Midway • Nothing leading up to the Utah State Amateur golf tournament this week suggested that University of Utah junior Colton Tanner would rise to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of stroke-play qualifying for match play.
But as the current Park City resident notes, “golf can be funny that way.”
And now he’s doing all the smiling. Tanner became the surprise medalist Tuesday afternoon after shooting a 3-under-par 69 on the Gold Course to go with the 5-under 67 he shot on the Silver Course on Monday for a 36-hole total of 8-under 136.
Defending champion Preston Summerhays bogeyed his final hole Tuesday or he would have tied Tanner for medalist honors. He finished at 7 under and said he was aware of how he stood going into the final hole.
“It’s not super important [to win medalist],” Summerhays said. “I wanted to do it going into the week, but the No. 1 goal is just to get to match play.”
Meanwhile, Summerhays’ sister, Grace, who turned 15 on Tuesday, celebrated her birthday by becoming the second woman ever to make match play at the State Am. She fired an even-par 72 on the Gold Course to finish at 2-over 146 and tied for 29th in stroke-play qualifying.
“I don’t really have anything to lose at this point,” Grace said after matching Annie Thurman Young’s feat from 2004.
Preston seconded that notion, saying he is “super excited for her” and that he knew she could do it.
“She’s a 14-year-old girl,” Preston said, briefly forgetting the birthday. “Whoever plays her is going to have a tremendous amount of pressure on them.”
That will be former USU golfer Brennan Coburn.
Tanner redshirted his first season at Utah, then played in only three tournaments last season and couldn’t crack the starting rotation. But he saved his best for this summer — after getting some good instruction from teaching pro Corey Badger at the Golf Lab in Salt Lake City — and is suddenly a threat to win the whole thing.
“I really thought I had a good chance of playing really well,” Tanner said. “You don’t want to put a number on it, so I don’t want to say I thought about winning, but I told my dad [Kirk] that I felt really good about my game and might have a chance at the whole thing.”
Tanner’s round Tuesday consisted of an eagle and four birdies to offset three bogeys. Monday, he made a 50-foot putt for birdie on No. 8 and has rolled ever since.
Although his parents are Utah graduates, Tanner attended high school in Dallas and Connecticut and at a boarding school in South Carolina, the International Junior Golf Academy. Twice before he’s made it to the Round of 64, but fell in the opening rounds two and three years ago.
“The motto me and my mom [Diane] have had yesterday and today was to just send it — not hold back,” he said. “I feel if I can just kinda let myself go, I can give it a pretty good run. But anything can happen. All the players who will make it to the 64 are going to be pretty good.”
Match play begins Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m.
As usual, Tuesday’s thickest drama focused on the cut for match play, and the pressure-filled playoff for the final few berths. Twelve golfers who shot 5-over 149 entered the playoff for the final nine spots.
Tommy Johnson, Patrick Horstmann, Christopher Romney, Greg Slack, Zane Brownrigg, Aaron Smith and Brett Garner made pars on the first hole and advanced.
Kurt Owen and 15-year-old Cooper Jones made birdies on the second playoff hole to advance, ousting Alex Smith, Bryan Dalton and Bob Mitchell.
Owen, the Salt Lake City Amateur champ, and his playing partners earlier Tuesday, Kyler Dearden and Hunter Howe, were assessed one-stroke penalties for slow play or Owen would not have been forced into the playoff. Dearden and Howe both qualified, but got worse seeds because of the penalties.
“A tough break,” Dearden said, noting that the group was slowed because it spent 21 minutes looking for lost balls on three consecutive holes. “Hopefully karma will be on my side tomorrow.”
Owen declined to comment on the matter.
121st Utah State Amateur
Stroke-Play Qualifying Results
136 — Colton Tanner (67-69)
137 — Preston Summerhays (67-70)
139 — Cole Ponich (73-66)
140 — Colton Dallimore (72-68)
141 — Denny Job (72-69), Cameron Tucker (72-69), Mitchell Schow (73-68)
142 — Nathan Ouimette (65-77), Masen Ward (71-71), Brigham Gibbs (68-74)
143 — Kelton Hirsch (71-72), Chase Lansford (75-68), Tanner Telford (73-70), Christopher Cheney (71-72), Carl Jensen (72-71)
144 — Triston Gardner (73-71), Dan Horner (72-72), Reed Nielsen (70-74), Cole Ogden (71-73)
145 — Jake Vincent (74-71), Alec Williams (71-74), Joshua Pehrson (74-71), Peyton Hastings (68-77), Ryan Barber (75-70), Spencer Dunaway (72-73), Thomas Young (73-72), Braydon Swapp (76-69)
146 — Boston Watts (77-69), Ryan Brimley (75-71), Dylan Chugg (74-72), Spencer Wallace (78-68), Kyler Dearden (70-76), Brennan Coburn (73-73), Ryan Seamons (73-73), Blake Murray (72-74), Grace Summerhays (74-72)
147 — Jayce Frampton (77-70), Nick Becker (73-74), John Owen (74-73), Steven Croft (75-72), Hunter Howe (74-73), Derek Penman (72-75), Andrew Cottle (73-74), Joshua Lansky (71-76), Kyle Tueller (74-73), Clay Bingham (75-72), John Reid (74-73), Cole Wecker (73-74), Michael Branca (76-71),
148 — Elijah Turner (73-75), Tanner Alder (73-75), Paul Cannon (73-75), Clark Jones (71-77), Noah Schone (77-71)
149 — *Tommy Johnson (71-78), *Aaron Smith (73-76), Alex Smith (73-76), *Patrick Hortsmann (73-76), *Zane Brownrigg (75-74), Bob Mitchell (74-75), *Kurt Owen (69-80), Bryan Dalton (73-76), *Christopher Romney (73-76), *Greg Slack (74-75), *Cooper Jones (77-72), *Brett Garner (73-76). * - Denotes playoff survivor
Did not make cut
150 — Brady Bigler (74-76), Tanner Taft (77-73), Helaman Ofahengaue (80-70), Patrick Murphy (78-72), Jason Hargett (74-76), Logan Skalka (76-74), Tyler Labrum (73-77), Christian James (75-75), Eric Loveland (77-73), Joshua Savage (71-79), Lane Season (71-79)
151 — David Jennings (77-74), Steve Borget (75-76), Tommy Forsman (76-75), Randy Hicken (76-75), Brendan Dennis (77-74), Caden Hamill (76-75), Willard Richards (77-74),
152 — Brock Nielson (78-74), Zack Neff (74-78), Preston Wallace (79-73), Sean Lam (75-77), Joshua Lillywhite (81-71), Greg Baumgartner (74-78), Jeff Jolley (75-77), Lucas Schone (73-79)