Locals, familiar faces draw crowd at Utah Open

Aug 25 2012 - 9:27pm

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(STEVE SMITH/Special to the Standard Examiner)
Zach Johnson tees off during the second round of the Utah Open at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Saturday. Johnson is in sixth place after the second day of action.
(STEVE SMITH/Special to the Standard Examiner)
Zach Johnson tees off during the second round of the Utah Open at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Saturday. Johnson is in sixth place after the second day of action.

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FARMINGTON -- In essence, it became a sixthsome separated by one hole, two decades and perhaps two dozen gallery members, give or take.

Although it wouldn't be fair to say they stole the show during the second round of the Utah Open, it was impossible to completely ignore Mike Weir, Ryan Rhees, Adrian Wadey, Zac Blair, Devon Purser and McCoy Willey as they made their way around Oakridge Country Club on Saturday.

Weir, Rhees and Wadey -- all in their 40s and each a professional -- drew a decent crowd, simply because of Weir, a former Masters champ and eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, had the biggest name recognition.

They went off first Saturday afternoon.

Blair, Purser and Willey -- teammates at BYU and all in their 20s -- were right behind them.

Because Blair (Fremont) and Purser (Syracuse) each enjoyed standout high school careers not far from here, they also had a few on-lookers, some of which seemed to be floating between the two threesomes.

"It was cool, hopefully there'll be more out there (today)," said Blair, who shot a five-under 67 and is the low amateur going into today's final round.

For a while, late in the afternoon, the crowd following Weir, Rhees and Wadey, sort of hung back to see the tee shots made by Blair, Purser and Willey.

"We were waiting all day on them so we got a chance to watch them a little bit. That was fun," added Blair, whose overall score of 10-under has him tied for sixth place. "Obviously, when you get a chance to watch somebody (like Weir) that's pretty cool."

Weir, himself a former Cougar, shot a two-under 69, putting him at five-under for the tournament. He is well off the tournament leader owned by St. George's Dusty Fielding, who sits as 14-under after carding back-to-back 65s.

Lehi professional Gipper Finau shot a second-round 67 and stands alone in second place, 12-under.

Two players, Luke Swilor and Stephen Schneiter, put up nine-under 63s in the second round.

Nine players are within four strokes of the lead going into the the final round.

Blair is the only amateur in the top 10. He was plenty competitive on the course but it was also apparent he, Purser and Willey were a bit more loose than some of the professionals, who are playing for money as well as bragging rights.

"Once you turn pro you kind of don't have any friends," Blair said. "You're all playing for the money. We had fun out there, you always want to be relaxed. It's just golf, you don't want to take it too seriously."

There was plenty of seriously competitive golf being played on Oakridge's fairways and greens all week.

Weir certainly has a vested interest. The 42-year-old Draper resident is healthy for the first time in two years and working intently to get back to golf's highest level.

He decided to play in the Utah Open in an effort to get in a few competitive rounds before heading to Europe for tournaments this week and next.

He is leaving today on a 4:50 p.m. flight.

Weir said he is pleased with is decision to play in the Utah Open, but still isn't happy with where is game is at.

Well off the lead, he'll play early today and shouldn't be in any risk of missing his late-afternoon flight, he joked.

"I should be able to make it," he said. "Playing like I did, I should be able to make it."

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