Utah State Am: Kelton Hirsch wins 2017 championship over Braydon Swapp

Saturday , July 15, 2017 - 6:09 PM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Centerville resident and Ogden native Kelton Hirsch claimed the 119th Utah State Amateur Championship on Saturday afternoon, defeating Farr West native Braydon Swapp by seven holes with five remaining at Ogden Golf and Country Club.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Hirsch said after claiming the victory. “I’ve played on a lot of big stages. I’ve played in a lot of big golf tournaments, and this was a lot of fun to be able to do it here in my hometown and play against all these guys I grew up playing against. It was a lot of fun. It means a ton.”

The championship match is a 36-hole, match-play marathon, but once the 21-year-old pulled ahead by one after the ninth hole, he never lost the lead. With a lead too big for Swapp to overcome, Hirsch was awarded the trophy on the 14th tee box in the afternoon round.

Hirsch played clean round in the first 18 holes with no bogeys, building a four-hole lead before the break midway through the round.

“I got in that zone,” Hirsch said. “When you’re playing well, you pick your spot and you hit it at your spot. I felt really comfortable on that back nine hitting all the shots. I saw the lines really well and it was just a lot of fun.”

But Swapp didn’t roll over. The Utah State golfer won holes 23 and 24 to cut Hirch’s lead to a more manageable three holes. Hirsch responded by winning three straight holes to take a commanding six-hole lead with 10 remaining and never looked back.

“He made a great charge,” Hirsch said of Swapp. “Braydon’s a great player. He hits a lot of good shots. He made a lot of birdies today and put a lot of pressure on me. It just came down to who made the least mistakes and who could roll in a couple extra putts.”

Swapp found himself in the trees several times, and once in the water on hole No. 4, allowing Hirsch to capitalize and extend his lead.

“Kelton just played a really good game today,” Swapp said. “That first round of golf was about as good as I’ve seen out here. That’s just tough to beat, and I’m proud of the way I played this week and the way that I fought.”

Throughout the tournament, the possibility of winning never occurred to Hirsch until Friday afternoon when he defeated defending champ and BYU teammate Patrick Fishburn in the semifinals.

“That was probably the moment where I was like, ‘Alright, this could be my year,’” Hirsch said. “Before that, I wasn’t thinking ahead.”

Hirsch is coming off his redshirt year at BYU. Now a little more than a year removed from returning from an LDS church mission, he felt he needed to take the year to better dial in his golf game before competing for the Cougars.

Now with a win in the state’s biggest amateur tournament, Hirsch feels confident and ready to begin his college career.

“I’ve been hitting great shots all year, the consistency was the hardest part to come back,” Hirsch said. “I’d been playing great and just not seeing the scores. Then the last couple of months I’ve really made a turn ...

“Every good round you play helps with your confidence. To be able to play a good round on a big stage when you need to definitely builds confidence.”

Hirsch becomes the third straight BYU golfer to win the Utah State Amateur Championship, with Jordan Rodgers winning in 2015 and Fishburn a year ago.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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