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8 players are still gunning for final Utah Classic spots

They came from all over — from 23 states and three foreign countries — for the chance to qualify for a spot in this week's Utah Classic on the PGA Nationwide Tour.

They had less than a one in 10 chance of making it, as only 14 of 156 golfers qualified for the 72-hole tournament, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at Willow Creek Country Club.

However, when play ended Tuesday night at Wingpointe Golf Course, only half of the 14 spots had been determined. Eleven players had gone out at 7:30 to play off for the final seven spots, but after two holes only three golfers had been eliminated and it was too dark to continue.

So at 7:30 this morning, eight men, ex-BYU golfer Scott Miller, Old Mill assistant pro Jeff Keye, James Oh, Ben Pettitt, Jim Bob Coleman, David Suggs, Justin Snelling and Jeremy Tucker, will tee it up to see which seven move on and who goes home unhappy.

The three unlucky golfers who lost in the playoff included former BYU golfer Jesse Hibler, Thomas O'Stasik and Chris Downes.

Shane Wills of Broomfield, Colo., and Mike Pearson of Alpharetta, Ga., led all qualifiers with 7-under-par 65s, while Mark Worthington of Kirkland, Wash., was a shot back at 66.

Farmington's Joseph Summerhays and Las Vegas' Scott Piercy, who played briefly for BYU, shot 67s along with Brad Adamonis and Dan Stone.

Summerhays, who has played in two Nationwide Tour events in his career, felt fortunate not to have to go out in the 11-man playoff.

"I've done too many of those to do it again," he said.

Summerhays was four-under on the day when he birdied the par-3 No. 17 hole with a four-foot putt to avoid the playoff. His wife, Michelle, had found out where the cut was and told her husband, who was in one of the final five groups off the front nine.

"I putted well, hit some good shots and got a couple of breaks," said Summerhays, son of Champions Tour golfer Bruce Summerhays.

One break came on the par-5 16th hole where Summerhays snap-hooked his drive into what is normally a lake. However it is dry this year and Summerhays' ball ended up in a decent position, so he was able to par the hole.

The other break was playing in the afternoon when it's usually more windy. Instead, the morning group got the worst of the weather when the end of a front passed through.

"I got lucky I got a break with the weather," he said.

Among the local golfers who didn't make it were Orem's Tommy Johnson and former BYU golfer Billy Harvey, who shot 69 and Steve Schneiter and Jimmy Blair, who shot 70. Thirteen-year-old golfer Tony Finau came close to qualifying, shooting a 71 with a double bogey on the 17th hole.

A pro-am will be played Wednesday before the $450,000 tournament proper gets under way Thursday.


E-mail: sor@desnews.com