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Tess Blair wins Women’s Amateur medalist honors, looks ahead to match play

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Tess Blair tees off during the Utah State Amateur championship at Soldier Hollow golf course.

Fairways Media, Randy Dodson

MIDWAY — There used to be a myth in some golf circles that it was bad luck to win medalist honors in a match play tournament because the medalist rarely ended up winning.

Tess Blair, who won the medal portion of the Utah Women’s Amateur Tuesday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course, wasn’t the least bit concerned that it would affect her chances the rest of the week in match play.

When Blair won the Women’s Amateur in 2018, she also was the medalist. And last year’s champion, Kerstin Fotu, also captured medalist honors  before winning match play.  

“Last time I won, I was also the medalist, so hopefully that gives me some good vibes this week,” Blair said, after adding a 69 to her Gold Course (women’s) record of 67 the day before for a 136 total. 

Blair, a former state champion at Bingham High School, says she’s playing better than at any time since her collegiate season at Sacramento State was abruptly cut short in mid-March. 

“My goal was just to make match play, so winning medalist is just the cherry on top,” she said. “It will give me confidence going into the week.”

Sixteen-year-old Grace Summerhays, the daughter of Boyd Summerhays, who comes from Arizona to spend her summers in Utah, had the best round of the day, a 4-under-par 68 to move up to second place at 140 following her first day 72.

Southern Utah University golfer Chanikan Yongyuan of Thailand, who was the Big Sky freshman of the year in 2019, shot a 69 to finish third at 141, while four-time champion Kelsey Chugg also shot 69 and came in at even-par 144. 

Lehi High golfer Lila Galeai was next at 146, followed by BYU senior Naomi Soifua at 148. Taitum Beck, a senior-to-be at Weber State, and SUU golfer Poy Prasurtwong tied for seventh at 150.

Blair will play Jadan Gonzales, a San Jose State golfer who plays out of Davis Park, in Wednesday’s first round but knows she has her work cut out for her with golfers like Summerhays and Chugg in the field.

“When people make it to match play, everybody’s really talented so it doesn’t really matter which position you’re in,” Blair said of her No. 1 seed.

Former Bingham High and Sacramento State golfer Tess Blair

Tess Blair during the Utah State Amateur championship at Soldier Hollow golf course.

Fairways Media, Randy Dodson

Blair got rolling with an eagle-3 at the No. 8 hole when she hit a 7-iron within 5 feet. That put her under par and she added a birdie at No. 16 for her 69.

For much of the day, it looked like Fotu, the defending champion, would miss the cut after her opening 82. She had begun with a double bogey and was 3-over for the day at the turn. But on the back nine, she turned it on with birdies at 10, 11 and 17 for a 72 to finish in a tie for 14th place at 154. Fotu will meet Yongyuan in a first-round match. 

Other qualifiers include Carissa Graft, former 6A prep state champion who played for Indiana Tech last year; former Davis High standout Laura Gerner, who plays for the University of Idaho; 16-year-old Berlin Long; Timpview High golfers Rachel Lillywhite and Sunbin Seo, and Southern Utah golfer Launa Wilson.

Winners of Wednesday morning matches will meet in the afternoon with semifinals matches set for Thursday morning and an 18-hole final Thursday afternoon.

Women’s State Amateur medal results

Soldier Hollow GC (par-72)

136 — Tess Blair (67-69)

140 — Grace Summerhays (72-68)

141 — Chanikan Yongyuan (72-69)

144 — Kelsey Chugg (75-69)

146 — Lila Galeai (75-71)

148 — Naomi Soifua (76-72)

150 — Poy Prasurtwong (78-72), Taitum Beck (77-73)

151 — Carissa Graft (76-75)

152 — Rachel Lillywhite (80-72), Berlin Long (79-73), Laura Gerner (75-77), Sunbin Seo (76-76)

154 — Kerstin Fotu (82-72), Launa Wilson (77-77)

155 — Jadan Gonzales (76-79)

Missed cut

156 — Millie Terrion (80-76), Cora Mickelson (78-78)

157 — Cassie Campos (78-79), Molly Holbert (83-74)

159 — Tyler Erickson (84-75)

160 — Claire Whisenant (84-76)

Wednesday matches

8:00 a.m. — Tess Blair vs. Jadan Gonzales

8:10 a.m. — Taitum Beck vs. Carissa Graft

8:20 a.m. — Kelsey Chugg vs. Berlin Long

8:30 a.m. — Lila Galeai vs. Laura Gerner

8:40 a.m. — Grace Summerhays vs.  Launa Wilson

8:50 a.m. — Poy Prasurtwong vs. Sunbin Seo

9:00 a.m. — Chanikan Yongyuan vs. Kerstin Fotu

9:10 a.m. — Naomi Soifua vs. Rachel Lillywhite