The recent history of the Richard C. Kramer Salt Lake City Amateur shows that the first-round leader rarely wins the 36-hole tournament. Kurt Owen was not convinced he would be the one to alter that theme.
“Honestly, I came in with zero expectations, with all the young guys and college guys right behind me,” said Owen, a 33-year-old insurance agent from Layton. “I expected one of them to go really low.”
That didn't happen Sunday at Bonneville Golf Course. Thanks to steady play and a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 18, Owen started and finished the final round with a two-stroke lead.
He closed with a 3-under-par 69 for a total of 8 under, keeping two patterns intact: His 136 total is right in the range of the annual winning score and, even with the field bunched after the opening round, a playoff hardly ever is needed.
Unlike last year, when University of Utah golfer Mitchell Schow won the event, older players dominated. The leaderboard resembled Friday's finish of the Utah Mid-Amateur, a Utah Golf Association championship for golfers 25 and older at Valley View Golf Course in Layton (Reed Nielsen won that tournament by six strokes on his home course).
David Jennings (70-68), who lives near Owen in Layton, finished second at Bonneville after tying for second in the Mid-Am with Ryan Brimley, who tied for fifth Sunday at 140. Luke Crapo (70-69) tied for third with Jeff Jolley (72-67) at Bonneville, after Crapo took fourth in the Mid-Am.
Owen, though, withdrew from the final round in Layton, due to his history of back trouble. He figured a day's rest was his only chance of making it through the weekend at Bonneville, and the strategy worked.
Ute golfer Blake Tomlinson (69-71) joined the five-way tie for fifth Sunday, after briefly holding the lead. Tomlinson was 4 under for the day and 7 under for the tournament, before a triple bogey derailed him.
Zach Jones (71-69), Tyson Shelley (70-70) and Peyton Hastings (69-71) also tied for fifth.
Jennings got within one stroke of Owen with an eagle on the par-5 No. 16, but Owen's birdie on No. 16, a par-saving putt on No. 17 and his closing birdie on No. 18 kept him in front.
Owen labeled his victory “really satisfying,” saying the SLC Amateur “feels like a major, in the Utah golf arena.”