Midway • Cole Ogden had never made it past the first round of match play in three previous tries at the Utah State Amateur Championship. But on Saturday at Soldier Hollow Golf Club, Ogden captured the title with a 6 and 4 victory over Jeff Evans.
The match ended on the 14th green the 32nd hole of the 36-hole final match when Ogden shot a birdie 3 and Evans shot a par 4. That gave Ogden a 6-up lead over Evans with just four holes left.
"The second round, I started playing better," Ogden said. "I started hitting it better, my wedges were more controlled. And putting the whole week has been the best part of my game."
Ogden, a 21-year-old BYU golfer from West Point, won medalist honors earlier in the week during the stroke play portion of the tournament to earn the No. 2 seed behind last year's champion. It's only the second time in the tournament's history that the stroke play medalist has won the match play portion.
In three previous tries, Ogden had missed qualifying for match play once and been knocked out in the first round of match play twice. He was nearly knocked out of the tournament in the first round again this year, needing extra holes to get past Craig Wilson.
"That was probably my toughest match in this whole thing, was my first match against the No. 63 seed," Ogden said.
On Saturday, Ogden needed just 14 of the final 18 holes and seemed to get stronger as the match progressed, while Evans struggled after the first 18. Ogden said his cool, calm demeanor was masking how he felt.
"I wouldn't say I wasn't nervous," Ogden said. "Anytime you're trying to win a big championship, you're going to be nervous. I just try to stay calm and trust my pre-shot routine and trust what I've always been working on."
After finishing the first 18 holes all square, and after both finalists shot par 4 on the 19th hole, Ogden birdied 20 and 21 to move to 2-up. He birdied 26 and 27 to take a 4-up lead with nine to play.
Evans got a hole back when he nearly holed-out for eagle on 28, but Ogden shot birdie-par-birdie-birdie on the final four holes to put the match out of reach and claim his title as the best amateur golfer in Utah.
"The first 18, I hung in there," Evans said. "I didn't know where [my shots] were going on the second 18. â¦ It happens in golf. You lose it. You're not going to hit it good every time, and unfortunately I had a few holes in a row where I didn't hit it where I wanted."
Evans started strong, getting out to a 3-up lead after the fifth hole. But Ogden fought back to square the match on the 10th hole. He went 1-up on 11.
The next four holes, Ogden stayed 1-up until Evans squared the match on 15. On 16, Ogden again went 1-up with a birdie, but his bogie on 17 and Evans' par squared the match again. Both golfers birdied the 18th hole to end the first round and send the match into the last 18 all square.