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Former BYU golfers near top of leaderboard at Utah Championship

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Former BYU golfer Zac Blair hits a shot.

Former BYU golfer Zac Blair competes in the Korn Ferry Utah Championship on Aug. 5, 2022.

Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

Golfers with BYU ties made up nearly 5% of the field in this week’s Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club with seven golfers competing.

Because of two weather delays Friday, the cut won’t come until Saturday morning, but at least four of the Cougar contingent will play on the weekend with another having a chance.

Leading the way are 31-year-old Zac Blair, who added a 68 to his first-round 64, and 2020 grad Peter Kuest, who fired a 64 Friday. The two stand in a tie for fifth place at 10-under-par 132, three shots off the lead of Sweden’s Pontus Nyholm, who also shot a 64 Friday.

Another stroke back at 133 is Blair’s former Fremont High teammate Patrick Fishburn, whose 68 left him at 133 in a 12-way tie for ninth place. 

Daniel Summerhays, an eight-year regular on the PGA Tour, who hasn’t played the big tour for a couple of years, was in the last group on the course but still has two holes to play Saturday morning. He is 4-under for the tournament and needs a birdie on one of his last two holes to make the cut, which will come at 5-under.

Two current BYU golfers and the only amateurs in the tournament, Carson Lundell and David Timmins, will not make the cut as they stand at 1-under and 7-over, respectively, with a couple of holes left.

The least known of the seven Cougars is Austen Christiansen, a 25-year-old from Houston, who played two seasons in Provo from 2015-17 before transferring to Sam Houston State.

Christiansen, a native of Houston, won the Cougar Classic as a freshman but said he transferred for personal reasons and to get out of the cold. However, he says, “I still consider myself a Cougar not a Bearkat.” 

He just turned professional last summer and has been trying to qualify for Korn Ferry events in Monday qualifiers. In eight tries, he missed by one shot five times, before finally breaking through earlier this week at Talons Cove, where he shot a 64 to be one of seven qualifiers.

Christiansen is tied for 32nd, just six off the lead after a round of 68 that included two eagles. Normally he would be aiming for a top-25 finish to get him into the following week’s Korn Ferry event. However, the playoffs start next week and he figures he’ll have to finish in third place or better to earn a spot in the Korn Ferry playoffs.

Three golfers are tied for second at 11-under-par 131. Michael Kim, who won the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour in 2017, shot a 63 Friday, while Kevin Velo, who led all qualifiers at the Monday qualifier at Talons Cove, shot a 64 and Jeremy Paul, a co-first-round leader shot 68.

Blair, who is rehabbing after having shoulder surgery last year, still hasn’t made a bogey in two rounds and had three birdies Friday, at 7, 14 and 15.

“It’s always nice to play at home,” said the Ogden native. “I’m familiar with the course, had a nice round yesterday and battled out there today and was able to scrape around a 68.”

After the second round is completed Saturday morning, the third round will be played with the final 18 of the $750,000 tournament set for Sunday.