What a putt! Tess Blair wins Utah Women’s Open with 50-foot birdie on final hole
Blair, who will be a fifth-year senior at Sacramento State this fall, gets the silver trophy, but Colorado’s Bryce Ray earns the $1,500 first-place check as the low professional
For the fourth-straight year, a collegiate golfer has won the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open, but the low professional will take home the $1,500 first-place check.
Former Bingham High golfer Tess Blair, who will be a fifth-year senior at Sacramento State this fall, made a dramatic and clutch 50-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Tuesday afternoon at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club in Lehi to win by a stroke.
Blair finished the 36-hole event at 6-under 138 and edged professional Bryce Emily Ray, who was known as Bryce Schroeder when she played collegiately at Wichita State before turning pro.
Ray, from Pueblo, Colorado, fired a 5-under 67 on Tuesday to climb the leaderboard, overcoming what was a five-shot deficit at one point on her back nine.
Blair got to 8 under (and the five-shot lead) with a birdie on 13, but took a double-bogey on 14 and a bogey on 17 to lose the lead as Ray charged late, making four birdies on the difficult back nine at TPGC.
However, Blair recovered nicely after wobbling down the stretch, and sunk the memorable putt to add to her trophy collection. She won the Utah Women’s State Am in 2018 before her freshman year at Sac State, and has also claimed the Women’s Stroke Play title and the Mary Lou Baker Open in recent years.
She was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in 2019-20.
Bountiful pro Haley Sturgeon and defending champion Kerstin Fotu, a BYU golfer, tied for third at 3 under. Sturgeon claimed the $1,250 check for second place as Fotu, like Blair, is still an amateur and can’t collect prize money.
Orem teenager Rachel Lillywhite and Arizona’s Leighton Shosted, both amateurs, tied for fifth at 1-over 145.
Veronica Joels, the 2020 champion, was in a group at 2 over that tied for seventh and also included recent Utah Women’s Am champ Kelsey Chugg, BYU golfer Lila Galea’i, Wyoming’s Ali Mulhall, former New Mexico golfer Sarah Salvo, incoming BYU freshman Berlin Long, recent Timpview graduate Sunbin Seo and Abbey Porter of Alpine.
Blair placed third last year, as Fotu won the event but former University of Wyoming golfer Gabrielle Gibson was the low pro.
Former BYU golfer Lea Garner won the first two Utah Women’s Open championships, in 2017 and 2018 when the tournament was held at East Bay GC in Provo (now called Timpanogos Golf Course). In 2019, University of San Francisco golfer Annika Borrelli won the event, but Sirene Blair (Tess’ older sister) won the $2,500 first-place check as the low pro.