Fremont, BYU alum Zac Blair in contention at Utah Championship as shoulder rehab continues
FARMINGTON — Professional golfer Zac Blair is in rehab, athletically speaking.
The Salt Lake City native, Fremont High and BYU alumnus had surgery to repair two tears in his right labrum in 2020.
Ever since, he set a target to get back to the PGA Tour and he’s hoping to return to the PGA in September. This week, his rehab journey is in Farmington for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club.
His rehab journey, if Thursday is any indication, could end up yielding a winner’s trophy this weekend. Blair fired a bogey-free, 7-under 64, putting him one shot behind the first-round leader.
Blair, who had tan lines on his face due to a recently shaved beard, had a lot of success from the tee. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 greens in regulation.
If there was anything to nit-pick, Blair’s putting left much to be desired. He had 28 putts Thursday as Oakridge’s greens are firming up following a half-inch of rain Monday night.
“I kind of just did everything you’re supposed to do out here, kind of got all three of the Par 5s, made a couple birdies with wedges, made a couple of good putts and felt like I had one kind of nice save on — I don’t even know what hole it is, the second Par 3 on the back nine,” Blair said after the round.
For the Utah Championship, the Korn Ferry Tour reverses the front and back nines, so players teeing off on the tournament No. 1 hole are starting on Oakridge’s everyday No. 10 hole, and vice-versa.
Blair’s round started on the tournament No. 10 hole, which is the everyday No. 1 hole.
“I’m so mixed up with what they are,” he said.
Blair’s shoulder rehab journey almost didn’t continue Thursday.
“I went in for an MRI on Tuesday, a couple days ago, thinking that I might have something wrong with it and it turned out to be OK, which was obviously good,” Blair said.
“It’s been good, the MRI, it was just kind of like hurting. I just went in and thought maybe I tore it again or something like that, so it was kind of stressful Tuesday and Wednesday, but it turned out to be OK and I played good today, which was nice.”
On the fifth hole, Blair made one of the makable birdie putts he’d been presented with and moved to 5-under.
He birdied all three Par 5s, ending with a birdie on No. 7 to move to 6-under. A birdie on the ninth hole moved him to 7-under, one shot off the shared lead held by American Andrew Kozan, Canadian Ben Silverman and German Jeremy Paul at 8-under.
Of Blair’s 13 rounds of rehab on the Korn Ferry Tour, nine of them have been in the 60s.
“Definitely playing good,” he said. “I played a little before coming back, but not really any tournament golf obviously, just doing the right things and trying to play good golf and it’s been working out so far.”
Blair’s round of 64 wasn’t the only bit of fireworks in his group. On the fifth hole (normally the 14th), Sangmoon Bae, who was playing with Blair, hit his teeshot out of bounds into somebody’s backyard.
His follow-up tee shot sliced into the rough down the right side of the fairway. Bae walked the length of the fairway holding his driver and eventually smashed his driver against the ground, which knocked the head off the club.
In the group behind Blair, fellow Fremont and BYU alum Patrick Fishburn also put together a good round of 6-under 66 with three eagles, one birdie and a bogey on the last hole when he missed a makable par putt.
Fishburn sits tied for ninth place and, with a similar round Friday, should easily make the cut and possibly contend for a good finish this weekend.
Fishburn’s situation is different than Blair’s. The Utah Championship is the penultimate regular-season Korn Ferry Tour event and Fishburn came in sitting 71st in the KFT standings.
The top 75 players at the end of the season qualify for the KFT Finals, a series of three tournaments that award PGA Tour cards to the top 25 players across those three tournaments.
Next week’s regular-season finale is in Omaha, Nebraska. The KFT Finals tournaments are played in Boise, Idaho, then Columbus, Ohio and finally Newburgh, Indiana.
Daniel Summerhays shot 1-under-par and sits tied for 84th, which means he’ll likely have to shoot well into the 60s in the second round to make the cut.
T1. Jeremy Paul, Andrew Kozan, Ben Silverman (-8)
T4. Zac Blair (-7)
T8. Patrick Fishburn (-6)
T84. Daniel Summerhays (-1)
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at email@example.com, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.