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Former BYU golfer Peter Kuest cruises to 7-shot victory at Utah Open

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Former BYU golfer Peter Kuest hits his third shot out of the bunker on the par 3 17th as he competes in and wins the Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Kuest shot 63, 64 and 66 for the three days.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — It could have been an exciting final day at the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open where 10 golfers were bunched within two shots of each other late in the final round of the 54-hole tournament.

Except by that point one golfer had already run and hid from everyone else, being eight shots up on the field at that point Sunday afternoon at RIverside Country Club.

In the end, Peter Kuest ended up winning by a whopping seven shots after his final round 67 gave the former BYU golfer a three-day total of 23-under-par 193. Kavan Eubank, a 24-year-old pro from Idaho finished second at 200, while local amateurs Hayden Christensen and Kelton Hirsch tied for third overall with former champion Zahkai Brown at 202.

“It was a grind today, but it was a lot of fun,” Kuest said. “I got my first college win here and to get my first professional win here, it’s really sweet to do this.”

For Kuest, who turned professional earlier this spring and has already played in five PGA Tour tournaments, it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would emerge as the winner of the $15,000 first-place check after he posted rounds of 63 and 64 in the first two rounds to take a five-shot lead over Riverside teaching pro Matt Baird.

Although he admitted to being nervous on the first tee, he birdied the hole and was off and running, adding birdies at 5, 7 and 8 to go to 21-under for the tournament. At that point he was seven shots up on Christensen, who played the first seven holes in seven-under and the only question was whether he would match or break the record of 26-under set by Kuest’s former BYU teammate Patrick Fishburn three years earlier.

Kuest had played holes 13 through 16 in 5-under-par each of the previous two days and if he’d done the same and added another birdie, he would have beaten the record, bested his two previous rounds and tied the competitive course record. However he was only able to get birdies at 13, 15 and 16 and made his only bogey of the day when he hit the bunker at 17.

“It would have been sweet to get the record but a win’s good enough,” Kuest said.

Christensen, a 27-year-old former Dixie State from St. George, got off to a red-hot start with five birdies and an eagle at No. 5 after seven holes. He said later the idea of a 59 crossed his mind after the first 29 of his life on the front nine, but his only bogey of the day at No. 11, “brought me back to earth” and he finished with a 7-under 65.

Christensen, who won a playoff with Hirsch for low amateur honors, plans to turn professional after the State Amateur next month. 

Brown, the 2016 champion, rallied with four birdies on the last five holes to tie for third, his sixth top-10 finish at the Utah Open since 2013.

Arizona pro Blake Cannon was sixth at 203, while four golfers, Baird, Neil Johnson, Eric McCardle and University of Utah golfer Mitchell Schow tied at 205. Defending champion Sam Saunders and 2010 champion Nick Mason tied at 206.

Kuest doesn’t know what his next tournament will be, but he’s hoping to get into more PGA Tour events this fall on sponsor’s exemptions. The Utah Open title won’t hurt his resume.

“If I have to come back and defend my title, so be it, but I’m hoping to be on the PGA Tour next year,” he said.    

UTAH OPEN FINAL RESULTS

Peter Kuest           63-64-66—193

Kavan Eubank         67-68-65—200

a-Hayden Christesnen  69-68-65—202

a-Kelton Hirsch         68-67-67—202

Zahkai Brown          67-67-68—202

Blake Cannon         67-69-67—203

Eric McCardle         66-71-68—205

a-Mitchell Schow    69-67-69—205

Neil Johnson          67-68-70—205

Matt Baird               66-66-73—205

Sam Saunders       71-70-65—206

Nick Mason              70-69-67—206

Isaac Merry              66-74-67—207

Jere Pelletier        70-72-66—208

a-Preston Summerhays    68-73-67—208

TK Kim                    71-69-69—209

Edward Olson         69-69-71—209

a-Tyson Shelley      69-69-71—209

Joe Summerhays   68-69-72—209

Craig Hocknull          65-69-75—209

Chris Moody            70-70-70—210

Phillip Reedy         67-71-72—210

Matt Snyder            72-71-68—211

Joseph Harrison        69-73-69—211

Luke Vivilo                68-73-70—211

Derek Fribbs        68-72-71—211

Drew McCullough       72-68-71—211

Chris Dompier         71-71-70—212

a-Tristan Mandur       70-71-71—212

a-Tyler Jones            64-77-71—212

a-Simon Kwon           71-69-72—212

Jimmy Gunn              69-68-75—212

Clay Ogden               74-71-68—213

Justin Keiley              68-72-73— 213

a-Elijah Turner           71-69-73—213

a-David Jennings       73-72-69—214

Josh Anderson           75-69-70—214

Colby Dean                 72-72-70—214

George Markham        71-73-70—214

Tyler Weworski            71-70-73—214

Mitch Carlson              72-70-72—214

Casey Fowles              68-72-74—214

a-Brock Stanger          74-72-69—215

a-Ryan Brimley            69-75-71—215

Tommy Sharp             69-75-71—215

John Murdock           70-71-74—215

C.J. Lee                    74-71-71—216

Derek Ackerman       71-73-72—216

Brandon Kida        72-68-76—216

Perry Cohen           70-73-74—217

B.J. Staten      73-72-72—217

Steele DeWald   68-77-73—218

a-Noah Schone       71-75-72—218

a-Davis Heslington     74-71-73—218

a-Dan Horner         70-73-75—218

Parker Reese         71-71-76— 218

Zach Johnson         72-71-75—218

John Bender       72-70-76—218

Jordan Rodgers      76-69-75—220

Ty Chambers          70-74-76—220