Utah State Amateur will have an all-University of Utah final for the second year in a row
Skyline High product Blake Tomlinson will meet redshirt freshman Martin Leon in Saturday’s 36-hole final at Alpine Country Club
University of Utah golf coach Garrett Clegg celebrated his 41st birthday on Friday.
A couple members of the Utes’ golf team gave him a wonderful present.
For the second-straight year, it will be an all-Utes championship match at the Utah State Amateur, as rising senior Blake Tomlinson and redshirt freshman Martin Leon won their quarterfinal and semifinal matches at Alpine Country Club to advance to Saturday’s 36-hole final.
“It will be fun,” said Tomlinson, a Skyline High product from Salt Lake City. “I am excited to do it again.”
“I am very happy to be playing against Blake (Tomlinson) tomorrow. It is going to be really fun. I am kinda tired to play against BYU players.” — University of Utah golfer Martin Leon
He’s hoping for a slightly different ending.
Tomlinson lost in the final last year to Utes’ teammate Mitchell Schow, who has since turned professional.
Tomlinson said he’s thought about that loss last September “quite a bit. I mean, I try not to dwell on it too much because I still played well. I just got beat. I mean, I was 7 or 8 under through 34 holes, and that just wasn’t good enough that day.”
As for Leon, who is from Santiago, Chile, he said he’s just happy to be playing against a teammate and familiar face.
“I am very happy to be playing against Blake tomorrow,” Leon said. “It is going to be really fun. I am kinda tired to play against BYU players.”
In the semifinals, Leon knocked off BYU graduate Spencer Dunaway 6 and 5, while Tomlinson overwhelmed former Weber State standout Lucas Crapo 5 and 4.
“I played well today,” Tomlinson said, noting that he made 10 birdies in his two rounds. “I played good enough. Luke didn’t have his best today, but he’s still a solid competitor, a solid player. I knew I would be in the hunt. I am excited for tomorrow.”
Tomlinson defeated Alpine member and former Ute golfer Carl Jensen, 41, in the quarterfinal Friday morning, 2 and 1.
He said the key to getting to the championship match was “just staying in the present and taking it hole-by-hole and getting to where I needed to be mentally and physically.”
A few months ago, Tomlinson’s game was trending downward, but with the support of his parents, teammates and coaches at the U. he put together a sensational week — again.
Tomlinson said staying within himself helped him make a comeback in his first match and continue that momentum into his second. He said he will have to bring his best to beat Leon, who he said is “finally starting to play well and come out of his shell to get comfortable.”
“I am going to bring my ‘A’ game tomorrow,” Tomlinson said.
Leon said he didn’t play well in stroke-play qualifying — he was one of 11 players who survived the 16-man playoff Tuesday night — and then “got kinda lucky my first two matches, (the rounds of) 64 and 32.”
Once he hit the round of 16, his confidence grew and he beat BYU’s Keanu Akina 1 up Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning, Leon needed 19 holes to eliminate former champion Dan Horner. The Chilean made a 30-foot birdie putt on Alpine’s No. 1 green for the win, turning the tables on the 43-year-old Horner, who had done similar things to eliminate BYU’s David Timmins in 19 holes Thursday.
“Obviously, I heard, ‘All right, BYU against Utah is like a huge rivalry,’” Leon said. “But for me they were the guys that we had to beat. Like, this is the team we want to beat. And when I had BYU players (against me), obviously you see the BYU fans here at Alpine.”
Leon, who doesn’t have a caddie and only had one supporter on Friday — his father — said his strategy to oust a couple Cougars and a past champion was to “stay focused and stay in the moment and trust my golf.”
Another past champion and former BYU golfer, Kelton Hirsch, lost a quarterfinal to Crapo in 20 holes. Crapo made a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 2 and Hirsch couldn’t top it.
Dunaway got to the semifinals by knocking off BYU teammate Brock Goyen, 2 up.