FARMINGTON — Chris Moody really wants to represent Utah in the Pacific Coast Amateur next month in San Francisco, so he's doing his darndest to win the Utah State Amateur this week at Oakridge Country Club.
Of course, Moody would love to win the State Am, the most prestigious amateur golf tournament in Utah, just because it's a big deal to win. However, he's using a possible berth on the three-man Pacific Coast Amateur team as extra motivation.
On Thursday, Moody captured State Am medalist honors and a new $500 gold watch by shooting second-round 67 for a two-round total of 136. That gave him a one-shot win over first-day leader Doug Rouse, whose 69 Thursday gave him a 137 total.
Moody earned the No. 2 seed in match play behind Billy Harvey, who gets the No. 1 seed as the defending champion. Even though he beat everybody in the medal portion of the tournament, Moody didn't get any favors in the draw for match play.
For Friday morning's first round, Moody was paired against BYU golfer Manuel Merizalde, who survived a seven-man playoff for the final six spots Thursday evening after rebounding with a 70 Thursday following an opening-round 78. How good is Merizalde? Well, the Colombian native played ahead of Harvey on the BYU golf team this year.
Then if Moody happened to get by Merizalde, he was to face a possible matchup with Boyd Summerhays, an Oakridge regular, who recently returned from an LDS mission. Summerhays couldn't match his opening round 69, but his 76 Thursday left him in a tie for 12th and a first-round matchup against Weber State golfer Steve Day, a quarterfinalist a year ago.
Moody finished early Thursday afternoon before some golfers had even teed off and had a good idea he might be the medalist with his rounds of 69 and 67.
"If I win, it would be great," he said. "My goal coming in was to shoot 70-70. I putted really well today and hit the ball well again with only two errant drives."
Moody has stepped up his game in the past month in an effort to qualify for the Pacific Coast Amateur for the fourth straight year. To qualify for the tournament, a golfer must either win the State Am or finish in the top two on the local Challenge Cup points list. Recently, a fellow amateur told Moody he had no chance of making the Pacific Coast Am to which Moody responded with, "forget that, man."
He fired a course-record 61 to win the Art City Amateur two weeks ago and came up with the two sub-70 rounds this week. He's climbing up the points list, but he could solidify his Pacific Coast Am spot with a State Am win.
Rouse is the 49-year-old from Evergreen, Colo., who showed up for Thursday's second round not even knowing he was alone in the lead. "I thought there were three or four 68s," he said. "I guess my eyes are getting bad."
Rouse finished about a half hour before Moody and looked like he might be the medalist, but he didn't seem to bothered if he won or not.
"It really doesn't matter," he said. "Tomorrow we all start even. This is a lot of fun, and I've met a lot of great guys this week."
Utah State golfer Casey Beck and 1985 State Am champ Steve Borget tied for third at 141, while Harvey, Jose Garrido and Ryan Job tied at 142. Fifteen-year-old Clay Ogden was all alone at 143, while 16-year-old Daniel Summerhays, Weber State golfer Derek Fox and Scott Fairbanks all tied at even-par 144.
Boyd Summerhays headed a group at 145 that included University of New Mexico golfer Scott Hailes, Colorado State golfer Tommy Sharp, 1998 champion Darrin Overson and over-50 golfers Ron Garland and Jim Jensen.
Mitch Hyer, who has won two State Am titles, including one at Oakridge in 1979, tied at 146 with Day, while Steve Brinton, Jason Rodgers, Lynn Lloyd, Luke Swilor, Shaun Jepsen and 14-year-old Stuart Gold tied at 147.
Thursday's cut came at 148 where seven golfers were tied and had to play off for the final six spots. The seven began a playoff shortly after 7 p.m. on the par-5 No. 1 hole. Three golfers, Brock Padilla, Sam Williams and Kurt Jamison birdied the hole, while Merizalde, Kirk Siddens and Jake Ellison all made pars.
The odd man out was St. George's Noah Backman, who got in trouble in the trees on the right on his first two shots, had to knock it out sideways with his putter and eventually ended up with a bogey.
Among the top players who didn't qualify for match play were three-time champion Doug Bybee (150), 1995 champ Jason Wight (154), 1997 champion Todd Barker (155), City Am champ Steve Poulson (150) and Dustin Volk (149), who had the longest active streak of match play appearances with four.
By Friday night, just eight golfers will be left and after two more rounds Saturday, just two players will be left for Sunday's 36-hole final.