Jones captures 124th Utah State Amateur Championship
MIDWAY, Utah — BYU sophomore Zac Jones took down Cal’s Simon Kwon 4 & 3 to win the 124th Utah State Amateur Championship at Soldier Hollow Golf Course on Saturday.
“I caddied for my dad when he played in the state am at Soldier Hollow in 2013 and ever since then it has been a huge goal of mine to win it,” said 2022 Utah State Amateur champion Zac Jones. “I had watched other BYU players like Zac Blair, Joe Parkinson, Cole Ogden, Patrick Fishburn, Kelton Hirsch and Daniel Summerhays win the state am, so to add my name to a list with those guys is pretty special.”
After enduring one of the most grueling tests in amateur golf, playing nine rounds in six days, Jones outlasted the Cal freshman to become the 18th Cougar golfer to win the prestigious Utah State Amateur Championship. With the win, Jones joins the likes of Daniel Summerhays, Zac Blair, Patrick Fishburn, Cole Ogden, Bruce Brockbank and other Cougars who have etched their names on the historic trophy.
“Zac is a really talented player, and to see him win on a huge stage like this is really exciting,” said BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank. “It has taken a while for Zac to get his game where he wants it to be after coming back from his mission, so to see all the pieces fall into place this week for him has been awesome."
The 124th Utah State Amateur Championship consisted of a 36-hole stroke play competition before the 288-player field was cut to 64 players who competed in the match play portion of the event.
Jones posted back-to-back rounds of 6-under 66 to win medalist honors and earn the No. 1 overall seed in the match play bracket. Cougars David Timmins, Elijah Turner, Keanu Akina, Max Brenchley and BYU golf communications director Austin Rustand also made the 64-man match play cut.
After securing the No. 1 seed, Jones took on 2007 champion, No. 64 Nick Nelson, who squared the match after winning the second hole before Jones made two birdies in three holes to take an early 3-up lead. The Lone Peak product won holes 11 and 12 to take a 5-up lead, closing Nelson out 5 & 4 to advance to the round of 32.
In the round of 32, Jones faced No. 32 Jacob Wagstaff in a back-and-forth match that featured four lead changes in just the first 9-holes with Jones taking a 1-up lead to the back nine. He extended the lead to two of the 13th, but a bogey on the par-3 16th cut the lead to one with two to play. Jones and Wagstaff carded matching pars on 17 and 18 to give Jones the 1-up victory.
Jones’ round of 16 match against No. 17 Ryan Barber of Alpine Country Club was much less eventful as the sophomore won holes one, two, four and seven to take a 4-up lead through seven holes. After dropping the par-4 ninth, Jones got back on track winning 11 and 12, closing out Barber 5 & 4.
In the quarterfinal, Jones went toe-to-toe with former Utah golfer No. 56 Steven Croft who played for the Utes from 2013-16. Although Jones took an early lead, Croft drew even each time Jones looked to pull away. After drawing within one with a birdie on the par-4 11th, Jones birdied the 17th to close out Croft 2 & 1.
After dropping the first hole of the semi-final to No. 36 John Owen, Jones countered with three straight birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh before adding another on the 10th to take a 3-up lead. Owen kept his comeback hopes alive with a birdie on the par-4 11th, but Jones dashed those hopes by winning the next three holes with two birdies to win the match 5 & 4 earning him a spot in the championship match.
In today’s 36-hole championship match, the BYU sophomore took on Cal freshman No. 55 Simon Kwon. Jones took another early lead as he won the second and fifth holes with birdie before Kwon squared the match by winning the fourth and sixth holes.
With the match square, the BYU sophomore went on a birdie barrage to conclude the opening nine, birdieing the par-5 seventh, the long par-3 eighth and the par-4 ninth to take a 3-up lead. After the turn, Jones extended the lead to 5-up through 12 before Kwon birdied the par-5 17th to draw within four after the morning 18.
Jones picked up right where he left off, making an eagle three on the par-5 second to regain the 5-up lead. Kwon wouldn’t go easily as he birdied seven and eight to cut Jones’ lead to three with 10 holes to play. Jones won three of the next four holes with birdie to again stretch the lead to five with six holes to play, but Kwon stayed alive as he won the 13th and 14th to extend the match.
After two straight bogeys, Jones threaded the needle with his drive on the 14th, leaving himself a wedge into the green which he put just off the front edge. Kwon’s drive found the left rough with his approach sailing just over the green.
Jones nestled his birdie attempt within a foot of the hole for a conceded par and Kwon missed his par putt that would have extended the match. Jones won the match 4 & 3 to add his name to a long list of Cougars who have their name engraved on the Utah State Amateur Championship trophy.