Provo • Professional golfers are always looking for places to play, so Lea Garner was thrilled last year when the Utah Section PGA launched the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open.
She loved the concept even more Thursday afternoon, having remained the only champion in tournament history.
The former BYU golfer completed a five-stroke victory at East Bay Golf Course, playing a fairly stress-free final round in contrast to her win last August that required a birdie on the 18th hole. Her strategy of “just kind playing my own game and not worrying about what everyone else was doing” worked nicely, as she pulled away in the middle of the round to earn the $2,000 first prize.
The creation of the Women's Open is “awesome,” said Garner, who attended Bonneville High School. “I love that we're having it now, when girls golf is growing more and more.”
Garner finished ahead of Utah Valley University's Carly Dehlin and Colorado State's Katrina Prendergast. Bingham High School's Tess Blair (69-73) placed fourth, a week after winning the Women's State Amateur title. Catherine Kim of Las Vegas (69-76) was fifth overall and second among the 10 pros in the field.
After shooting a 9-under par 63 with nine birdies Thursday, Prendergast took low amateur honors with a par on the third playoff hole. Prendergast entered the event as a chance to visit CSU teammate Jessica Sloot, the State Am runner-up.
Garner posted a 4-under-par 68 on Wednesday and was tied for the lead with Annie Yang, her former BYU teammate. She followed with a 67 for a total of 9 under par — two strokes higher than last year when she edged Blair’s sister, Sirene.
Good ball-striking and “just awesome” putting that resulted in 13 birdies in two days carried Garner to the win, with BYU coach Carrie Roberts as her caddie. Garner has spent part of the past year helping her father, Blair, launch the men’s and women’s golf programs at Southern Virginia University. She has played the Cactus Tour in Arizona this summer, with a best finish of third place.
The Women’s Open winner gets an exemption into the traditional Utah Open next week at Riverside Country Club in Provo. Garner competed in that event last August, but this year she’s traveling to the first stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in California.
UTAH WOMEN’S OPEN
135 – Lea Garner (68-67).
140 – Katrina Prendergast (77-63), Carly Dehlin (73-67).
142 – Tess Blair (69-73).
145 – Catherine Kim (69-76), Annie Yang (68-77).
146 – Samantha Crawford (78-68), Kerstin Fotu (71-75).
147 – Jessica Sloot (74-73), Haley Sturgeon (73-74).
148 – Laura Gerner (72-76).
149 – Marissa Louder (73-76).
150 – Cailyn Cardall (76-74).
151 – Ashley Malaska Moss (77-74), Sadie Palmer (76-75).
152 – Anna Kennedy (74-78), Karen Valcarce (77-75), Juli Erekson (76-76).
153 – Emily Jones (73-80).
154 – Cassandra Campos (74-80).