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Women’s Utah State Amateur set to begin

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Julie McMullin hits out of the sand during Utah Women's State Amateur golf competition in Layton, Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

Julie McMullin hits out of the sand during Utah Women’s State Amateur golf competition in Layton, Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

MIDWAY — The Women's Utah State Amateur golf tournament has changed considerably since the tournament switched in 2010 to the match play format the men have played for several decades.

No longer are there 100-plus golfers competing in several flights. Because only a few golfers have a chance to win in match play, the field has dwindled substantially. At least this year it won't be all college- and high school-age golfers competing at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course.

A year ago when she was defending her 2011 title, 44-year-old Julie McMullin remembers being the only golfer over the age of 22 competing.

However this year, a few other "veteran" golfers are joining McMullin in the 32-golfer field, including two-time champion Sue Nyhus, former winner Melanie Warren Christensen and 60-year-old Annette Gaotti, a winner of several senior events in Utah. Nyhus is coming off a win at the local qualifying last week for the USGA's Senior Women's Amateur.

Kelsey Chugg, who just completed her senior season at Weber State, is the defending champion. Also back this year is 14-year-old Naomi Soifua, who surprised everyone by making it to the finals of last year's tournament in Logan.

The favorite will be Sirene Blair, who despite dominating women's golf in recent years, has never won the Women's Amateur. Blair, a four-time state champion for Bingham High School, led for two rounds in 2009 as a 14-year-old, but didn't compete the next two years and last year she was upset in the quarterfinal round. This fall she will play for San Diego State.

Other top golfers in the field include Lea Garner, Tara Green, SadiePalmer, Selu Fotu and Annika Afoa-Kahaialli'i.

After two rounds of medal play Monday and Tuesday, the 15 low scorers plus Chugg will compete in match play with two rounds Wednesday and the semifinals and finals on Thursday.

email: sor@deseretnews.com

Women's Utah State Amateur

Today's pairings

36-hole qualifying

Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course

7:30 — Annika Afoa-Kahaialli'i, Sirene Blair

7:38 — Tara Green, Sadie Palmer,Rynae Baca

7:46 — Kelsey Chugg, Lea Garner,Selu Fotu

7:54 — Julie McMullin, Randi Stephens, Allison Cluff

8:02 — Sara Fredrico, Hannah Herman, Kareen Alton

8:10 — Elizabeth Jones, Heather Mathison, Nicole Thomas

8:18 — Annette Gaiotti, Jordyn Dougal, Monica Yeates

8:26 — Sue Nyhus, Haley Dunn, Kiselya Plewe

8:34 — Carly Oldroyd, Naomi Soifua, Cobair Collinsworth

8:42 — Brooke Whittaker, Kalea Heu, Mary Bischoff

8:50 — Roberta Scott, Madison Baca, Melanie Christensen