Thursday , July 13, 2017 - 4:05 PM
OGDEN — Like many tournaments, golfers at the Utah State Amateur Championship often have caddies to help them manage the course in hopes of making a deep run into the week.
A caddy can be anyone from a former college teammate, a close friend, a family member or acquaintance. Regardless of the relation, it’s someone the golfer trusts and relies on throughout the round.
Braxton, who played golf on his high school team, first met Badger through a mutual friend — WSU golfer Lee Shepherd — who was on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee with the 6-foot-9 center from Colorado. A friendship grew, and now Braxton lives with Badger, Shepherd and a third WSU golfer, Alex Herzog.
“We’ve played a lot of golf together over the past six months now since he’s been living with us,” Badger said. “I trust him because I know he knows what he’s doing as far as golf goes. He knows my distances and everything. We play a ton of golf together, at least three or four times a week this summer.”
Braxton keeps up with basketball workouts early in the morning before the time-consuming golf tournament, which included two days of stroke play Monday and Tuesday, then match play through Saturday until there’s one golfer standing.
Braxton feels confident in knowing Badger’s game, and the two keep each other loose during the round.
“We go back and forth on the course a little bit just trying to figure out where putts are going to go or what’s the best shot,” Braxton said. “If you lose a hole, it’s not the end of the world, you go get the next one and you’re good to go. As long as he remembers that, he’s going to have a good day.”
That certainly was the case in Thursday’s round of 32. Badger, the tournament’s 28th seed, was down three holes to Lone Peak graduate and BYU commit Elijah Turner through nine holes, but won six of the last seven holes to claim the victory and advance.
“This is my first match play tournament, so I’ve just got to go out and play like I do everyday when I come out and play and just have fun,” Badger said. “We’re laughing all the time and giving each other a hard time.”
Badger almost did it again in his second round Thursday. After falling behind by five through eight holes in the round of 16, Badger pulled to within two after the 15th hole. But his opponent, 12th seed CJ Lee, held even over the next two holes to take the match.
Braxton said he’d like to take a swing at qualifying for the Utah State Amateur Championship next year, but admits he has a lot to improve.
“I have like a nine handicap right now, so I’ve got to get below that eight and see if I can qualify and find a way in somehow. We’ll see,” Braxton said. “I need to lose less balls off the tee, because when I miss, I miss big.
“When you don’t play golf and you play a different sport, you ... don’t get a lot of reps on the greens and around the greens, so your touch isn’t as good as guys like Sean, Alex and Lee. That’s where I could use some work.”
Both Badger and Braxton will be juniors in the upcoming school year.
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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