shot 69s Wednesday - Kirk Bowler, Billy Harvey, Dustin Volk and Garrett Hannig - are in the best shape to make the cut.

Three of the four are college golfers, while Bowler is a 44-year-old from Layton who turned pro for a few years before returning to the amateur ranks last year.

The 24-year-old Volk may be the oldest freshman in the country next year when he starts his career at Weber State. He also lives in Layton and works at the Davis Park Golf Course. He started off with a 25-foot birdie putt at the first hole and took off from there.

Harvey is a 19-year-old from Las Vegas, who was one of BYU's top players this year. He had made four birdies and two bogeys before even making a par, and he got as low as 5-under before falling back to 3-under with a pair of late bogeys.

Hannig hails from St. George and plays for the Southern Utah golf team, although he is contemplating transferring to Dixie College for a year and playing his final two years of collegiate golf elsewhere. He said he tried to hit fairways and "not make any mistakes" in his initial round.

Four golfers from the Salt Lake area are a stroke back at 70, including defending champion Barker, Steve Brinton, Ryan Job, Brint Peel.

Among the eight golfers at 71 are BYU golfer Jose Garrido, Weber State's Marty Jacks, Utah State's Chris Moody and recent Ute golfer John Owen. Others at 1-under include Taylor Jerman, Chris Dahlberg, Scott Hurst and Riverside club champion Steve Watts.

Jim Jensen, Casey Beck, Bryan Dalton, Bryce Nixon, David Booth and Ryan Oldroyd all came in at even-par 72.

Former State Am champions struggled - two-time winner Arlen Peacock and 1985 winner Steve Borget both shot 78s, while three-time champ Doug Bybee had a 77. Jason Wight, the 1995 champion, willlikely need to beat his first-day score of 74 to make the cut.