MIDWAY, Utah (July 9, 2013) -- Nick Smart, playing in the third group of the day, shot an opening round of 68 to lead the Utah State Amateur qualifying field at the mid-point at Soldier Hollow. There are 288 players in the field and after Tuesday’s qualifying the field will be cut to the low 64 players for the match play portion of the tournament.
The weather on Monday was partial in favor of the morning round as the afternoon players battled more wind than the morning players. While there were torrential rain storms along the Wasatch Front during the mid-afternoon there were only a few drops on Soldier Hollow.
One stroke behind Smart with 69s are Casey Halliday, Jeff Jolley, Conner Van Gilder, and Cody Wass. Like Smart, they all played in the morning and will play in the afternoon Tuesday.
It appears that the cut will be around 150 as there are well over 64 players who shot 75 or better during the first round of play. Of course, much depends on the weather.
Joe Parkinson, a defending champion without a match play exemption, is in good shape with an opening round of 70. He won the championship two years ago and then went on an LDS mission. This is his first State Am since winning it. Jon Wright, the defending champion with an exemption shot 73. Last year’s runnerup, Christian Jensen, shot 70.
The finalists of two years ago at Soldier Hollow, champion Jeff Evans shot a 72 and runnerup Stratton Schulz shot a 70.
Cole Ogden, currently on a good run on the amateur circuit, shot 71.
On the bubble and needing to have better rounds Tuesday are former champions Clark Rustand and Dan Horner who shot 75s the first day. With them are Jared Overton, Bill Probst, Tommy Forsman, Mike Jurca, and Nic Booth. At 76 are some perennial match play participants John Owen, Jeff Powars, and Rob Bachman. 15-year-old Rhett Rasmussen is also at 76 and needs to improve his round to make match play. Last year he lost in a 16-man playoff and he probably would like to avoid that this year.
Others who were considered contenders for the title who are in jeopardy of not making it to match play include Mike Branca at 77, Brandon Hargett at 78, former champion Darrin Overson and Brandon Kida at 79. Former runnerup John Tagge is at 81 and former champion Steve Borget is at 82.