FARMINGTON — BYU golfer Carson Lundell was at the Cougars’ practice facility at Fox Hollow Golf Course in American Fork last week preparing to play in next week’s Western Amateur in the Chicago area when he got a “random text “ from an unknown phone number. 

Turns out it was PGA Tour star Tony Finau, asking Lundell if he had a few minutes to chat.

“I am like, yeah, sure, what’s up?” Lundell said.

Finau, who won the 3M Open in Minnesota on Sunday, told Lundell that there was a sponsor’s exemption available to him to play in next week’s Utah Championship on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour if he wanted it. Lundell jumped at the opportunity, and withdrew from the Western Am the next day.

“It was just a total shock to me, and I am so, so grateful for the consideration and the opportunity to play in Utah where I am from and have played my whole life in a tournament like this.” — BYU golfer Carson Lundell

“It was just a total shock to me, and I am so, so grateful for the consideration and the opportunity to play in Utah where I am from and have played my whole life in a tournament like this,” said the former Lone Peak High product. 

In a news conference Tuesday at Oakridge Country Club, site of this year’s Utah Championship for the sixth straight year, officials announced that Lundell, 24, and 26-year-old Patrick Flavin have received unrestricted exemptions into the tournament.

Former BYU golfer Peter Kuest, 24, and former BYU golfer and PGA Tour regular Daniel Summerhays, 38, are receiving restricted exemptions.

Flavin played for four years at Miami (Ohio) University and recently tied for 10th at the John Deere Classic in his home state of Illinois to all but ensure he will meet the nonmember FedEx Cup points threshold to play in the KFT qualifying finals.

Eight more spots are open in a qualifying event at TalonsCove Golf Club in Saratoga Springs on Monday.

Two other BYU golf products — Zac Blair and Patrick Fishburn — will also play at Oakridge next week. The tournament begins Thursday, Aug. 4, and runs through Aug. 7. 

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Fishburn, an Ogden native who also spoke at Tuesday’s news conference, ranks 71st on the KFT money list with five tournaments remaining. Blair is rehabbing after an injury took him away from competitive golf the last little while.

“I think we have had tremendous success come out of this exemption program, so far, and (we) look for more in the future,” said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, which hosts the tournament with Zions Bank as the presenter. The USC selects the exempt players in conjunction with the sponsors, the KFT and the Tony Finau Foundation.

“I am super, super excited to be here,” Lundell said. “I can’t thank Jeff and Tony enough for giving me this exemption.”

Lundell will compete as an amateur because he plans to return to BYU for a fifth season allowed by the NCAA due to the pandemic shortening the 2019-20 season.

“I have one more year of college golf at BYU, and hopefully I will be where these guys are all at in a few years — playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, making my way to my dream of being on the PGA Tour,” Lundell said. “I am super excited for next week and I want to be as prepared as possible. I am so thankful for the opportunity.”

Kuest, from Fresno, California, played at BYU from 2016-20 and recorded 10 career wins and was a first-team All-American. He’s played in 11 Korn Ferry Tour events this season, making five cuts. He said he was “way down” the list to get into the event, so the exemption is needed and much-appreciated.

“This is an incredible opportunity for me just to showcase my abilities and play the game I love,” he said. “I know I am not from Utah, but every time I (see) Tony he jokes around that Utah golf has claimed me. So I am extremely grateful for that, and to everyone for giving me this opportunity to follow my dreams and follow that PGA Tour dream and just keep playing and have another opportunity to (make) the (KFT) playoffs.”

Kuest has made American Fork his home base after living in Las Vegas for a year. Professional golf is a tough business, he said, so getting this kind of opportunity isn’t something to take for granted.

“I’m incredibly lucky and fortunate,” he said. “I’m just really, really grateful.”

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Fishburn, whose home base is now less than 10 miles from Oakridge, is excited to sleep in his own bed these next two weeks — the KFT is off this week — and spend time with his young son, Bo. Another boy is on the way in December.

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“Talking with a lot of the fellow players on the Korn Ferry Tour, they all love coming to Utah, and they have their week planned out with things to do up in Park City and the mountains and the community,” Fishburn said. “They love the golf course. It is a great track, and a great setup, and it is going to be a great week. I am looking forward to it.”

Summerhays, who spent the spring volunteering as a BYU assistant golf coach, a position he will likely leave, will be playing in his fourth straight Utah Championship — a couple times on his own status and a couple times on an exemption.

He thanked the tour, the sponsors and all involved for “continuing to support the best Korn Ferry Tour event of the year.”

“Again, gratitude is the name of the game,” Summerhays said. “I am really lucky to be playing still, with whatever status I have, or whatever capacity I can play golf (at). I still love to play, whether retired, unretired, semiretired. I will let you guys guess that because I don’t know, either.”

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