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Golf: Unfamiliar faces to challenge Utah State Am defending champion

Southern Utah Unviersity's Jake Vincent will take on defending champ Preston Summerhays on Friday in the Utah State Amateur quarterfinals at Soldier Hollow.
Southern Utah Unviersity's Jake Vincent will take on defending champ Preston Summerhays on Friday in the Utah State Amateur quarterfinals at Soldier Hollow.
Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

MIDWAY — The remaining competitors in the 121st Utah State Amateur are entering uncharted territory; except for the defending champion, that is.

In a tournament that often has a good mix of familiar faces and new players finding success, the 2019 State Amateur proved to be different Thursday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course. After a day defined by numerous upsets, seven competitors who have never been to the quarterfinals of the State Amateur remain and will be looking to take down last year’s winner, Preston Summerhays.

One such new face is Jake Vincent, who won the Big Sky individual title last season and will be a senior at Southern Utah this fall. The California native will be Summerhays’ first challenger Friday morning after defeating Masen Ward 2 & 1 in his morning match and promising BYU golfer Zach Jones 3 & 2 in his afternoon match.

Against Jones, who looked poised for a deep run after solid play leading up to Thursday, Vincent was unfazed and started hot with birdies on the first two holes to take an early two-hole lead that he would never give up.

“Honestly, Zach (Jones) is one of the best players I’ve played with at such a young age. The whole day I was just waiting for him to come get me and I really thought he was going to,” Vincent said.

The T-Bird attributed much of his success this week to his experience in college golf, as well as his early losses in match-play in previous years at the State Amateur.

“Losses are good. I got to learn from all the losses,” he said.

After defeating Boston Watts 3 & 2 in the morning, Summerhays faced his biggest challenge yet in his Round of 16 match against Reed Nielsen. Summerhays jumped ahead early in the round, amassing a five-hole lead by the end of hole eight, which he birdied.

However, Nielsen showed he was not going out easy, winning the next four holes, including birdies on 10 and 11. By hole 17, the match was evened up.

Summerhays’ composure and determination to win was on full display at the 18th green, though, as he drained his 12-foot par putt and let out an emotional yell. The pressure was on for Nielsen, who went on to narrowly miss his putt to tie from five feet away.

“Winning last year basically gave me lots of experience, so I kind of knew how to control my emotions when things were coming out of hand,” Summerhays explained.

The winner of that match will face the winner of the match between former Lone Peak golfer Elijah Turner and Cameron Tucker, who will be a sophomore at USU this fall. Turner edged out former State Amateur champion Dan Horner 2 & 1 and cruised to a 5 & 3 win over USU’s Brennan Coburn. Tucker beat Derek Penman 1 up followed by a 3 & 2 victory over John Reid.

On the other side of the bracket, Steven Croft, a former University of Utah golfer and Salt Lake native, impressed with a victory over 2017 State Amateur champion Kelton Hirsch in a 21-hole match he described as “brutal.”

“He is an awesome player and it was just a grudge match,” Croft said. “He birdied the first two and was up two quick and it was just back and forth, back and forth.”

He later defeated Blake Murray 4 & 2 and on Friday will face BYU’s Spencer Dunaway, who defeated Christopher Cheney 1 up in the morning and later 2016 runner-up Aaron Smith by the same margin.

The winner of their match will face the winner of the Chase Lansford and Zane Brownrigg match.

Brownrigg may be the most unfamiliar face of the bunch, as he hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. The 19-year-old is a golfer at Methodist University in North Carolina and is doing a three-month internship at Red Ledges in Heber.

He won his matches 3 & 2 and 3 & 1 against Thomas Young and Alec Williams, respectively, and is happy to have made it this far, especially after making the match-play in a playoff, something he failed to do in the Massachusetts State Amateur last year.

“Getting into the match play was priority No. 1,” Brownrigg said. “I mean, you just keep playing and see where it goes.”

After beating Nick Becker 3 & 2, Lansford won on the 19th hole against Ryan Brimley, who upset the top seed Colton Tanner earlier in the day.

Play will begin 7:30 a.m. Friday at Soldier Hollow.

Second-round results

Ryan Brimley def. Colton Tanner 1 up

Chase Lansford def. Nick Becker 3 & 2

Alec Williams def. Mitchell Schow 3 & 1

Zane Brownrigg def. Thomas Young 3 & 2

Blake Murray def. Cooper Jones 2 & 1

Steven Croft def. Kelton Hirsch 21 holes

Aaron Smith def. Spencer Wallace 1 up

Spencer Dunaway def. Christopher Cheney 1 up

Preston Summerhays def. Boston Watts 3 & 2

Reed Nielsen def. John Owen 1 up

Zach Jones def. Braydon Swapp 3 & 2

Jake Vincent def. Masen Ward 3 & 1

Brennan Coburn def. Cole Ponich 2 up

Elijah Turner def. Dan Horner 2 & 1

Cameron Tucker def. Derek Penman 1 up

John Reid def. Nathan Ouimette 4 & 3

Third-round results

Chase Lansford def. Ryan Brimley 19 holes

Zane Brownrigg def. Alec Williams 3 & 1

Steven Croft def. Blake Murray 4 & 2

Spencer Dunaway def. Aaron Smith 1 up

Preston Summerhays def. Reed Nielsen 1 up

Jake Vincent def. Zach Jones 3 & 2

Elijah Turner def. Brennan Coburn 5 & 3

Cameron Tucker def. John Reid 3 & 2

Semifinal matches Friday

7:30 a.m. – Chase Lansford vs. Zane Brownrigg

7:40 a.m. – Steven Croft vs. Spencer Dunaway

7:50 a.m. – Preston Summerhays vs. Jake Vincent

8:00 a.m. – Elijah Turner vs. Cameron Tucker