Sandy • Web.com Tour golfer B.J. Staten loves everything about the Utah Championship and Willow Creek Country Club, and not just because he fired an 8-under 63 on Thursday to grab a share of the first-round lead.
After all, the former Texan met the woman who is now his wife here three years ago, and now lives in a home just above the 12th fairway.
B.J. Staten -8
Brian Prouty -8
Kevin Foley -7
Adam Hadwin -7
Derek Fathauer -7
Matt Weibring -7
Dusty Fielding -3
Clay Ogden -3
Zach Johnson E
Derek Penman E
"Just one of those storybook things," Staten said. "I am very blessed to have found her."
More on that later.
For now, Staten, 35, sits atop the leaderboard with Brian Prouty, 29, a former University of Arizona star who has made just two cuts in 10 Web.com Tour events this season and is ranked No. 182 on the money list. Not that anybody saw Staten’s 63 coming, either. He’s 106th.
But on an overcast, unseasonably cool day at par-71 Willow Creek, both golfers putted extremely well and finished well before the late-afternoon winds kicked up and a sudden rainstorm, accompanied by lightning, halted play at 6 p.m. for 20 minutes.
"It was fun — a lot of fun," said Prouty, a certified ski instructor, as well as a mighty fine golfer, from Tucson. "And [having a share of the lead] is better than being behind."
Penn State product Kevin Foley, currently 15th on the money list, is a shot behind Staten and Prouty, as are two former University of Louisville golfers — Canadian Adam Hadwin, and Derek Fathauer of Jensen Beach, Fla. Matt Weibring, son of former PGA Tour regular D.A. Weibring, is also at 7-under.
But this day belonged to Staten, who used his course knowledge and familiarity with the greens to drain putt after putt, including an 8-footer on his final hole to cap a round he said was a lot of fun.
"It is a great way to start the week, especially being a hometown guy," he said.
Coincidentally, it was near that green — just across Willow Creek Drive on the No. 10 tee (No. 1 for Willow Creek members) where Staten first met Sandy’s Alisha Reverman.
During the Pro-Am in 2010, Staten was playing with some amateur golfers and Reverman was doing some outsourcing for Eureka Casino of Mesquite, Nev., when he struck up a conversation with her. After his round, he purposefully worked on his putting on the practice green closest to the 10th tee so he could bump into her again.
When he did, he handed her a note with his phone number on it, saying that if she needed more golf tips, to give him a call.
She texted him later that night and the two got together for dinner in Park City the following night and talked for three hours.
"I guess I can pretty much say the rest is history," Staten said as Alisha pushed a baby stroller past the tee box where they first met almost three years ago to the day.
The couple were married in 2011 and chose to live in Utah, despite its harsh winters that aren’t exactly conducive to honing one’s golf game.
"It just felt right," Staten said. "I was living in Austin [Texas] at the time. But I love to ski and I love to fly fish, so it was a really good fit for us. The people are so great here. I enjoy it every time I get to come home. The people at Willow Creek have been so great, so nice. They let me come out and practice and play. It is a wonderful place."
And Thursday’s 63 just made it a little bit better.
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