MIDWAY -- Nick Despain rode a sizzling pitching wedge and putter to a pair of thrilling victories on Friday in the 113th Utah State Amateur at Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Despain, a just-graduated senior at Weber State University, edged Wildcat teammate Alex Sutton 1-up in the morning round of 32, then dispatched Garrett Fotu with a flourish in the afternoon match, winning 4 and 3 on the Gold Course at Soldier Hollow.
That put Despain, of Farr West, into this morning's quarterfinal match against Greg Wojtkun. Despain would play again at noon in the semifinals with a victory.
"I faced two really good players today and had two good matches," Despain said after Friday's play. "I'm feeling pretty good."
Several other Top of Utah golfers started the day with high hopes but are done with play after a grueling day of action under perfect conditions.
Tommy Wingert and Davis Garner, a pair of ex-Bonneville High and WSU golfers, met in the early match, with Wingert winning 2 and 1. But Wingert fell to Utah Valley University golfer Stratton Schulz, 4 and 2, in the afternoon action.
Stu Gold, the 2011 tournament runner-up, fell to Dixie State golfer Conner Jones, 2 and 1, in a nip-and-tuck battle, while Casey Halliday, who tied for medalist honors after two rounds of stroke play, fell to Schulz, 3 and 2.
Fotu topped BYU-bound Patrick Fishburn 3 and 2 in the morning match.
Despain's battle with Sutton was wrenching.
"I did not enjoy that one bit. I am so used to rooting for Alex, making fun bets with him all the time," Despain said. "What helped was I have a lot of respect for him."
Playing the front nine last, the pair were all square after 16 holes of action. At the 220-yard No. 8, Despain drilled a 6-iron from within four feet. He made the putt, then parred the final hole for the win.
Against Fotu, Despain's consistent pressure paid off with three birdies in the final five holes to close out the youngster in 15 holes.
"I had good wedges in my hand all day, and made the putts on top of it," Despain said.
As a finishing touch, Despain canned a 50-foot putt on No. 14 to put the match on ice.
Despain, who won the Ogden City Amateur earlier in the season, and earned all-conference honors in leading WSU to the America Sky Golf Conference championship earlier this spring, has father Rob Despain on the bag.
The elder Despain reached the Utah State Amateur semifinals a couple of times in his lengthy amateur career.
"It's great having him there," Nick Despain said. "He brings a lot of perspective, talking about years when he felt he had the game to win it."
Wojtkun is a former college golfer from Massachussetts.
Former champion Tommy Sharp fell to Cameron Edens 2 and 1 in the early round, while four runners-up -- Sutton, Gold, Scott Clark and Kirk Siddens -- were knocked out.
In the other quarterfinals, St. George golfer John Busby will battle Cedar City's Jeff Evans, Jones will meet 17-year-old Travis Norseth, and Schulz will face BYU golfer Cameron Edens.