PROVO — Defending champion Nathan Lashley won’t be back, since he’s playing on the PGA’s Web.com Tour this year, but a talented field will be on hand for the annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open golf tournament this weekend at Riverside Country Club.
The 54-hole tournament gets under way Friday morning and will continue Saturday and conclude Sunday afternoon.
Former BYU golfer Jordan Rodgers is the top returning player. Rodgers led the tournament after two rounds and much of the final round before being overtaken by Lashley, who made a pair of long birdie putts at 16 and 17 to secure the victory. Lashley, who also won the tournament in 2009, earned a spot on the Web.com Tour this year
Besides Rodgers, most of Utah’s top professionals, including the top five in the race for the Utah Section player of the year are Chris Moody, Tommy Sharp, Pete Stone, Zach Johnson and Joe Summerhays.
Stone (2006) and Johnson (2013) are former Utah Open winners, while Sharp and Summerhays both competed in the PGA Championship last month. Moody has been close to winning the Utah Open in the past and has home-course knowledge as a Riverside assistant pro.
The field of 156 consists mostly of Utahns with just 33 golfers from out of state. It includes 28 amateurs, led by State Amateur champion Patrick Fishburn, who was also last year’s low amateur, Salt Lake City Open winner Blake Tomlinson, BYU freshman Rhett Rasmussen, former State Am champ Dan Horner and two-time State Am champion Jon Wright.
Former champions include two-time champion Clay Ogden (2007, 2011), Mike Malaska (1974), Jimmy Blair (1981), Jerry Sneve (1985), Kim Thompson (2001), Steve Friesen (2003), Pete Stone (2006), Nick Mason (2010), James Drew (2012), and Zach Johnson (2013).
Thirty-one golfers earned spots in the tournament at a Monday qualifier, led by Derek Lahti-Brown, a 31-year-old professional from Tacoma, Washington, who shot a 65 and Hawaiian pro Alex Chiarella and amateur Blair Bursey of Canada, who shot 66.
The Riverside course has made several changes since last year, mostly to do with expanded lakes that brings water into play much more than on the former design. The lake on No. 10 that was close to the green on the right side has been made larger and now comes into play along the left side of the fairway and is also closer to the back of the No. 6 green, where it can catch approach shots that go too long.
The lake at the par-5 15th hole has been moved close to the fairway, giving golfers pause before trying to reach the green in two. Also the lakes at No. 7 and No. 9 have been expanded and are closer to the greens.