Robert McRae leads Utah Amateur after day one
Robert McRae
Robert McRae

MIDWAY, Utah — Exactly 64 players shot even par or better in the first round of the Utah State Amateur Championship Monday at Soldier Hollow. Sixty-four is also the number of players who will advance into the match play portion of the tournament after Tuesday’s second round of stroke play, thus if the second day is duplicated there will be no traditional playoff for the final match spots.

That means tension is building dramatically at Soldier Hollow and Tuesday will be White Knuckle Day for the dozens of players hanging around par. An even par score for two days looks like a safe qualifying number and anything in red figures for two days appears safe, but players can’t count on making match play with anything over par for the two days.

There are 23 players at even par, and another 23 players at one over par, and 14 players at one under par. That’s a total of 60 players within two shots of each other.

Those scores are also subject to some comparative disparity because the qualifying section of the tournament is being played on both the Silver and Gold Courses. The Gold Course played a little more difficult than the Silver Course, and that makes the halfway scores a bit less meaningful.

Of the 64 lowest scores posted the first day only 24 of them came on the Gold Course. However, considering all the scores there was only a half-stroke difference between the two courses.

Robert McRae, younger brother of former champion Michael McRae, shot the best score of the first day, a six under par 66 on the Silver Course, one ahead of former champion Joe Parkinson’s 67 also on the Silver Course. Jason Hargett’s 68 was the best score on the Gold Course.

The greens stimped at 10.5, and a Sunday rainfall softened them which allowed the players to attack the pins.

A late squall caught the last two or three groups for a hole or two, but the weather was perfect most of the day.

“I was surprised by the quantity of low scores,” said UGA Executive Director Bill Walker. “I thought we set the course a little more difficult than the last time we held it here,” he said.

“I guess our players are just getting better all the time. We have a lot of very good players,” he added.

ABOUT THE Utah State Amateur

Those who qualify, along with the exempt players, will advance to a 36-hole qualifying. The low 64 qualifiers will advance into match play. There will be one round of match play on Wednesday, two rounds of match play on Thursday and Friday, and a 36-hole championship match on Saturday.

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