PROVO — An amateur might just win the Provo Open for the first time in 40 years — if Thursday’s first round leaderboard holds up for the next 36 holes and two days.
But after Day 1, a crafty veteran professional stood atop them all.
Joe Summerhays, a cousin of PGA Tour veteran Daniel Summerhays, fired a sizzling 7-under par to take the first-round lead but he's being chased by a trio of amateurs just one shot back.
Former Utah State Amateur champion (1998) Darrin Overson, BYU freshman Kelton Hirsch and former Utah Valley University star JT Timmons tied professional and former Utah State player Seokwon Jeon with a 6-under-par 66 at East Bay Golf Course.
Summerhays had seven birdies and an eagle in his 33-32-65 round that included bogeys on the par-4 sixth and eighth holes.
Former BYU and USGA Publinx champion Clay Ogden, now a teaching professional at Oakridge Country Club, is two shots back at 5-under 67 after shooting a front nine hole score of 31. He played in the 2006 Masters at Augusta National.
“It was one of those days where you had to score on the par fives and for me it was a good putting day,” said Overson, who eagled No. 9 and was 5-under on East Bay’s par five holes.
“This is a course you have to hit it in the right place. They place the pins in places you have to know where to attack,” said Overson, who just returned from the USGA’s Four-Ball at the famed Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina.
“The courses out there just wear you out, just beat the living crap out of you so returning here to Utah and playing in the Provo Open was more like a case of getting back to regular fun golf."
Also in at 5-under 67 was Riverside Country Club professional Chris Moody, who made eagles on Nos. 12 and 9 after making double bogey on No. 10, his first hole of the day. Moody's score was the best of the afternoon group that played in stiff winds.
"That No. 10 hole is the toughest par 4 in the state of Utah," said Overson. "You stand on the tee box and it is scary." Just as Moody found out.
Those cards with 66s took place among morning tee times on a day the wind began to kick up on the final five holes for Overson, who played in the same group with brothers Clay and Cole, the 2013 Utah State Amateur champion. Later in the day, high winds made the course, and going low, tougher, except for Summerhays, who elevated his game over the elements.
“I thought the course was a little soft, to tell you the truth. I think they anticipated the winds and watered it down, so when we teed off early, you could tell the fairways and greens had that moisture in it,” said Overson, who played college golf at Colorado State.
“The wind out there was tough,” said CJ Lee, who just won the Salt Lake City Amateur and was BYU’s low scorer at the NCAA regional at Stanford.
A regular at East Bay, Lee shook his head when asked about the wind in the afternoon for those who teed it up after 2 p.m. “It was the toughest I’ve ever seen East Bay. I’m glad I have a morning tee time Friday because it could get brutal in the afternoon like it was today.”
Lee shot 2-under 70 on Thursday but recently fired a 64 during an eight-man challenge as part of the men’s association. His 70 equaled the top rounds of the late afternoon grouping with former Provo Open champion Dustin Fielding, a professional from St. George and amateur Kyler Dearden.
The last amateur to win the Provo Open was BYU All-American Jimmy Blair, who won the trophy in 1977.
Professional Jordan Rodgers carded a 4-under 68, one stroke better than a pair of Utah Valley amateurs Clay Bingham and Brock Stanger at 3-under 69.