BYU sophomore Kerstin Fotu had a big smile and a hug for her opponent, Grace Summerhays, after the two completed their semifinal match Thursday in the 2020 Utah State Women’s Amateur golf tournament at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber.

Fotu had rallied from a significant deficit to give herself a chance at the end, but Summerhays proved up to the challenge and secured the 1-up victory with a clutch birdie putt on Hole No. 18.

“It was a big roller coaster ride out there,” Fotu said. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to on the front and kind of gave some holes back. I wanted to fight back as best I could.”

Fotu trailed Summerhays by as many as four holes with just six holes to play but put the pressure on with some clutch putts of her own down the stretch.

On hole No. 17, Fotu faced a tough 36-foot putt knowing that missing would likely give Summerhays the victory.

“I knew I had to give it a chance,” Fotu said. “I knew if I missed it and she made it or we tied the hole, then it was over. I feel like I read my line well and hit it perfect. Seeing it go in was really good.”

The Cougar golfer notched four birdies in the final six holes, only to see Summerhays make a couple of big birdies herself to stave off the comeback.

“She is playing great and I knew I would have to get some birdies to even have a chance,” Fotu said. “But she made some birdies too.”

Summerhays went on to win the 2020 title by defeating four-time champ Kelsey Chugg, 3&1, in the finals on Thursday afternoon.

Even though she wasn’t able to achieve her goal of defending her 2019 Utah State Women’s Amateur title, Fotu said she was pleased with her performance.

“I’m really proud of how I did,” Fotu said. “I had a lot of shoulder pain on Monday. I felt like I wasn’t sticking to my game plan and felt like I was overcompensating for that pain. Coming back to make the cut and then make it to the final four, that was all I could ask for. I feel like I’m doing well.”

Fotu’s golfing career has taken her along a winding path, although she likes the direction she is heading now.

Having played at Lone Peak, she originally signed with Brigham Young University but then decommitted as she thought about focusing on going pro.

“At the last minute in my senior year, I decided to go to BYU,” Fotu said. “I was committed, decommitted and then committed again. But since I wasn’t planning on going to school, I ended up going to UVU for a year just for school. I got enough credits to transfer to BYU and then played there last year.”

She explained that those decision-making times weren’t easy.

“I felt like I wanted more experience,” Fotu said. “I felt like I could get that in college and have it paid for through a scholarship. That was why I made that decision.”

Now, however, she is seeing tremendous value in her first year of golf at BYU.

“It’s been awesome,” Fotu said. “Even just this first year, I’ve learned a ton from my coach (Carrie Roberts). She’s been gracious enough to work with me as much as I can. She spends a lot of time helping me and I really appreciate that. I’ve seen a lot of improvement, even in just this last year.”

Fotu now plans to play in a tournament next week in Tennessee where the top two finishers earn spots in the U.S. Amateur as part of a busy summer of golf.

“I want to use this time to get ready as best I can,” Fotu said. “Hopefully when I get done at BYU, I can go pro and play professionally. I feel good right now with the game plan I have for each tournament and each course. It’s about finding a way to play consistently well. The biggest key is sticking to that and getting better each month and each year. I’m going to do what I can and work hard.”

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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