Unknown newcomer Tanner Taft full of surprises, reaches State Am quarterfinals

first_imgLuckily that shot turned out good — that’s all I cared about. – Tanner TaftOGDEN — Not even a bonk on the head by an errant golf ball could deter Tanner Taft from advancing to the Men’s State Amateur quarterfinals Thursday at Ogden Golf & Country Club.Taft was playing the first hole of sudden death in his Round-of-16 match against Jacob Marx and had just hit his 8-iron shot when a tee shot from a parallel hole, landed and bounced up, ricocheted off his club and hit him right behind his left temple.Although he stepped back and rubbed his head for a few seconds, Taft was more concerned about his shot, which ended up 15 feet from the hole, than his head.“Luckily that shot turned out good — that’s all I cared about,” he said afterward.When Marx couldn’t get up and down from the front of the green for par, Taft just needed to two-putt to secure the victory and move into Friday’s quarterfinals, where he’ll play Braydon Swapp, the medalist winner from earlier in the week.Of the eight golfers remaining in the State Am who have survived three grueling rounds in near 100-degree temperatures, Taft is the only one who isn’t a current or former collegiate golfer.The 29-year-old from West Bountiful had never even qualified for the State Amateur before this year. Playing in his first State Am, he was just hoping to make it into the 64-man match play and now he finds himself in the Elite Eight after winning three matches in two days.“I feel like I’m playing with house money,” he said. “I’m staying loose, I’ve got to nothing to lose.”He’ll have a tough match against Swapp, the 20-year-old Utah State golfer who beat Robert Mitchell 2 and 1 in the morning and came back to edge Kenny You by the same score in the afternoon. On Wednesday he came back from three down with six holes left to defeat Nathan Wunderli.“I was confident before the week started, but the Elite Eight is a pretty big number and there’s a lot of good players,” said Swapp. who calls himself a “late bloomer” after not making his high school team his first year.Two of the pre-tournament favorites, who are teammates at BYU, are still alive after fairly comfortable victories Thursday.Reigning State Amateur champion Patrick Fishburn, who is playing at his home golf course, only had to play 26 holes Thursday as he beat Dane Nelson 5 and 4 in the morning and came back to defeat Stephen Lindsey 8 and 6 in the afternoon.Meanwhile, CJ Lee, who will be a senior at BYU, defeated former Cougar golfer Preston Alder 6 and 5 in the morning and held on to defeat Weber State golfer Sean Badger 2 and 1 in the afternoon.In that match, Lee made the first hole-in-one of his life at the 126-yard No. 2 hole. He got to 5 up after eight holes then had a couple of “sloppy” shots down the stretch before putting the match away.Lee says he has “great confidence” and hopes to be able to meet his good friend and teammate Fishburn in Saturday’s finals if both can win a pair of matches Friday.“That’s the goal — Fishburn in the finals,” the 22-year-old Lee said.Lee’s next opponent is Kyler Dearden, who had to survive a pair of overtime matches Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year. The left-handed Weber State golfer had to go 19 holes to edge Andy Hess in the morning and was extended to 22 holes by Boise State golfer Jacob Byers in the afternoon. In the latter match, Dearden had to birdie the final two holes to force sudden-death and then won with a 15-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole.Fishburn will face Nicklaus Britt, a 20-year-old native of Fillmore who plays for Dixie State. Britt edged JT Timmons 1 up in the morning and Andrew Cottle 2 and 1 in the afternoon.The final Friday quarterfinal will pit Kelton Hirsch against Ryan Sarlo.The 21-year-old Hirsch just finished a redshirt season at BYU after an LDS mission to Mexico, while Sarlo is a 25-year-old whose father, Craig, has been the head professional at Ogden G&CC for many years.Hirsch beat Luke Morgan 4 and 3 and Glen Spencer 2 and 1, while Sarlo defeated Ariel Elftman-Hanson and Tyler Herzog by the same 4 and 3 margins.If Sarlo and Fishburn win their Friday morning matches, a large crowd would be expected for a Friday afternoon semifinal match between two friends who have played hundreds of rounds together at Ogden G&CC.After Friday’s matches, just two golfers will be left for Saturday’s 36-hole final, which will begin at 7:30 a.m.State AmateurSecond-round matchesBraydon Swapp def. Robert Mitchell 2 and 1Kenny You def. Connor Howe 25 holesTanner Taft def. Chase Lansford 1 upJacob Marx def. Denny Job 2 and 1Jacob Byers def. Colton Dallimore 2 upKyler Dearden def. Andy Hess 19 holesSean Badger def. Elijah Turner 3 and 2CJ Lee def. Preston Alder 6 and 5Patrick Fishburn def. Dane Nelson 5 and 4Stephen Lindsey def. Alex Herzog 4 and 3Andrew Cottle def. Thomas Cook 4 and 3Nicklaus Britt def. JT Timmons 1 upKelton Hirsch def. Luke Morgan 4 and 3Glen Spencer def. Aaron Smith 3 and 1Ryan Sarlo def. Ariel Elftman-Hanson 4 and 3Tyler Herzog def. Carl Jensen 6 and 5Third-round matchesSwapp def. You 2 and 1Taft def. Marx 19 holesDearden def. Byers 22 holesLee def. Badger 2 and 1Fishburn def. Lindsey 8 and 6Britt def. Cottle 2 and 1Hirsch def. Spencer 2 and 1Sarlo def. Herzog 4 and 3Friday quarterfinal matches7:30 a.m. – Braydon Swapp vs. Tanner Taft7:40 a.m. – Kyler Dearden vs. CJ Lee7:50 a.m. – Patrick Fishburn vs. Nicklaus Britt8:00 a.m. – Kelton Hirsch vs. Ryan Sarlolast_img read more