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Utah Open golf: Former BYU ace and PGA Tour player Zac Blair wins title

PROVO — For former BYU golfer and current PGA Tour player Zac Blair, winning the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open was never about cashing the $22,000 first-place check on his 33rd birthday, or staying sharp for the last half-dozen or so tournaments on tour when the FedEx Cup Playoffs have concluded.

It was all about making a little bit of golf history, crossing an item off his bucket list and answering some good-natured ribbing from his father, Utah Golf Hall of Famer Jimmy Blair.

“It is just really cool. My dad is my hero. I wish he was here.” — PGA Tour player Zac Blair on winning the Utah Open, like his father Jimmy Blair did in 1981.

Mission accomplished.

After Blair and University of Utah fifth-year senior Javier Barcos of Spain both shot 15-under-par 201 in the 54-hole tournament at Riverside Country Club in Provo, the former Cougar won the title with a par on the fourth playoff hole, the par-3 9th.

“Every year I play in it, (Jimmy Blair) asks when I am going to finally win,” Zac Blair said. “He has always kinda had that little jab at me. Just a little father-son joke.”

Later, when told that he just became only the ninth person to win both the Utah State Amateur and the Utah Open, joining a list that includes his father, Blair choked up a bit.

“It is just really cool,” he said. “My dad is my hero. I wish he was here.”

Jimmy Blair won the 1973 State Amateur at Wasatch Mountain State Park and the 1981 Utah Open at Willow Creek Country Club. Zac Blair won the 2009 State Amateur at Valley View GC in Layton.

The Blairs are believed to be the only father-son duo to win state amateurs and state opens in the country in the history of the sport, according to Paul Pugmire of Utah Golf Radio.

Jimmy Blair made the trip north from St. George to caddy for Zac on Friday, when he shot a 3-under 69 and appeared to be too far out to contend. Jimmy returned home Saturday and was resting there Sunday because of a heart condition.

“Probably the first time he’s seen me in a while golfing,” Zac said. “It is obviously really cool and I am really proud to have that (shared record) with him.”

The other Utahns who have won both the State Am and the Utah Open are C.E. Foley, Ed Kingsley, Billy Johnston, Joe Bernolfo, Bruce Summerhays, Eric Hogg and Patrick Fishburn.

When Barcos’ par putt from about 20 feet out on the fourth playoff hole lipped out, Blair had his first tournament win since he claimed the Korn Ferry Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in 2019, a victory that earned him a PGA Tour card the following year.

“It was awesome,” Barcos said of the playoff. “We both played really good. I hit some great shots, great putts. I thought I was going to drop two of them, but they didn’t go in. … I am really happy overall.”

Barcos will be a fifth-year senior at the U. this fall. On the second playoff hole, he rolled in a 30-footer for birdie, only to watch Blair sink a tricky 10-footer to prolong the playoff.

Barcos admitted that he didn’t know Blair was a PGA Tour player until former Utes teammate Blake Tomlinson, the 2022 Utah Open champion, told him just before the trophy ceremony.

“So that kinda made me feel a little bit better,” Barcos said. “He’s a great player. He played the playoff awesome. He made two great putts. He deserved it, for sure.”

How tight was the tournament? At one point Sunday morning, there was a seven-way tie for first place and a five-way tie for eighth place — a shot back of the leaders.

When it all got sorted out, four players tied for third at 14-under 202: Former BYU golfers Carson Lundell and Rhett Rasmussen, Phoenix pro Gavin Cohen and Las Vegas pro Matt Snyder. Lundell made five straight birdies on the back nine to jump into contention.

State Am champion Simon Kwon, bound for BYU after playing two years at Cal, had the lead late at 15-under, but bogeyed holes 17 and 18 to slip to seventh.

Standing in the 18th fairway, his 54th hole, Blair was at 14-under and figured it “kinda looked hopeless” because a couple others were at 14- or 15-under and still had the par-5 15th hole to play.

But he hit a “perfect 52” (degree wedge) from what he called “120 yards out sea level” to within 3 feet for the tap-in birdie that got him to 15-under. Then the waiting began.

“It was kinda just fingers crossed,” he said.

Backing up a bit, Blair had started to think it wasn’t his day on 14 and 15 when solid birdie putts wouldn’t fall. Then on the par-3 17th, his tee shot landed about 7 feet short, took a hop and collided with the flag stick.

Instead of dropping into the hole or spinning back, it bounced 20 feet right. He just missed that birdie putt, too.

“So definitely (doubt) kinda starts creeping in, like wow, nothing going right,” Blair said. “I had finished second in this event three or four times (including last year), I think. Maybe (I am) just the bridesmaid for this one.”

Nope, not this time. Jimmy Blair will have to find something new to tease his son about.

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