Cole Ogden claims 115th Utah State Am title

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:45 PM

Jim Burton

MIDWAY — Drive for show.

Putt for dough.

That overplayed golf axiom was apropos Saturday afternoon as West Point native Cole Ogden first hoisted, then smooched the Utah State Amateur championship trophy.

Although Ogden didn’t win any dough for his efforts, the BYU junior-to-be used a steady putting stroke and a oodles of confidence to capture the 115th annual Utah State Am title at Solider Hollow.

Ogden’s rhythm, timing and distance off the tee was as good as anyone’s during the week. But in the end it was his putting stroke that earned him the 2013 title.

“Putting throughout the whole week as been the best part of my game,” Ogden said standing on the 14th hole of Soldier Hollow’s Gold Course, moments after beating 2011 champ Jeff Evans 6 and 4.

“It’s hard to beat someone when they’re making everything,” Evans said.

Before this week Ogden had never advanced beyond the first round of match play. In three previous tries he’d made it through the stroke play portion of the event but had never gone farther. This time he not only won medalist honors with a 6-under 138 after the first two rounds, he went 6-0 during the grueling match play portion, which included two matches on Friday and two more Saturday.

Evans, 23, won the State Am title the last time it was played at Soldier Hollow and had won 10 consecutive matches on its long, challenging terrain.

But Ogden, who was 3-down at one point during their morning match, came charging back to square it after 18 holes.

His comeback was highlighted by a couple of astonishingly long, snaking putts.

Ogden admitted he felt some nerves during the week but managed to keep them in check. On the greens it seemed he never stood over a putt he didn’t believe he could make.

He didn’t make them all but he certainly made enough.

“I wouldn’t say I wasn’t nervous, I think any time you trying to win a big championship you’re going to be nervous,” he said. “And if you’re not nervous I think there’s probably something wrong. I just tried to stay calm and stay with my pre-shot routine and just trust what I’ve always been working on.”

Ogden’s routine seemed slightly off on Friday, especially on the greens.

He said he and roommate J.T. Timmons — who served as his caddie for the final three days — decided they were over-analyzing many of his putts.

Ogden said when he played earlier in the week he got in a routine of reading a putt, committing to his decision and executing it. It was quick and very effective.

On Friday he and Timmons seemed to spend more time thinking re-thinking the break of each putt. A bit too much time apparently.

In a phone conversation later that night, player and caddie decided they needed to go more with Ogden’s initial gut instinct.

“Me and J.T. were kind of talking last night on the phone a little bit,” he said. “In my first matches and in stroke play he wasn’t caddying for me and I was kind of reading (putts) quick and kind of going with my first instinct and I was putting great.

“Yesterday my dad noticed we were kind of taking a little bit more time trying to over think it a little bit. And I putted terrible yesterday. I made a couple of putts but my speed wasn’t very good. I wasn’t putting like I had been. Today I told (Timmons), ‘Let’s just try to putt a little bit quicker. First instinct, just go with it. I putted awesome today. I made a lot of crucial putts.”

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