You won’t believe what this Colorado pro did to win the Utah Open golf tournament Sunday
Derek Fribbs, a mini-tour player from Aurora, Colorado, made a rare double eagle on the 15th hole at Riverside Country Club and claimed the title in Provo
It took a rare double eagle to do it, but Colorado pro Derek Fribbs hopes he will now be known in golf circles for something other than a fight he witnessed on a golf course in a Monday qualifier before the Korn Ferry Tour’s Wichita Open last June.
Fribbs, who will celebrate his 31st birthday Monday with a $20,000 winner’s check, claimed the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open championship on Sunday thanks in part to a 2 he made on the par-5 15th hole at Riverside Country Club in Provo, the 51st hole of the tournament.
“There was a guy behind the green that walked up, peeked over, and put his hands in the air. But I didn’t believe it until I officially went and got it out of the hole.” — Derek Fribbs on his double eagle at the Utah Open.
Call it an albatross, a double eagle, or anything you like, the feat is more rare than a hole-in-one. For Fribbs, who is from Aurora, Colorado, and played golf for the University of Colorado, it was especially sweet because former Boise State golfer T.K. Kim had just chipped in for eagle on No. 14 to pull within a shot of the leader.
“There was a guy behind the green that walked up, peeked over, and put his hands in the air,” said Fribbs, who didn’t see the ball go in the hole because he was 215 yards away. “But I didn’t believe it until I officially went and got it out of the hole.”
Staked to a four-shot lead over Kim, who parred the 15th, Fribbs coasted home to the win, finishing at 23-under-par 193 in the 54-hole tournament. Kim was alone in second at -20, while former PGA Tour regular Daniel Summerhays of Fruit Heights tied for third with Matt Marshall, a former UC Davis golfer from Oregon.
Summerhays, 37, shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday to zoom up the leaderboard; A 71 on Saturday kept the former BYU golfer and one-year Davis High school teacher from making things interesting on Sunday.
“I am playing pretty good,” Summerhays said. “You throw a 63 (on Friday) and a 65 up there and you are playing pretty good. Again, I think my game is suited for every different kind of course.”
Aside from playing in the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school in November in hopes or regaining full status on that tour, Summerhays still isn’t sure how much tour golf he will play in the future.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said after what was, remarkably, his first-ever appearance in the Utah Open. “I’m still mulling it over; I like playing when I want to and enjoying it when I play.”
Fellow Coloradoan Zahkai Brown, a past Utah Open champion responsible for getting Fribbs to play in the event three years ago, tied for fifth with Isaac Merry of Las Cruces, New Mexico, a former NMSU golfer.
“If we couldn’t have a Utah winner, I am delighted to have a winner from Colorado,” said Ned Siegfried, who said it was his company’s 20th year sponsoring the Utah Open and noted that the “plan” is to be involved for at least 20 more. The partners recently sold the company to some other attorneys in the firm, but Siegfried said the new owners remain committed to the event.
Former BYU player and PGA Tour champion Dean Wilson, a past Utah Open champion, was the low senior winner. Tommy Sharp and Riverside head pro Chris Moody tied for low Utah Section PGA pro honors.
The low amateur was BYU golfer Cole Ponich, who tied for ninth.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo shot a 73 Sunday to finish at 4-under 212 and tied for 42nd. An amateur who makes more than $17 million annually as a CBS Sports NFL analyst, Romo won $180 in merchandise credit at the Riverside Pro Shop for his efforts.
Kerstin Fotu, the BYU golfer who became the first women in history to make the cut at the Utah Open, took 59th.
Back to Fribbs, who planned to drive through the night back to Colorado with Brown and will fly to Dallas soon for pre-qualifying for Q school. He said he hit his driver well all day, which enabled him to pass Marshall, 36, the tournament leader after two rounds after shooting a course-record tying 62 on Friday and a 65 on Saturday.
“I have been working with my coaches on getting some more distance, and it has paid off,” Fribbs said. “I hit it pretty straight today so I had a lot of good looks at birdie. … It just gave me a big advantage being able to hit it far, and then also being in the fairway.”
Fribbs said the win ranks “pretty high up there” on his list of accomplishments in golf. It was his second double eagle, easily surpassing in importance the one he had in a practice round with a friend in Grand Junction, Colorado, a few years ago.
After Kim’s chip-in eagle, Fribbs told himself to ignore it and keep playing the kind of golf he’d been playing to that point. It was the first time all week his tee shot on No. 15 landed in the fairway, he said.
His 7-iron from 215 yards out was the “perfect shot” and it landed about 8 feet short of the hole, took one hop and then trickled in, he heard.
So “double eagle to win the Utah Open” should now come up on Google when Fribbs and golf are searched together, instead of that other deal in Wichita.
“I knew that (question) was coming,” he said, laughing, at the post-tournament news conference. “At least I am the good guy in the story. I wasn’t beat up or arrested.”
And he’s got that oversized $20,000 check to prove it.