PROVO — If nothing else, Patrick Fishburn sure knows how to handle the first round of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.
A year after posting a record-tying 62 in the first round of the tournament, Fishburn fired a 9-under-par 63 in Friday’s first round at Riverside Country Club to take a two-stroke lead after 18 holes of the 54-hole tournament.
The 24-year-old, who will be a senior for the BYU golf team this year, put 11 birdies on his card en route to his sparkling 63. That’s two shots better than Edward Olson, a professional from Santa Cruz, California, and three ahead of Ty Travis, a 24-year-old from Boise who was the runner-up in last year’s Utah Open, and Riley Arp of Scottsdale.
“It was pretty similar,” Fishburn said in comparing his opening round to last year’s. “Today I was hitting a lot of iron-shots pretty close, hitting the driver well and I chipped the ball pretty well.”
Fishburn acknowledged that he hasn’t played quite as well as last summer when he won the Utah State Amateur and said Friday’s round was “one of the better rounds I’ve had for a little bit.”
Zac Blair, the 27-year-old former BYU golfer who has been a regular on the PGA Tour the past two years, finished with a 4-under-par 68 and is tied with seven golfers for seventh place. Blair missed by one point of qualifying for this week’s FedEx Cup playoffs and will tee it up next week in the first leg of the Web.com playoffs in an effort to regain his PGA Tour status for next season.
“I got a bunch of looks. I just need to make a few more putts,” said Blair, whose dad, Jimmy, caddied for him before playing his own round of golf in the afternoon.
“It’s always fun to play at home on a course you know pretty well and getting my dad out here on the bag was pretty cool. It’s awesome.”
Fishburn started off hot with birdies on five of his first seven holes, before hitting a bump and making bogeys at the 9th and 10th holes with a missed green and a three-putt. Then he ran off five straight birdies from holes 12-16, before adding another at No. 18.
Last year, Fishburn followed his opening 62 with a 71 to keep the lead, but a final-round 73 left him in a tie for fifth place overall, six shots behind winner Zahkai Brown. Fishburn says he won’t abandon his usual aggressive style but will try to play “smarter” the next two days than last year.
“Sometimes I play a little too aggressive,” he said. “I’m still going to play aggressive, but probably not stupid.”
OPEN NOTES: Former BYU golfer Lea Garner, who is the first women to play in the Utah Open, started off well and was 1-under through 12 holes before faltering down the stretch with a triple bogey, double bogey and two bogeys and finishing with a 78 . . . Former BYU golfer and Masters champion Mike Weir withdrew after just a few holes, apparently because of issues with his back . . . Defending champion Brown finished with a 70 . . . Dean Wilson, a former champion (1999) and a longtime PGA Tour player, finished at even-par 72 . . . The cut for the low 60 and ties is expected to be around 146 or 147 . . . The first prize is $20,000 with a total purse of $120,000.
UTAH OPEN LEADERBOARD
Riverside Country Club
a- denotes amateur
63 -- a-Patrick Fishburn
65 -- Edward Olson
66 -- Ty Travis, Riley Arp
67 -- Blake Cannon, Austyn Karle, Jesse Mueller
68 -- Mitchel Carlson, Neil Johnson, Zac Blair, Calum Hill, Gregor Martin, Luke Vivolo, Jonathon Thomas
69 -- Matt Baird, B.J. Staten, James Drew
70 -- Pete Fernandez, Tyler Weworski, Chad Pettingill, Brandon Kida, a-Cole Ponich, a-Rhett Rasmussen, Zakhai Brown, Tele Wightman
71 -- Dusty Fielding, Joe Parkinson, a-Peter Kuest, Scott Smith, Jere Pelletier, Alex Chiarella, Chris Moody, Milo Lines, Seokwon Jeon, Dustin Pimm
72 -- Jimmy Makloski, Travis Holland, Jordan Rodgers, Jordan Brockbank, Travis Hilton, a-Preston Alder, Davis Garner, Dean Wilson, Craig Hocknull, a-Oscar Maxfield, Chad Hardy
73 -- Kane Webber, Eric Nielsen, Chip Wesley, Shawn Edwards, Matt Edwards, Todd Tanner, Tommy Sharp, Mark Owen, Ryan Rhees, Pete Stone, Phillip Reedy, a-Blair Bursey
74 -- Sam Jandel, Derek Barron, Jon Paupore, Bruce Summerhays Jr., Joe Summerhays, Keith Clearwater, Steve Schneiter, Zachary Bowcut, Dave DeSantis, Jake Wyatt, Clint Godfrey, Brian Dixon, Matthew Nolasco, Steele DeWald, Jeff Berkshire, Federico Clausen, Jimmy Mee, Clay Ogden, Tracy Zobell, Brad Stone, Jacob Holt, Jon Wright