Over the years, only a handful of women have played in the Utah Open — an occasional club pro and in recent years, the winner of the Utah Women’s Open, who gets an automatic invite.
However, no woman has ever made the cut at the annual tournament over the past two decades, until this year.
Kerstin Fotu, a 22-year-old from Highland who will be a junior on the BYU golf team this year, qualified for Sunday’s final round with a 73 Saturday at Riverside Country Club. That put her right on the cutline at 143 after shooting a 70 Friday.
“That was the goal, to put together two good rounds and make the cut,” Fotu said. “I’ve been keeping it in the fairways and my lag putts have been really good.”
Fotu, who won the Utah Women’s Amateur in 2019, is not getting any advantages off the tees, playing alongside the men at the 7,142-yard layout. After a consistent round Friday when she made three birdies and one bogey, she had a pair of birdies and bogeys and before bogeying the par-5 15th hole. However, she parred the final three holes to come in at 1-under par, beating out 90 or so of her male counterparts.
So now that she’s made the cut, what’s Fotu’s goal for Sunday?
“I’ll just try to go as low as I can tomorrow,” she said.
The tournament leader after two rounds is Matt Marshall, a 36-year-old from Oregon, who added a 65 to his first-round 62, which tied the course record on Friday. He made two birdies and an eagle on the front nine and four more birdies on the back nine before making his second bogey of the tournament, at No. 18.
“That was the goal, to put together two good rounds and make the cut. I’ve been keeping it in the fairways and my lag putts have been really good.” — Kerstin Fotu
“Everything was pretty solid today,” said Marshall, who shot a 63 on Monday to qualify for the tournament. “I’ve been rolling in some good putts. I’m happy with the way I’m playing.”
Marshall, who played at Riverside clear back in 2006 when he played for UC-Davis, feels comfortable with a two-shot lead heading into the final round. He’s played regularly on the MacKenzie (Canada) Tour and made the cut at the 2016 U.S. Open. He’s also won six professional tournaments, including the Reno Open this summer.
Marshall leads Derek Fribbs, a 30-year-old from Colorado, by two shots and CK Kim, a 30-year-old from Idaho, by three shots.
Colorado’s Zahkai Brown, who won the tournament in 2016 and has several top-10 finishes to his credit at the Utah Open, is fourth at 203.
The top Utahn is Farmington’s Daniel Summerhays, who was a regular on the PGA Tour for eight years and is playing in the Utah Open for the first time this year. The 37-year-old former State Amateur champion is seven shots off the pace in a tie for eighth place at 206.
Summerhays never played in the tourney as an amateur and once he turned pro, he always had conflicts. He’s enjoyed his initial Utah Open as he started off strong, flirting with the course record with a 63 on Friday. However, he struggled with his driving on Saturday and only managed a 71, which puts him seven shots off the lead.
Summerhays says golf will be part of his future in some regard and he may enter the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying tournament in November.
Dean Wilson, the 1999 Utah Open champ, is tied for 11th at 135. Cooper Jones, the 17-year-old Salt Lake City Amateur champion, is the low amateur at 136.
Players of note who didn’t make the cut included former champions Zach Johnson (69-76), Mike Malaska (72-74) and Dusty Fielding (79-75), Jazz owner Ryan Smith (74-77) and former Women’s Amateur champion Grace Summerhays (77-81).