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Former BYU golfer Peter Kuest is keeping pedal down in his quest for Utah Open victory

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Peter Kuest eyes a green as he competes on day two of the Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — After shooting his best competitive round ever at Riverside Country Club — a 9-under-par 63 — in the opening round of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, Peter Kuest wanted to do even better Saturday. 

His goal was 61, and though he didn’t quite hit that number, his 64 was good enough to give him a five-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the tournament.

Kuest, who finished off a brilliant four-year career at BYU last spring by being named all-American, stands at 17-under-par 127, five shots in front of Riverside teaching pro Matt Baird, who put a second straight 66 on the board Saturday. 

“I wanted to go out and shoot as low as I could and thought 61 was definitely out there,” Kuest said. 

The way he started, it looked like Kuest could easily make it to 11-under par on he day as he shot a 30 on his first nine, the back nine at Riverside. He made an eagle at the par-5 13th hole for the second day in a row and followed with three straight birdies and another at 18. However, on the back nine, he could only manage two birdies, at 3 and 6 as he couldn’t birdie either of the par-5s.

“It was a good day all in all, a really solid round of golf,” Kuest said.

Like Kuest, Baird knows the Riverside layout like the back of his hand, having been a teaching pro there for the past nine years. He made three birdies on each side with none coming on the par-5s.

Tied for third place at 10-under 134 are Colorado’s Zahkai Brown and Park City pro Craig Hocknull. Brown is “Mr. Utah Open,” having never finished lower than 16th over the past nine years with has six top-10 finishes including a victory in 2016 and runner-up finish in 2017 and 2018.

Former BYU golfer Kelton Hirsch, who lost in a playoff for last year’s Utah Open title, is leading the amateurs again at 9-under-par 135 after a 67 Saturday. University of Utah golfer Mitchell Schow is one shot behind at 136 with Arizona pro Blake Cannon.

Tyler Jones, who shot the round of his life Friday with a 64, got off to a rocky start with a double bogey at the first hole and a bogey at the second he finished with a 77 for a 141 total.  

Kuest, whose name is pronounced “Quest,” is following in the footsteps of his former BYU teammate Patrick Fishburn, who jumped out to a big lead after two rounds of the 2017 Utah Open with scores of 63 and 64 when he won as an amateur. Fishburn finished off with a 63 in the final round to set a Utah Open record of 190.

When asked what his goal for Sunday was, Kuest wasn’t trying to one-up Fishburn when he said he again was aiming to shoot 61.

“I’m going to go out and try to shoot as low as I can tomorrow, just keep the pedal down,” he said. “I’m not going to look at the leaderboard, just go out and try to shoot another low round hopefully.” 

Kuest will tee off in the final group at 11:30 a.m. along with Baird and Brown. The first prize money is $15,000.

OPEN NOTES: The 36-hole cut came at 146 with 61 golfers qualifying to play Sunday . . . BYU golf coach Bruce Brockbank won the senior sidebar purse with a two-day total of 141, six shots better than Ryan Rhees . . . Veronica Joels, the only woman in the field, shot a second-round 76 and finished at 153. The 20-year-old UNLV golfer qualified by winning the Utah Women’s Open last week . . .  Besides Brown, five other former champions made the cut — defending champion Sam Saunders (141), 2010 champion Nick Mason (139), 2013 champion Zach Johnson (143) and 2014 champion B.J. Staten (145) and two-time champion Clay Ogden (145). 

UTAH OPEN SCORES

127 —Peter Kuest (63-64)

132 — Matt Baird (66-66)

134 — Zahkai Brown (67-67), Craig Hocknull (65-69)

135 — a-Kelton Hirsch (68-67), Neil Johnson (67-68), Kavan Eubank (67-68)

136 — a-Mitchell Schow (69-67), Blake Cannon (67-69)

137 — Eric McCardle (66-71), Joe Summerhays (68-69), Jimmy Gunn (69-68), a-Hayden Christensen (69-68) 

138 — a-Tyson Shelley (69-69) Phillip Reedy (67-71), Edward Olson (69-69)

139 — Nick Mason (70-69)

140 — a-Simon Kwon (71-69), a-Elijah Turner (71-69), Chris Moody (70-70), Drew McCullough (72-68), TK Kim (71-69), Brandon Kida (72-68), Casey Fowles (68-72), Derek Fribbs (68-72), Isaac Merry (66-74), Justin Keiley (68-72)

141 — a-Preston Summerhays (68-73), Bruce Brockbank (71-70), a-Tristan Mandur (70-71), a-Tyler Jones (64-77), Luke Vivilo (68-73), Sam Saunders (71-70), John Murdock (70-71), Tyler Weworski (71-70)

142 — a-John Bender (72-70), Mitch Carlson (72-70), Joseph Harrison (69-73), Jere Pelletier (70-72), Chris Dompier (71-71), Parker Reese (71-71)

143 — Zach Johnson (72-71), Perry Cohen (70-73), a-Dan Horner (70-73), Matt Snyder (72-71)

144 — Tommy Sharp (69-75), Colby Dean (72-72), George Markham (71-73), Derek Ackerman (71-73), Josh Anderson (75-69), Ty Chambers (70-74), a-Ryan Brimley (70-74)

145 — B.J. Staten (73-72), Jordan Rodgers (76-69), a-David Jennings (73-72), a-Davis Heslington (74-71), Steele DeWald (68-77), CJ Lee (74-71), Clay Ogden (74-71)

146 — a-Brock Stanger (74-72), a-Noah Schone (71-75) 

Missed cut

147 — Brock Padilla (73-74), Tele Wightman (71-76), Joel Skarbo (75-72), Ryan Rhees (73-74), Steve Schneiter (69-78), Denny Job (78-69), Logan Holt (75-72), Jordan Bloxham (74-73), Kent Hagen (72-75)

148 — Thomas Cook (75-73), Todd Tanner (74-74)