Patrick Fishburn

Ex-BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn is three shots out of the lead at the Provo Open after Friday's round.

How did former BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn mark his very first professional tournament?

By wearing pants.

As a pro, Fishburn is now required to wear slacks instead of shorts when he plays in tournaments, even in the heat and humidity of the summer. He said he wishes that rule would be changed.

Other than that, Fishburn says, it’s still just golf.

“It’s kind of the same for me,” Fishburn said. “Basically it’s the same mindset I’ve had playing for the past 10 or 11 years. It’s kind of nice to play for cash instead of just pro shop credit all the time. I don’t know if I’ll be getting any more golf shirts from pro shops.”

Fishburn, who just completed his BYU golf career last week at the NCAA Championships, is in good shape in his first pro event. He shot a 5-under-par 67 in the Provo Open at the East Bay Golf Course on Friday. Add that to his 6-under 66 from the first day of competition and Fishburn is in solid contention at -11, three-strokes behind another former Cougar, Justin Keiley, who leads at -14 after shooting a pair of 65s.

Also at -11 are first-round leader Steele Dewald and Mark Owen. Matt Baird is -10 and in fifth place. The top amateur is Kyler Dunkle, who is among four players at -9.

“I’ve hit the ball really well,” Fishburn said. “I only missed one green each day. I’ve putted decent but not great, so hopefully I make some more tomorrow. I feel like I’ve put some good rolls on some putts that just haven’t gone in. But I’ve had a lot of tap-ins for par. I’m happy with my ball striking the past two days.”

Fishburn said he played numerous junior tournaments at East Bay and has participated in the past three Provo Opens, finishing second to Jake Ellison in 2016 as an amateur.

“I think the key for me is to take advantage of the par 5s,” Fishburn said. “You need to play the par 5s at 5-under or you’ll be losing ground to the leaders.”

Fishburn logged 10 top-10 finishes during his senior year at BYU. He was second at the NCAA Norman Regionals and ended up 35th at the NCAA Championships. In his career, Fishburn had 28 top-10 finishes and has been the West Coast Conference Player of the Year twice. His latest World Amateur Golf Ranking was 49th.

“I haven’t heard yet, but I think I’m right on the bubble for being third-team All-American,” Fishburn said. “That was one of my goals when I came to BYU. We’ve had a lot of success as a team and that’s been good for the coaches and the program. With the guys we’ve got coming back, BYU should be making the NCAAs regularly.”

Fishburn competed in a qualifier a couple of months ago for the PGA McKenzie Tour in Canada. He finished 20th, which gave him status. He will play one or two events there and also will compete in the Colorado and Utah opens this summer. He said he’s waiting to hear whether he can get a sponsorship exemption to play in the Utah Championships. In October, he’ll play in the Web.com qualifier.

It’s the humble path nearly every pro golfer has to begin.

“It’s just starting over,” Fishburn said. “It was a step starting high school golf, then another step to college golf and another step to pro golf. I’m really excited to start playing. It’s something I’ve thought about and wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ll compete with these pro guys and see where it can take me.”

The final round of the Provo Open is Saturday.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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