SALT LAKE CITY -- Devon Purser, skin scarlet from the sun, took confident strides down the 18th fairway. He carefully approached his ball nestled in the middle of the short grass and stepped away, scanning from where he stood to the flag curtseying in the breeze.
Purser was down one to friend Stratton Schulz on Friday afternoon with one to play in the Utah State Amateur's round of 16 at The Country Club, and five words consumed his thoughts: knock this on the green.
But when the ball left his club, it pushed right. Purser's body bent left at the waist, willing the ball to hook back, just a little bit, just this once. But it wasn't to be. The ball landed in the bunker to the right of the green, kicking up a quick cloud of sand.
When Schulz's next shot found the green, it seemed all but over. After Purser failed to get onto the green on his first shot from the bunker and Schulz two putted for par, it was official.
Purser, the former Syracuse High star who won medalist honors during the stroke play portion of the tournament by shooting a 6-under-par 138, had been eliminated.
"It's always hard to put that many rounds together," said Purser, who is heading into his sophomore year on BYU's golf team. "This morning I didn't play as well as I wanted to, and that last round where I lost, I definitely didn't play like I should have."
Earlier in the day, Purser had beaten Andrew Barton 2-and-1 in the round of 32, but against Schulz, Purser's putting proved to be his downfall. Throughout the round, he missed multiple short putts to either win or halve holes.
"The whole match was about the putter," Purser said. "I missed some short putts, and that's how it got flipped at the end. ... You can't three-putt and win out here."
Purser was in control for much of the match before faltering at the end. He was 2-up through 10 and didn't trail until Schulz won the 17th, where Purser missed a medium-length putt that would have halved the hole and kept the match tied heading to the 18th.
Even after missing the putt, Purser felt confident, despite knowing he had to win the 18th to force a playoff.
"You've just got to try to forget about it," Purser said of his missed putt on the 17th. "It's easier said than done, but that's the key. It's one hole, not the whole round."
Purser said after the match that nerves weren't a factor. The same couldn't be said, though, of his father, Bart, who accompanied him throughout the match.
"I was definitely nervous. I mean, I wanted to puke," Bart Purser said. "It's a battle hole by hole, so it stressed me out. It doesn't stress (Devon) out, though."
Purser will next compete in the U.S. Amateur Qualifying tournament before playing in the Utah Open.
Among golfers with local ties, former Fremont High golfer Zac Blair was the only competitor to reach today's quarterfinal. Blair, who won the State Amateur in 2009 and now plays for BYU, beat Gentry Hicks 4-and-3 in the round of 32 before besting Thomas Young by two holes in the round of 16.
Former Syracuse High golfer Cole Ogden, ex-Fremont star Patrick Fishburn, Weber State's Matthew Whalen and Casey Halliday all fell in the round of 32. Halliday's loss came in 22 holes, after a four-hole playoff with Nic Booth.
Wahlen, a former Weber High standout, fell to Mike Jurca 2-and-1. Jurca then topped Utah State golfer Tanner Higham 3-and-2.
Ogden was sent packing by Christian Jensen 5-and-4 in the morning.
Fishburn fell to Higham in 19 holes.
Blair will tee off against Schulz at 8 a.m. today. The winner will advance to the semifinals, which will be played following the morning matches.