Former BYU star Peter Kuest takes the Utah Open lead

Peter Kuest during the first round of the Utah Open, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, at Riverside Country Club in Provo. Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

Provo • Walking the fairways of Riverside Country Club and carrying a BYU golf bag, Peter Kuest acted like he was just performing in another Cougar Classic.

Except he played even better than usual. Even with two bogeys, Kuest’s 9-under-par 63 topped his best competitive round in Provo and gave him the first-round lead in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.

The rookie pro made four birdies and an eagle in a five-hole stretch of the back nine. He’ll start Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole event with a one-stroke edge over Southern Utah University golfer Tyler Jones of Highland. Craig Hocknull, Glenwild Golf Club’s director of instruction, is third at 65.

Kuest has used his All-America credentials to land five sponsor exemptions into PGA Tour events this summer. He has made only one check ($7,525), though, and could earn nearly twice this much this weekend by winning — even in a state open. He’s comfortable with Riverside and the opportunity for low numbers, that’s for sure.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You know you can make 10 birdies or something like that; you just go out and tear it up.”

After bogeying the par-3 No. 11, Kuest was only 3 under. On the No. 12 tee, he reminded himself, “This is where the stretch starts. You can make six [birdies] in a row, easily.”

Or mix in an eagle, as Kuest did on the par-5 No. 13. He parred the last two holes, missing an 8-foot birdie try on No. 18 and settling for a 63.

Jones was thrilled with his 64, responding well to the pressure of completing a great round.

He found satisfaction in being able “keep my nerves calm,” he said. “It’s not very often I get to shoot that low of a round in a big-time time tournament.”

Jones, a graduate of Lone Peak High School, had to survive a crowded playoff in Monday qualifying at Soldier Hollow Golf Course just to make it into the field at Riverside. He’s the older brother of celebrated junior golfers Zach and Cooper Jones. And if you Google his name and golf, he’s among multiple Tyler Joneses with online biographies.

Jones distinguished himself Friday, though. Short-game issues have hurt him lately, but he solved that problem by hitting all 18 greens in regulation. It’s also true that good chipping enabled him to birdie three of Riverside’s four par-5s.

Hocknull also played a bogey-free round. The 45-year-old Australian merely parred both par-5s on Riverside’s front nine (his second nine), yet he shot 4 under on that side.

Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open

First-round scores


63 – Peter Kuest. 64 – a-Tyler Jones. 65 – Craig Hocknull. 66 – Isaac Merry, Eric McCardle, Matt Baird. 67 – Blake Cannon, Zahkai Brown, Neil Johnson, Phillip Reedy, Kavan Eubank. 68 – Luke Vivolo, Casey Fowles, Steele DeWald, Joe Summerhays, Justin Keiley, Derek Fribbs, a-Kelton Hirsch, a-Preston Summerhays. 69 – Joseph Harrison, Edwards Olson, a-Ryan Brimley, Jimmy Gunn, Hayden Christensen, aMitchell Schow, a-Tyson Shelley, Tommy Sharp, Steve Schneiter. 70 – a-Tristan Mandur, Ty Chambers, Nick Mason, Jere Pelletier, John Murdock, Chris Moody, Perry Cohen, a-Dan Horner. 71 – Derek Ackerman, Samuel Saunders, a-Noah Schone, a-Parker Reese, Chris Dompier, Tyler Weworski, a-Simon Kwon, Tele Wightman, a-Elijah Turner, Bruce Brockbank, George Markham TK Kim. 72 – Kent Hagen, Matt Snyder, a-John Bender, Zach Johnson, Mitch Carlson, Drew McCullough, Colby Dean, Brandon Kida. 73 – Jay O’Fee, Tracy Zobell, Brock Padilla, Jared Barnes, B.J. Staten, a-David Jennings. 74 – CJ Lee, a-Brock Nielsen, a-Preston Wallace, Ryan Kartchner, Todd Tanner, Travis Hilton, Nic Booth, Clay Ogden, Eric Nielsen, a-Ryan Smith, a-Brock Stanger, Jimmy Blair, Dave DeSantis, a-Davis Heslington, Jordan Bloxham.