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BYU junior Tyson Shelley defeats younger brother in first round of match play at state amateur

By Jared Lloyd - | Jul 10, 2024
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BYU junior Tyson Shelley (right) gets congratulated by his brother, Austin Shelley, at the conclusion of the first round of match play at the Utah State Amateur Championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
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BYU junior Tyson Shelley watches his shot during the first round of match play at the Utah State Amateur Championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
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BYU junior Tyson Shelley watches his shot during the first round of match play at the Utah State Amateur Championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
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Austin Shelley of Holladay watches his shot during the first round of match play at the Utah State Amateur Championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Top-seeded Tyson Shelley woke up Wednesday morning not knowing who he would face that day in the first round of match play at the 2024 Utah State Amateur Championship at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden.

The BYU junior knew he would take on the No. 64 seed but 16 golfers were competing for the final three spots in the playoff that morning.

“They teed off around 7:30 a.m.,” Shelley said. “I was watching on the UGA live stream but I didn’t start until the beginning of the second playoff hole.”

He had an added interest since his younger brother, Austin Shelley, was one of those hoping to make the cut.

“I knew two people made it on the first hole, then I saw him tee off, so I knew he was still in it,” Tyson Shelley said. “I was thinking in my head that if he wins, he plays me.”

It was a premonition that turned out to be the reality as Austin Shelley secured the final match-play spot and a chance to see how he could fare against his older brother.

“I was pumped to play him this morning,” Tyson Shelley said. “I was pumped that he got into the playoff but I knew the dynamic might be a little weird as brothers playing head-to-head against each other. We’ve obviously never done that in an event, although we had played against each other in casual rounds. That was a little unique. I knew it was going to be a fun day.”

The Cougar golfer said that as he prepared for the actual match, he tried to focus on treating it like any other.

“He is my brother but I was going to play exactly how I would play anyone else,” Tyson Shelley said. “Obviously I want my brother to play well and I want the best for him. There were moments where he made a putt and I was happy for him, but it was still a competition setting. I was trying to focus on my game.”

The older brother seized control early, going up by four holes on the front nine. But Austin Shelley wasn’t going to concede and came roaring back, tying the match by winning Hole No. 16.

“I knew we were tied up and it was a whole new match,” Tyson Shelley said. “I had to forget everything that happened and play the last two holes. Austin then bogeyed No. 17 while I got a par, then we both parred No. 18 so I ended up winning.”

Tyson Shelley admitted that his 1-up victory was still somewhat bittersweet.

“It’s hard, obviously, to eliminate your brother,” Tyson Shelley said. “But Austin already told me that playing me made him a better player. And there were moments where I was feeling pressure, so I think he made me a better player. We are both happy with the way we played, but it was hard to have that happen early so it kind of does suck eliminating him.”

But the additional elements of that first-round match are now in the rearview mirror for Tyson Shelley and he hopes they set him up for further success.

“There is a 100% a sense of relief,” he said. “I feel really confident in my game and the way I’ve been playing lately. I feel like I’m going to go out and have the same game plan, but today was a little different. Since I did get past that, I believe I’ll be a little more focused and og from there throughout the rest of the week.”

It was a good day for another set of brothers as Zac and Cooper Jones both advanced.

Cooper Jones — a freshman at BYU — dominated his match against Blake Murray of Vernal, not losing a single hole on his 8 and 6 win.

It wasn’t quite as easy for Cougar senior Zac Jones, who ended up locked in a tough match with Orem’s Maddux Nielsen.

Although Nielsen trailed by two or three holes for much of the competition, he won Holes No. 16 and 17 to put the pressure on Zac Jones heading into the final hole. The BYU star and 2022 state amateur champion got the job done, however, halving the hole to secure the 1-up win.

Provo’s Darren Overson defeated BYU commit Lincoln Markham, 2 up, in a back-and-forth match that saw the two golfers only tie on two of the 18 holes.

After Overson started by winning three straight holes, Markham came roaring back to win six of the next seven and go up by two. But Overson, a former state amateur champion, answered by winning five more holes down the stretch to get the win.

Two other former Cougar golfers also advanced, with Elijah Turner overcoming an early 3-hole deficit to beat Austin Geddings of Salt Lake and Cole Ogden defeating Preston Cheney of Sandy, 4 and 3.

No. 2-seed Cole Ponich, another BYU senior, faced Caleb Norton of Highland in a match that needed extra holes to decide a winner.

It turned into a marathon, with neither golfer surrendering an inch on the first three playoff holes. But on the fourth, Ponich was finally able to get the win he needed to eliminate Norton and move on to the next round.

Norton took the lead by winning Holes No. 15 and 16, but Ponich bounced back to win No. 17 and force the sudden-death playoff.

Former Spanish Fork golfer Jackson Rhees led for virtually his entire match, securing the 3-and-2 win over Nicholas Taggart of Saint George.

The biggest upset of the day came when Aidan Thain of Holladay eliminated the defending state amateur champion, BYU’s Simon Kwon.

Kwon rallied from trailing by two holes with wins on No. 12 and 13, only two Thain pull back in front by two. The Cougar junior got a hole back, but couldn’t erase the deficit and Thain won, 1 up.

Six other Utah Valley golfers reached match play but ended up losing on Wednesday: Cole Enlow and Noah Moody of Vineyard, Austin Rustand of Provo, Dylan McDaniel of Highland, Jake Griffin of Pleasant Grove and Ryker Dunkley of American Fork.

The second and third rounds of match play will take place on Thursday as the field will get trimmed from 32 golfers down to the final eight. The action will start at 8 a.m. at the Ogden Golf and Country Club in Ogden.

For matchups and complete details, go to http://UGA.org.

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