A REAL UTAH OPEN: The Utah Open golf tournament, which has been played every year but one since 1926, will have a new look this year — more Utahns.
The Open has been more like a mini-tour event for the past two decades as future PGA Tour players such as Dennis Paulson, Neal Lancaster, Grant Waite and Mark Carnevale emerged as the winners. But now that the Utah Section PGA has taken over the tournament, the focus of the tourney has changed toward local professionals.
The tournament will be played Aug. 4-6 at The Jeremy Country Club with the majority of the players coming from Utah.
Dean Wilson, the former BYU golfer who lives in Orem, will be back to defend his title, fresh off his victory on the Japan Tour last week. That win earned Wilson the tidy sum of $166,000, making it easier to take time off the Japan Tour to travel back to Utah for a week. Several players have earned exemptions for winning various Utah events and all former champions are exempt. A qualifying tournament will be played Monday at Wingpointe Golf Course.
ARNIE'S BACK: Utah golf fans have been fortunate to see Arnold Palmer, one of golf's all-time greats, many times over the years. When Arnie competes in the 2000 Novell Utah Showdown at Park Meadows Country Club in three weeks (Aug. 14-20), he will be playing his 1,002nd combined PGA and Senior PGA Tour event.
Ten of Palmer's appearances have been in the state of Utah, including two exhibitions. Palmer first came to Utah in 1958 when he competed in the Utah Open at the Salt Lake Country Club and finished second behind Dow Finsterwald. His two exhibition appearances were both at the Country Club, in 1977 when he played a best ball against Jack Nicklaus and in 1993 when he played with Tom Kite, Peter Jacobsen and Mark O'Meara.
The rest of his appearances have come in the Senior PGA Tour events, including four at Jeremy Ranch (1982-85) and three at Park Meadows (1996-97-99). Although he shows no signs of slowing down, there has been talk that now that he's 70, Palmer will cut back on his playing schedule.
SCRAMBLE WINNERS:Two professionals from River Oaks golf course captained the winning teams at the Oldsmobile Scramble qualifying at Glenmoor Golf Course.
Henry White, a teaching pro at River Oaks teamed with amateurs Will Hokanson, Van Hokanson, Andy Hokanson and David Hokanson to win the gross honors with a 16-under-par 56 at Glenmoor Golf Course. Dave DeSantis, the head pro at River Oaks, teamed with Steve Allred, Rick McGuire, Andy Baldwin and Lonnie Strasburg to win net honors with a 52. The two teams will compete against 258 other teams from throughout the country at the Oldsmobile Scramble National Finals in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sept. 27-Oct. 1.