Preston Richards looks for vengeance against Jon Wright in State Am Final

Friday , July 11, 2014 - 7:00 PM

OGDEN -- Last year’s champion of the Utah State Amateur Champion, Cole Ogden, will not defend his title after losing 3 and 2 in a match of past champions against the winner of 2012, Jon Wright.

“You’ve got to give him credit. He had plenty of birdies in this round,” Ogden said of Wright. “He only made a mistake on 10 and 11 to let me back in it.”

Despite the loss, Ogden took away good things from the tournament.

“Overall I feel like my game is probably the best it’s been. There’s a lot of positives to take from this even though I lost,” he said.

Wright acknowledged that both he and Ogden played a good round of golf.

“I played really solidly against Cole, I probably only missed one or two shots,” said Wright. Cole played really solidly too. It was a clean match for both of us.”

In the semifinal, Wright defeated BYU’s Tommy Higham, 2-up, and will play in the final for the second time in three years.

“Tommy made a couple of great birdies on 8 and 9 and I was behind the whole day,” said Wright. “I really started to hit well maybe in the last five holes. That’s kind of been the pattern for this week. When we get to about 12, I tend to just calm down and hit good shots and good putts too.”

The pattern not only happens from round to round, but is also the way Wright described his whole week.

“I started the week just hitting it poorly,” said Wright. “I slapped it around to get into match play, but I feel like I’m hitting it better each day. I’m kind of playing my way into good form.”

At 43 years old with his birthday fast approaching next month, Wright understands the importance of seizing this opportunity, while at the same time enjoying the moment.

“I just want to win another one, it’s fun,” said Wright. “I’m getting older and as I get older I realize that the window is getting shorter to where you can still hit it up with these college kids, still walk 36 holes and still keep your nerves, because it gets a little hairy out there.”

Coming in the other side of the bracket after defeating the 17-year-old Kai Ruiz in the semifinal is the 24-year-old Preston Richards of UVU.

“It’s been a long week and I’ve finally put everything together,” said Richards. “I know I hit the ball as good or better than anybody out here the past seven years, it’s just my putting that’s finally clicked this week, and it’s made all the difference.”

Another difference maker for Richards was his caddy and fellow UVU teammate JT Timmons.

“My teammate today, JT, was on the bag, and it doesn’t sound like it but that was a part of it,” said Richards. “He probably switched the club out of my hands three or four times and it proved to be the right decision.”

Richards has qualified for the State Am all seven times he’s tried, and making it to the final is not only a first, but a chance for revenge.

“I’ve qualified for the state am every year I’ve tried,” said Richards. “(I) made it to match play just once last year, got past the first round, and then Jon Wright got me in the second round, so it’ll be a little payback tomorrow. I think I’ll take this one.”

Richards is aware of the challenge that Wright presents, but says he’s ready to compete.

“I understand he just hits it close quite a bit, and he wins a lot of holes,” said Richards. “But now I’m feeling good for tomorrow. I’m used to 36 holes, so I’m ready for it.”

Throughout the day, Richards was followed by a big group of supporters, primarily composed of his family, and wants to win the tournament for them.

“I love them all so much and it’s nice of them to drive here. (It’s) more than an hour for all of them,” said the Sandy native. “My wife’s been here with me too which always the most important thing. So I’m going to win it tomorrow for all of them.”

The match of 18 holes starts early at 7:30 at the Ogden Golf & Country Club, with the winner being crowned in the afternoon.

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