Since both Kelton Hirsch and Max Brenchley were part of the BYU men’s golf team for the past year, it would be natural to think they had played a lot of competitive golf together.
That wasn’t the case, however.
“I think we played maybe two or three rounds together,” Hirsch said Monday. “Obviously there’s a comfort level because we’ve hung out doing a bunch of stuff together and so it feels comfortable It’s nice to be playing in a big tournament with a comfortable pairing and fun to watch him put up a low number.”
The two ended up in the same threesome for the first two rounds of the 2021 Utah State Amateur Championship, which is being played at Thanksgiving Point golf course and Alpine Country Club.
In many ways, however, Brenchley and Hirsch are at different places.
The most obvious is where they are on the leaderboard after the first day.
Brenchley carded a 66 (6-under-par), which was enough to put him in a tie for first place with former UVU golfer Nick Nelson, one stroke ahead of former Cougar teammate Spencer Dunaway.
“I feel like my game has been going in a good direction recently,” Brenchley said. “I’ve been working really hard on my game and so I just felt like I was applying what I’ve been working. on and I felt like that was a great what happened today. I was able to get the putter rolling today and had a couple putts and a couple of drives where I needed them.”
Hirsch, on the other hand, ended up with a 74 (2-over-par) and is in a 24-way tie for 65th, which means he will be in a battle to get into the match-play field of 64.
“I didn’t play great today,” Hirsch said. “I hit a lot of good shots then got rewarded with some mud balls and tough stuff like that. Everybody has to play the same course and that’s just how it goes. Then I didn’t capitalize on a few opportunities that I had.”
They are also at different points in their lives.
Hirsch just graduated from BYU and is considering turning pro. He also is preparing to begin a family as he and his wife Carly have a new baby due in a couple of months.
“It’s kind of fun,” Hirsch said with a smile.. “It’s fun to not have the same pressure to play well this summer so I’m ready to go in the fall because there’s nothing coming up in the fall. It’s a lot of fun just to come out of here and continue to compete. Maybe I’m not as sharp as I usually am at this time of year but it’s fun.
“Going forward, I’m really not sure what’s up next. I probably am going to turn pro and play in the Utah Open. But eventually I’ll probably just be going to work and enjoying time with the new baby on the way.”
Brenchley, on the other hand, is officially a BYU freshman and has only been back for a year from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Florida.
Brenchley feels like has gained a lot from being around Hirsch, even if they were rarely paired together.
“I feel like Kelton’s always just super-positive out on the golf course,” Brenchley said. “I feel like no matter what’s going wrong, he’ll be like, ‘let’s go make four birdies in a row.’ He has that kind of attitude and outlook on the game. I really appreciate that attitude and his positivity.”
While Brenchley is virtually guaranteed a match-play spot and Hirsch heads into the second round of stroke play needing to battle, both players said their mindset has to be the same on Day 2.
“I think you’ve got to just play,” Hirsch said. “You can’t worry about where the line is or what’s going on. You’ve just got to go out and do your best and shoot as low as you can because seeding does help. When you’re on that cut line, you’ve got to just keep trying to go lower and get back into a good position where you can make a run during match play.”
Brenchley said: “I just have got to hit the shots right and make the putts. It’s really just about getting to match play. You could be a No. 64 seed or a No. 1 seed and it doesn’t matter at that point. It’s just you versus the next guy. I want to go out there and keep the momentum that I have going.”
Brenchley, Hirsch and all the other golfers who played the first round at Thanksgiving Point will play their second round at Alpine Country Club.
Nelson and BYU golfer Brock Goyen (68, 4-under-par, tied for fourth) will go the other direction, playing their second rounds at Thanksgiving Point.
The second round of the 2021 Utah State Amateur Championship is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.
For complete details, including tee times and live scoring, go to http://UGA.org.