By Sean Walker, KSL.com
BYU’s Shelley earns 2nd Korn Ferry start with T12 while Canadian pro wins Utah Championship
Farmington, UT (August 6, 2023) — After qualifying for the Utah Championship for the first time in his four-year run of Monday qualifier attempts, Tyson Shelley admits he just wanted to make the cut.
The rising junior at BYU did more than that.
Shelley carded 2-under-par 69 in the final round of the Utah Championship, finishing tied for 12th with a four-day total of 17-under 267 on his home course at Oakridge Country Club.
And he’s not done yet; with the top-25 finish, Shelley clinched a spot in next week’s Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha. Though the 20-year-old collegian won’t be eligible for any of the $1 million purse, he already plans to give the tournament a shot.
Besides, playing the final round in front of dozens of bystanders — a gallery that swelled close to 100 strong at times during his three-hour final round — made Shelley feel like a rich man.
“It’s awesome,” Shelley said. “I love that I have all the support in the world; it means so much to have all these family and friends to come out and watch me.”
Shelley, who opened the tournament “just wanting to make the cut,” started the day inside the top 20 at 15-under after shooting 65-65-68. The former 5A state champion at Skyline opened the final round with an eagle on the par-5, 568-yard second and added two birdies on the front nine en route to 3-under 33.
But Shelley ran into trouble on the back nine, including three-straight bogeys in front of one of the largest galleries on the course. He finished with birdies on two of the final four holes, including an approach shot from the left fringe on the par-4, 384-yard 17th hole that settled for an easy birdie putt.
“It got away from me on the back nine, with three-straight birdies that kind of hurt,” Shelley said. “But I was able to battle back … and finish strong.”
Roger Sloan came from behind to edge Korn Ferry Tour debutant Christopher Petefish by one stroke to win for the second time in six seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, punctuating his fifth trip to the Utah Championship with a 24-under 260.
The 36-year-old father of three who turned pro in 2009 birdied three of his final four holes, including drilling his approach shot within three feet on the par-4, 439-yard 18th hole to clinch the $180,000 winner’s purse with a final-round 66
Petefish finished one shot back at 261, while Roberto Diaz and Kevin Dougherty were tied for third at 21-under. Danny Walker rounded out the top five at 20-under 264.
“I haven’t had the greatest of years, results-wise,” said Sloan, who won for the first time since the 2014 Nova Scotia Open in his native Canada. “But it’s because I’ve been having to work on my game more than I’ve had lately; I’ve described this year as a ‘work in progress.’ While this win is great, I’ve really got to just keep chipping away at what I’m doing all year and staying competitive. My goal is to be the best player I can be, and hopefully get back to the PGA Tour soon.”
With the win, Sloan, who lost this PGA Tour card after the 2021-22 season, is now tied for 27th on the Korn Ferry Tour’s projected points list. The top 30 golfers clinch a tour card for the 2023-24 season — a group that currently includes No. 17 Patrick Fishburn, the former BYU golfer from Ogden who missed the cut.
Points weren’t at a premium for Shelley, the collegiate golfer who recently won the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur before qualifying for the Utah Championship in his fourth-straight Monday qualifier attempt.
But the standout golfer who won the previously posted the lowest two-day total in Utah high school championship history back in winning the 2020-21 5A state title was seeking to become just the fourth amateur to win a Korn Ferry Tour event — a list that includes former BYU golfer Daniel Summerhays’ win at the 2007 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
Even seven shots off the lead, Shelley said what he learned about his game in his Korn Ferry Tour debut may be just as valuable.
“I can contend with all the best players in the world; with anyone, I guess,” he said. “I learned a lot about my game the last couple of weeks, and I’m really confident moving forward.
“It’s been an awesome feeling,” he added. “I feel like I’m on cloud nine. I’ve been playing really well; I feel like I haven’t made many mistakes. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Shelley wasn’t the only local golfer who made the cut at Oakridge after seven Utah high school graduates booked a spot in the field.
Former BYU teammate Carson Lundell, who turned pro this summer, surged in the opening round to shoot 64 for his first made cut on the tour, but fired a 70 on moving day Saturday to move back. Under fast greens and clear, warm weather he carded five birdies with three bogeys en route to a 2-under 69 Sunday to finish tied for 40th at 13-under in his second Korn Ferry Tour event.
“It was a super fun weekend,” said Lundell, the Lone Peak product who will play in next week’s Salt Lake City Open followed by the Utah Open in Provo before qualifying school in the fall. “This week, I feel really good about my game; I’m hitting it well, rolling my putter really well, and I got out to a great start. It was a ton of fun, and then I got a little bit shaky on the speed of the greens. That’s what gave me trouble the last couple of rounds.”
Lundell and Shelley were joined in the field by former Utah golfer Mitchell Schow, the Park City product who finished tied for 68th.
Schow was the furthest back at the start of the round, teeing off in the mid-morning before shooting 3-over 74 round with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.
“It was fun, even though today didn’t go the way I wanted to. But that’s golf,” said Schow, who plans to play in a number of local pro events including the Salt Lake City Open and Utah Open in Provo before reporting to Q-school. “I had a lot of family and friends watching, and it was cool to play well for the first couple of days and to play for something.
“When the time is right for me to click, everything will work out.”
The former University of Utah golfer was making just his second start on the Korn Ferry Tour, and made his first cut. Everywhere he turned, he saw a former competitor, co-worker, teammate or friend — many with their children — wishing him luck and giving him a nod.
After a tough up-and-down to bogey No. 18, Schow spent around 20 minutes with a horde of fans and children, signing autographs, handing out balls, and taking photos with the next generation.
He only wishes more local golfers were given that opportunity he had.
“There are other players here today from Utah, and it was cool to see them walking around with a big group. I wish the sports commission could see that sponsors’ spots should be given to locals,” said Schow, another Monday qualifier. “Everyone I played with this week thought I got an exemption, and they only gave it to one person from Utah. Frankly, it’s pretty sad that people from outside the state are wondering why locals who are making the cut like Tyson are being passed up (for a sponsors’ exemption). There are great players, including Tyson and Carson, who qualified for Colorado already.”
One of those sponsors’ exemptions went to Schow’s former Utah teammate Blake Tomlinson via the Tony Finau Foundation. The former Skyline standout was the only sponsors’ exemption from Utah in the field, joining Ohio native Alex Weiss, Washington’s Kyle Stanley and Virginia’s Zach Bachou.
Of the four, Weiss (13-under) and Bachou (16-under) made the cut.
“I had the time of my life out there today,” Schow added. “It was so nice to go around and see kids, sign autographs; I remember being one of them. Hopefully in the years to come, they’ll realize how much that means to the local players. We’re not chumps, and we’re going to come out here and play. This is our life.”
The other local golfers in the field, which contained seven players who graduated from Utah high schools including former BYU and PGA Tour winner Daniel Summerhays, earned a spot via Monday qualifiers.
Lundell, who played the course a year ago via sponsors’ exemption from Finau, was hoping to clinch his own spot in Omaha, as well.
Still, the lone Korn Ferry Tour stop in the Beehive State isn’t the end of any local careers. Far from it.
“I’ll find a few (events) to play, try to stay sharp, and then just continue to work on the craft,” Lundell said.