A larger-than-usual contingent of Utah golfers -- golfers with Utah ties -- will be competing in this week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Four qualified in last week's sectional qualifying tournaments to join Draper resident Mike Weir, who was one of 70 exempt players, by virtue of finishing among the top 30 money-winners last year. Three former BYU golfers who were all teammates in 1979-80, Keith Clearwater, Bobby Clampett and Richard Zokol -- qualified at the sectional in Maryland, while Murray's Mike Borich, who played against that trio when he competed for Weber State in the late 1970s, qualified at Denver.Anybody who happens to have tickets to the Open will have an easy time following at least three of the golfers as Clearwater, Clampett and Weir will be playing in consecutive threesomes beginning at 8:40 a.m. MDT. Borich tees off three hours later at 11:30 a.m. MDT, while Zokol has a late tee time at 1:10 p.m.

Borich, who is playing in his first-ever U.S. Open, will play with a couple of nobodies in amateur Andrew Sanders of Florida and Kyle Blackman of Minnesota. He's excited about his first PGA Tour experience and said his goal is to make the cut.

"I know my game is good enough to compete," he said. "I'm not overwhelmed by it. I look upon it as an opportunity."

The other four have something in common in that each played for BYU and has won a PGA Tour event. Clampett's came clear back in 1982 when he won the Southern Open, and he has rarely played in recent years while pursuing a career as a golf analyst on CBS-TV. Clearwater and Zokol are both trying to make comebacks by competing on the Buy.com Tour this year.

As for the player everyone wants to see -- Tiger Woods -- he'll be teeing off at 9:40 a.m. along with Jim Furyk and Jesper Parnevik. Four-time winner Jack Nicklaus will tee off at 1:40 p.m. with British Open champion Paul Lawrie and U.S. Amateur champion David Gossett.

STATE AM: The field is filling up fast for the 102nd annual Utah State Men's Amateur golf tournament, which will be played July 5-9 at Oakridge Country Club. Fifty-nine players qualified in four qualifying tournaments last week, and a similar number will qualify in tournaments this week at Green Spring, Bountiful Ridge and Davis Park golf courses.

Twenty-one players who qualified at Hobble Creek included medalist Scott Hailes, who plays for the University of New Mexico and shot a 66. Other qualifiers were Scott Fairbanks, Kyle Wight, Manuel Merizalde, Ron Gibb, Jon D. Christensen, Doug Baxter, Chuck O'Brien, Dale Ainge, Wade Cowan, Jose Garrido, Doug Horne, Blair Bingham, Brandon Hargett, Johnny Averett, Brett Miller, Blaine Talley, Brian Spilker, Mark Moeller, Jon W. Christensen and Jake Allman.

There were 26 players who qualified at Glenmoor led by Brecken Varah, who shot a 3-under 69. Others who qualified were Luke Swilor, Peter Brown, Jason Labrum, Shaun Bandley, Craig Crosland, Ryan Ellis, Sam Williams, Pete Houdeshel, Rick Lloyd, Kurt Jamison, Jeff Jolley, Ed Ingram, Bill Pizza, Justin Bateman, Jim Weber, Greg Buckway, Nick Marakis Jr., Dan Nuttall, Ron Miller, Jason Rodgers, Kurt Bernhisel, Steve Brinton, Brian Thompson, Paul Cannon and Jeff Burton.

At Moab, three players who shot 77 made it -- Rafe Johnston, O.J. Ainsworth and Kevin Richens and on Friday at Logan River, nine more players qualified including medalist Kevin Blotter (71), Nate Blotter, Jeff Powars, Chris Olsen, Jeff Cliften, Craig Woodard, Clay Chrisoffersen, Ron Garland and Adam Britt.

JR GOLF: In the past, the Utah Junior Golf Association has been accused, sometimes justifiably, of catering only to the very best junior players. This year, changes have been made to make all golfers feel a part of the action, not just the elite players, many of whom have been groomed on the course since they were toddlers.

The best boys players are grouped in an age 13 to 17 group on what is called the Johnny Miller Tour. The biggest group of golfers play on the Bruce Summerhays Tour, which is for a wide range of golfers, many of whom are just starting to play. This year, that tour has been broken up into three flights, so golfers who shoot in the 90s can earn a plaque, just like the kids who shoot close to par.

Another change this year has been to discontinue golfer of the year awards in the younger age groups of golfers to make it more fun and not so competitive.

Jeff Thurman and Utah Junior Golf Association should be applauded for the changes.