BYU senior golfer Spencer Dunaway came up one hole short in his semifinal match Friday afternoon against Utah State senior Chase Lansford – or maybe it would be more accurate to say he came up one club short.
The match was tied heading into the 16th hole on the Golf course at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber when Dunaway’s drive drifted into the rough on the east side of the fairway.
He pulled his pitching wedge out of his bag and took a big cut, trying to knock the ball back onto the short grass.
But not only did the ball not escape the natural grasses, Dunaway found himself with another problem.
The swing had resulted in a bent wedge and although it was legal to still use the club under new golf rules, it wasn’t really a functional club.
Lansford ended up winning the hole but the Cougar senior still had a chance on Hole No. 18 to tie things up. His drive was just off the fairway and he lined up the distance – only to discover the reality of the situation.
“I needed my pitching wedge but I didn’t have it because it was bent,” Dunaway said. “I tried to take something off my 9-iron but it went a little deep because I didn’t take enough off of it.”
His shot ended up on the green but his long, 30-foot putt didn’t drop, allowing Lansford to secure the 1-up win with a par.
“It was really windy today right off the bat,” Dunaway said. “The front nine was playing tough but I was two holes up early. But we battled on the back-nine. I missed a few shots and he hit some great shots. We just tried our best.”
In the second semifinal match, future BYU golfer Elijah Turner found himself trailing defending State Amateur champ Preston Summerhays by one hole in their semifinal match coming into the 18th hole.
He also had a chance to tie things up but his approach shot to the green also let him down. It came up short, landing in the bunker and although his sand shot was superb, Summerhays got a par to earn the 1-up victory.
“I just didn’t capitalize today,” Turner said. “I had moments where I could have capitalized and I just didn’t. I didn’t hit the ball all that great. It was a grind out there. I gave it all I had.”
Both of the Cougar golfers said they were very pleased how they did in the tournament, even if the end result wasn’t what they wanted.
“I wanted to play in a tournament to get my swing in tournament conditions and I made it this far,” Dunaway said. “It was exciting. It stings a little. You always want to win but there were a lot of positives to come out of this week.”
Turner added: “We played seven rounds in five days, six of them on the Gold course at Soldier Hollow. Obviously I was getting a little tired and things weren’t as sharp. But it was super-fun and overall I’m really proud of how I’ve done just three weeks off my mission. I think I’ve done a pretty good job.”
Both had solid rounds in the morning quarterfinals as Dunaway defeated Lone Peak assistant golf coach Steven Croft, 4-and-3, while Turner knocked off Utah State golfer Cameron Tucker, 3-and-2. Zane Brownrigg, an intern at Red Ledges golf course in Heber and a Division III All-American playing for Methodist University, also made the quarterfinals but lost to Lansford, 1-up.
The two Cougar golfers each expressed appreciation for the support they got from family and friends as they competed in the tournament.
“It’s really nice when you finish a round, turn on your phone and you have tons of text messages saying ‘go get ‘em!’” Turner said. “It’s uplifting and encouraging. It’s great getting that encouragement from your caddie, from your parents, from everyone.”
Dunaway’s long-time girlfriend, Lauren Harker, was at the course anxiously watching every shot while her dad, Phil Harker, caddied for Dunaway throughout the day. He said the Harker family made a big difference for him.
“I’m super-close with her family because we have been dating so long,” Dunaway said. “It was awesome having them here. My family is so far away, so I wouldn’t have had anyone out here if it wasn’t for them. But they are already like my family. It was way cool to have them here.”
Dunaway and Turner both plan to play a lot of golf over the next few weeks as they get set for the upcoming college golf season.
Summerhays and Lansford will compete in a 36-home match-play championship on Saturday at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber. Play is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m.