Jeremy Ranch • Hours before Utah and BYU once were scheduled to kick off the football season Thursday, Ute freshman golfer Brandon Robison enjoyed what might stand as some of the only duels between the schools’ athletic programs for a while.
Beating two good friends from his Utah Junior Golf Association days made Robison’s first experience of match play in the State Amateur all the more memorable at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club. The Viewmont High School graduate advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals with 2-and-1 victories over current Cougar golfer Cole Ponich and Skyline senior Tyson Shelley, who’s committed to BYU.
“Tyson’s one of my best buddies,” Robison said. “It’s always fun and kind of sad to match up with one of them. You love playing your friends, but one of you is going home bummed out. … I already want to beat whoever I’m playing with, and that adds just another level of fun that we’re friends and it’s Utah against BYU.”
Robison will face Ute senior Mitchell Schow in the quarterfinals; teammate Blake Tomlinson also advanced with a 4-and-3 upset of Jeremy Ranch member Justin Shluker, the No. 1 seed as one of three co-medalists in stroke play. The semifinals will follow in the afternoon, with the 36-hole final match scheduled Saturday (spectators are welcome).
In a rare occurrence, no past, present or future BYU golfer will play beyond the round of 16 in the 122nd State Am. Schow, the No. 2 seed as another co-medalist, already experienced a Ute intrasquad match as he rallied for a 2-and-1 win over Braxton Watts, another incoming freshman. Watts had eliminated BYU’s Kelton Hirsch, the 2017 champion.
Southern Utah’s Jake Vincent is the only other collegian remaining. In another twist, four post-college players made the quarterfinals: 2008 champion Dan Horner of Sandy, Daren Johnson of Las Vegas, Hayden Christensen of St. George and Weber State graduate Luke Crapo.
Horner was 2 down through 13 holes against Dixie State’s Davis Heslington in the afternoon before winning four of the last five holes for a 2-up victory. Excellent iron shots enabled him to win Nos. 14 and 15 with birdies, then he tied No. 16 with a birdie, thanks to what he labeled a “pretty filthy” bunker shot. With one foot out of the sand, he played a lengthy shot to within 3 feet.
Horner then won Nos. 17 and 18 with pars. “I’m pretty patient right now, and I think that helped,” said Horner, who’s the only quarterfinalist in his 40s.
Johnson, 30, is a new name to the Utah Amateur, having won Nevada titles in both stroke play and match play. Johnson defeated Crimson Cliffs High School freshman Boston Bracken in the round of 16. He entered the tournament in search of good competition, intending to turn pro at some point, and got a good recommendation of the State Am as “hallowed” from a friend in Utah. He also learned that amateur golf star Preston Summerhays is a two-time winner of the event.
“That was pretty inspiring,” Johnson said, “so I figured, why not give it a shot?”
Summerhays will tee off Friday in The Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
Round of 32 (seed in parentheses)
Justin Shluker (1) def. Matthew Lyons (32), 1 up; Blake Tomlinson (17) def. Simon Kwon (16), 3 and 1; Dan Horner (8) def, Peyton Hastings (25), 4 and 3; Davis Heslington (9) def. Patrick Horstmann (24), 6 and 5; Jake Vincent (29) def. Nick Killpack (4), 3 and 2; Noah Schone (13) def. Hunter Howe, 3 and 2; Daren Johnson (5) def. Landon Anderson (26), 1 up; Boston Bracken (21) def. Hayden Banz 12), 1 up; Mitchell Schow (2) def. Willard Richards (31), 7 and 5; Braxton Watts (18) def. Kelton Hirsch (15), 4 and 3; Brandon Robison (26) def. Cole Ponich (7), 2 and 1; Tyson Shelley (23) def. John Owen (10), 1 up; Hayden Christensen (3) def. Andy Hess, 4 and 3; Kirk Siddens (14) def. Tristan Mandur (19), 1 up; Brock Stanger (6) def. Derek Penman (27), 5 and 3; Luke Crapo (11) def. Darrin Overson (22), 4 and 3.
Round of 16
Tomlinson def. Shluker, 5 and 3; Horner def. Heslington, 2 up; Vincent def. Schone, 3 and 1; Johnson def. Bracken, 4 and 3; Schow def. Watts, 2 and 1; Robison def. Shelley, 2 and 1; Christensen def. Siddens, 2 and 1; Crapo def. Stanger, 2 up.
Tomlinson vs. Horner; Vincent vs. Johnson; Schow vs. Robison; Christensen vs. Crapo.