BYU, UVU golfers at top of leaderboard after first round of stroke-play qualifying at 124th Utah Men’s State Amateur
Utah Valley golfer Landon Anderson and BYU’s Zac Jones are tied for the lead for medalist honors after firing 6-under 66s on Monday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course
MIDWAY — BYU golfers Zac Jones, David Timmins, Keanu Akina and Elijah Turner are apparently not happy that University of Utah golfers have won the last two Utah State Men’s Amateur golf tournaments.
Those three golfers are all in the top five after the first round of stroke-playing qualifying in this year’s State Am, which is being held on the Gold and Silver layouts at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway.
“We’ve got a good team this coming year,” Jones said Monday after firing a 6-under 66 in a morning round on the Silver Course. “We really want to show well up here.”
Jones, a rising sophomore at BYU, said he easily could have gone even lower Monday when conditions in the morning were quite benign, but he made a double-bogey 7 on the 18th hole. He’s tied at 6-under with Utah Valley University golfer Landon Anderson, a Davis High product.
Anderson, also a rising sophomore, made eight birdies on the Silver Course. But a double-bogey on No. 11 cooled off a hot round.
BYU’s Timmins, a Brighton High product, is tied for third place after firing a 67 on the difficult Gold Course. Another Cougar, Akina, shot 67 on the Silver and is right there as well.
BYU’s Turner is in a group at 4-under that also includes incoming Utah redshirt freshman Davis Johnson, Murray’s Peter Kim, Tyson Tanner and Utah State golfer John Cook.
“It was a good day until the last hole,” said Jones, who tees off Tuesday on the Gold Course at 2:10 p.m., and expects more difficult conditions than what Monday presented.
On 18, his tee shot found a fairway bunker, then his second shot went into a penalty area. Then he 3-putted.
He had shot 30 (6-under) on the front nine, playing holes 4-6 in 4-under. He made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 4, chipped in for birdie on No. 5, and then eagled No. 6 by making a 6-footer after hitting a 5-wood that close.
“When I got off to a hot start, I was kinda looking for something really low,” he said. “The Silver Course suits my game well, just with the long par-5s and the hard par-3s. I hit my driver well all day, so I was in the fairway most of the day.”
Jones said he had four eagle putts on those six par-5s. The Silver, which a lot of golfers think is the easier of the two layouts, also features six par-3s.
“The greens are really good, and the course is in good shape,” Jones said. “Conditions were good. The greens weren’t too firm. They were firm last week when I played a practice round, but this morning they were pretty soft.”
Jones’ brother, Cooper Jones, shot 69 on the Silver and is tied for 10th. He won the Salt Lake City Amateur last summer and will be a senior at Lone Peak this fall.
Their dad, Clark Jones, and older brother, Tyler Jones, are also in the field. Tyler Jones is transferring from Southern Utah to Utah Tech.
Zac Jones, who served a church mission in Mexico and Orlando, Florida, after graduating from high school and before enrolling at BYU, said it would be “really cool” to win medalist honors, but that’s not his main goal.
“Being one of those top four seeds is for sure super important, because this field is deep and super good,” Zac Jones said. “The higher up there you get, the less chance you have of running into someone really good early on.”
Zac Jones would also like to avoid playing his brothers, father or BYU teammates as long as possible. Another BYU player in the field, Max Brenchley, shot an even-par 72 on the Gold Course. The Cougars’ top player, Carson Lundell, has been playing a lot nationally this summer and is not in the State Am.
Utah’s Braxton Watts (69) and Oscar Maxfield (69) also played well Monday, and are certainly still alive for medalist honors. Defending champion Martin Leon, also a Ute, fired a 2-under 70 on the Silver Course.
Three-time Mid-Am champ David Jennings, the 37-year-old air traffic controller who was featured in a Deseret News article Sunday, also shot 72.