PROVO — Earlier in the week, Dusty Fielding said he was seriously considering giving up competitive golf after the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.
So after the 35-year-old Richfield native went out and won the tournament, besting everyone else in the 156-player field and earning a check for $20,000, what does he think about talk of retirement now?
Well, Sunday’s victory at Riverside Country Club didn’t necessarily change his mind, but it certainly gave him second thoughts.
Fielding erased ghosts of near-misses in past Utah Opens when he blew a four-stroke lead over the final nine holes in 2012 to finish second and 2015 when he finished tied for sixth.
This time, Fielding hung on, despite a couple of shaky moments down the stretch, for a three-shot victory over former champion Zahkai Brown, Sam Saunders and Blake Cannon, finishing at 16-under 200 for the weekend.
“I’ve been trying to win this for a long time,” he said. “It was good to be the guy who played well the final round.”
Still, the win didn’t quite erase thoughts about not continuing to play golf competitively.
“I just have kind of felt it time to call it quits with the stress of it all and the constant disappointments that wear you down over time,” he said. “I’ll enjoy it for now. At this point, I don’t feel like it’s changing a lot, but you never know.”
Fielding, who took up golf later than most as a teenager and didn’t take it seriously until after a church mission, has lived in the St. George area for the past 13 years and now lives in Hurricane, playing out of Sand Hollow Golf Course. He has won several tournaments over the years, including the Provo Open, and in 2013 played on the Web.com Tour for a year without a lot of success.
He said he worked hard on his game before this year and won a couple of smaller tournaments, but hasn’t fared well in the bigger tournaments until last week.
Fielding began with an 8-under-par 64 that put him in second place after the first day. A second-round 69 left him one behind Brown, who was looking to be the low professional for the third straight year.
Back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 gave Fielding the lead, and birdies at 14 and 15, the latter a 40-foot bomb, stretched his lead over playing partners Brown and Garrett Fotu to four strokes.
Fielding knew if he just parred in, he would cruise to victory, but he made a bogey at 16 when he hit the sand. At the par-3 17th, he pulled his drive into the left bunker — “as bad a place as you could be” with the left front pin placement — and his blast out stayed in the rough around the green.
Meanwhile, Brown stuck his drive within 5 feet, and when Fielding put his third shot 10 feet away, it looked like there could be a three-shot swing if he missed and Brown sank his birdie try. However, Fielding stepped up and sank his, while Brown’s slid by.
“I started feeling some nerves. … I was really feeling heat after (with a long bogey putt),” he said. “Luckily my putter bailed me out multiple times today. I putted really well — that was the key to my week.”
Fielding went into No. 18, two shots ahead of Saunders and Cannon, who had already finished, and played it safe with a 4-iron off the tee. That left him 175 yards from the rough, and after poor iron shots on the previous two holes, he talked to himself as he drove his cart up to his ball. “I actually said, ‘Man up and stuff one in there.’”
He did exactly that, sticking his approach within one foot for a tap-in birdie for a 67 and a three-shot victory.
Brown also birdied the 18th to pull into a tie for second, but he was frustrated by his inability to make putts all day.
“They cut the hole a half-inch too small today,” he joked afterward. “I played well, the ball just didn’t go in. I just kept rimming them.”
As for Fielding, even if he stops playing competitive golf, he can always come back to the Utah Open, where he now has a lifetime exemption as a champion.
“It’s always a treat, such a good time,” Fielding said of the tournament. "It’s definitely a perk of being the champ."
OPEN NOTES: University of Utah golfer Kyler Dunkle, who was runner-up at the Utah State Amateur, was the low amateur with a 12-under 204 total, good for a tie for fifth place overall. Two of his U. teammates, Blake Tomlinson and Mitchell Schow, were three more strokes back. … Defending champion Patrick Fishburn ended up in a tie for 16th place at 209. … This marks the fifth straight year the tournament has been played at Riverside, and it will be played there at least two more years. … The tournament’s charity, Utah Special Olympics, received a check for $50,000.
Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open
Riverside Country Club Par-72
Dusty Fielding (64-69-67)
Blake Cannon (64-71-68), Sam Saunders (65-69-69), Zahkai Brown (66-66-71)
Mitch Carlson (69-70-65), Tyler Weworski (67-70-67), Gregor Main (70-65-69), Garrett Fotu (70-65-71) a-Kyler Dunkle (70-67-67)
Edward Olson (63-73-69)
Neil Johnson (68-72-66)
Zach Johnson (69-69-69), a-Mitchell Schow (69-68-70), a-Blake Tomlinson (67-69-71)
a-Rhett Rasmussen (69-67-72)
Joel Skarbo (71-68-70), Patrick Fishburn (71-67-71), Davis Garner (68-69-72), Joe Parkinson (72-66-71), Russell Grove (70-67-72), Nick Mason (66-69-74)
Pete Fernandez (66-74-70), Riley Arp (69-70-71), Tommy Sharp (69-70-71), a-Cole Ponich (70-68-72)
Dean Wilson (71-71-69), Joe Summerhays (70-70-71), Brandon Kida (67-73-71), CJ Lee (67-73-71), Zach Pritchard (65-72-74), a-Dan Horner (71-69-71)
Steele DeWald (72-70-70), Matt Snyder (71-72-69), B.J. Staten (69-70-73),
Samuel Cyr (68-73-72), Clay Ogden (71-70-72), a-David Jennings (71-69-73)
Sam Jandel (74-70-70), Jesse Mueller (70-68-76), Todd Tanner (69-69-76), a-Zach Jones (69-72-73), a-Kirk Siddens (67-69-78)
Peter Lansburgh (73-71-71), Chris Moody (70-74-71), Seokwon Jeon (70-73-72), Jacob Holt (69-69-73)
a-Chase Lansford (70-72-74), a-Ryan Brimley (67-75-74)
Scott Brandt (73-69-75), Ian Maxwell (69-73-75),
Eric Nielsen (73-71-74), Preston Alder (71-72-75), Christian Muscarello (71-72-75), Casey Fowles (69-73-76), Milo Lines (72-69-77)
Matt Baird (70-74-75), David Poggi (70-73-76),
Travis Hofland (72-71-77),
Phillip Yribarren (73-70-80), Derek Butts (68-74-81), Jordan Rodgers (69-71-83)