Provo • Former Richfield High and Dixie State College golfer Dusty Fielding entered the 92nd Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open thinking it or next month’s Sand Hollow Open at his home course in Hurricane would be his last tournament as a playing professional.
“In my mind, my playing days are about over,” he said Friday.
The 35-year-old journeyman who laid flooring last winter and spring with a friend in St. George to make ends meet may have to reconsider his options.
Fielding overcame some nerves down the stretch and bitter memories of past failures in the Utah Open to win going away at Riverside Country Club on Sunday. He finished the 54-hole tournament at 16-under-par 200 to defeat out-of-state pros Blake Cannon, Samuel Saunders and 2016 champion Zahkai Brown of Golden, Colo., by three shots and pocketed the $20,000 first-place check.
“It feels good. I have been trying to win this one for a long time. It feels good to close it out,” Fielding said.
Will it change his retirement plans?
“That’s up in the air,” he said. “It might change my mind on whether I go to Q school or not. But honestly, I have felt like it is time to call it quits. The stress of it all and the constant disappointments just kind of wear you down over time. So I will just enjoy it for now. At this point I don’t really feel like it is changing a whole lot. But, we will see. You never know.”
Fielding started the day a shot behind Brown, who was the low pro last year.
“Honestly, today I felt like the underdog and felt like I was not the front-runner, which a lot of times is easier to play that way,” he said. “I felt like I was crawling, scratching back from behind, trying to get back in the tournament. So I didn’t have those [nervous] thoughts.”
Brown held on to his lead the first nine holes. On the par-4 10th hole, Fielding made a 10-footer for birdie to move into a tie for the lead. He went up by two shots over Brown and Centerville’s Garrett Fotu on the par-3 11th when he made another short birdie putt and Brown made a bogey. Fielding pushed his lead to three shots with birdie on the short par-4 14th hole, then sank a long birdie putt on No. 15 to go up by four shots.
“After that putt on 15, that 40- or 50-footer I made for birdie, after that I knew it was basically my tournament to finish off,” Fielding said.
Disaster almost struck on No. 17, a par-3 that Fielding said he never plays well. He hit his tee shot into a bunker, then left his second shot in the rough and knocked his third shot a good 15 feet past the hole. Meanwhile, Brown had a 6-footer for birdie. However, Fielding sank his putt for bogey and Brown missed his closer putt and had to settle for a par.
“I wanted to make that putt as much as any putt I had all day,” Fielding said. “That made things easier, coming up the last hole. It would have been a lot tighter, had I not made that one.”
Said Brown: “They cut the hole a half-inch too small today. … I played well. The ball just didn’t go in the hole today.”
Fotu, a Lone Peak High product, was also happy with the way he played. His undoing was a double-bogey on No. 12 when he hit his approach over the green and then whiffed on a shot in knee-high grass.
“It was a really awesome experience,” Fotu said. “I was just happy to learn a lot from these guys and know that sometimes it is just not your day. … My putter just wasn’t as hot as it was yesterday [when he shot a 65], and I had a couple bad holes that kind of bit me in the butt.”
Fielding finished it off in style, sticking a pitching wedge from 175 yards out to within inches of the flag and tapping in for birdie on No. 18.
“Basically, I told myself to ‘man up and stuff one in there,’” Fielding said.
University of Utah golfer Kyler Dunkle was the low amateur and tied for fifth place at 204. Scott Brandt, director of golf at Bloomington Country Club in St. George, was the low
92nd Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open
Sunday’s Final Scores (a-denotes amateur)
200 — Dusty Fielding (64-69-67)
203 — Blake Cannon (64-71-68), Samuel Saunders (65-69-69), Zahkai Brown (66-66-71)
204 — Mitch Carlson (69-70-65), a-Kyler Dunkle (70-67-67), Tyler Weworski (67-70-67), Gregor Main (70-65-69), Garrett Fotu (68-65-71)
205 — Edward Olson (63-73-69)
206 — Neil Johnson (68-72-66)
207 — Zach Johnson (69-69-69), a-Mitchell Schow (69-68-70), a-Blake Tomlinson (67-69-71)
208 — a-Rhett Rasmussen (69-67-72)
209 — Joel Skarbo (71-68-70), Patrick Fishburn (71-67-71), Davis Garner (68-69-72), Joe Parkinson (72-66-71), Russell Grove (60-67-72), Nicholas Mason (66-69-74)
210 — Pete Fernandez (66-74-70), Riley Arp (69-70-71), Tommy Sharp (69-70-71), a-Cole Ponich (70-68-72)
211 — Dean Wilson (71-71-69), Joe Summmerhays (70-70-71), Brandon Kida (67-73-71), CJ Lee (67-73-71), a-Dan Horner (71-69-71), Zach Pritchard (65-72-74)
212 — Steele Dewald (72-70-70), Matt Snyder (71-72-69), BJ Staten (69-70-73)
213 — Samuel Cyr (68-73-72), Clay Ogden (71-70-72), a-David Jennings (71-69-73)
214 — Sam Mandel (74-70-70), a-Zach Jones (69-72-73), Jesse Mueller (70-68-76), Todd Tanner (69-69-76), a-Kirk Siddens (67-69-78)
215 — Peter Lansburgh (73-71-71), Chris Moody (70-74-71), Seokwon Jeon (70-73-72), Jacob Holt (69-69-77)
216 — a-Ryan Brimley (67-75-74), a-Chase Lansford (70-72-74)
senior and Davis Park assistant Zach Johnson was the lowest finishing member of the Utah Section PGA, which presented a $50,000 to its chosen charity in the event, Utah Special Olympics.