Utah Women’s Golf State Amateur, starting Monday in Farmington, has golfers from all walks of life

Utah Women's Golf State Amateur, starting Monday in Farmington, has golfers from all walks of life

The 2020 Utah Women’s State Amateur golf tournament semifinals featured an associate golf program director with Salt Lake City, two college golfers and a 16-year-old future college golfer.

Usually, that’s how the final four of the tournament looks. But before the tournament gets to the business end, everyone has to go through Monday stroke play qualifying.

So those high-level college golfers will be joined by fellow college golfers, high school kids, junior high kids and regular working adults taking time off work to take a swing at the tournament.

It’s one of the unique things about the tournament that begins Monday, June 28, at a drier-but-still-mostly-green Oakridge Country Club in Farmington with stroke play qualifying, followed by match play rounds Tuesday through Thursday.

One player is Tess Blair, a Bingham High alumnus, current Sacramento State golfer who won the Big Sky individual championship this spring by eight shots, and the 2018 state amateur champion who enters 2021 as a possible favorite.

“Anyone can win in match play, I think that’s what makes it really exciting and it’s a true test of your mental, your physical game,” Blair said. “There’s a lot of talented junior golfers and I’m sure I’ll run into most of them.”

Another player is Aubree Johnson, a recent Bonneville High graduate who took fifth at the 5A state golf tournament. There’s Caylyn Ponich, a Davis High graduate now playing at Utah Valley University who grew up off the No. 2 fairway at Oakridge.

Another is Victoria Castro, a recent Davis High graduate who finished fifth individually at the 6A state golf tournament, played the final four holes even par and helped the Darts win the team championship by one shot.

There’s some Weber State golfers, including seniors Taitum Beck and Molly Holbert. There’s former Weber State golfers including Kelsey Chugg, a four-time Women’s State Amateur champion who last won the tournament at Davis Park in 2017, and Aimee Williams, a Weber County real estate agent.

“When I was out watching my daughter play high school (golf), I just contemplated and thought, you know I miss this,” Williams said on Wednesday. “I really love competitive golf. Yeah, I’m excited. I am a little bit, I wouldn’t call it nervous, just worried. I want to play well.”

Williams went to Ogden High and played on the boys golf team from the back tees, which made her a better golfer, she said. Then she went to Weber State, finished second in the Big Sky twice, took third once, made the All-Big Sky team four times, got a teaching degree and taught until she had children.

A few years ago, she started working in real estate at John W. Hansen & Associates in South Ogden. Williams played in the state am a few years ago and didn’t play well, but her dad encouraged her to sign up and she thought, well why not?

“I’m really looking forward to having fun, and I would love to make match play,” Williams said.

There’s a group that tees off about an hour before Williams features Annette Gaiotti, the Utah Senior Women’s Player of the Year, playing with Syracuse High alumnus and Glenville State (Division II in West Virginia) golfer Libby Ward, and a Richfield High graduate named Ellie Hair, the second-place finisher at the 2019 3A state tournament.

People from all walks of life normally converge at the state am, though one notable figure won’t be playing at Oakridge next week. That’s Grace Summerhays, a 16-year-old Arizonan — her dad, Boyd Summerhays, is Tony Finau’s swing coach — who won last year’s tournament and became the youngest golfer to do so.

One factor more in the spotlight this year is the severe drought gripping the state of Utah, which means more rollout when hitting shots on the fairways, some drier spots around the course and another thing to test the golfers’ minds in the heat of the early summer.

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