If you are the golfer in the lead in match play, you always want to shut the door as soon as possible.
If you leave it open even a crack, you never know what might happen.
On the other side, if you are trailing, the mentality is always that it isn’t over until it’s over.
All four of the golfers with Utah Valley ties who won both of their matches at some point had to come from behind in the 2021 Utah State Amateur Championship at Alpine Country Club in Highland on Thursday.
The most stunning was the rally BYU golfer Brock Goyen pulled off in the round of 32 against Cameron Tucker.
Tucker had cruised through the first 13 holes, winning five of them and refusing to give any back to Goyen.
“When I was five holes down with five left to play, I definitely didn’t expect to come out on top,” Goyen said.
But the match was about to change dramatically.
With nothing to lose, Goyen got more aggressive as he tallied a birdie on No. 14 and then blasted a great drive that helped him win with a par on No. 15.
“I had a little momentum and I knew if I kept hitting good iron shots and kept putting well, I could come back,” Goyen said. “I think he got a little rattled, although it’s hard to say. He definitely didn’t hit as good a shots as he had all day coming down the stretch.”
Goyen proceeded to win the next three holes, forcing a playoff the hole that looked all but impossible only an hour before. He then got one final birdie to cap off the improbable rally.
“I don’t know how I did it but I did,” Goyen said. “You have nothing to lose so you might as well go for it. No. 15 isn’t really a driver hole but I told myself I was going to hit driver on it and play it as it is. That gave me momentum and I was able to finish it out.”
Goyen said he felt like some of that momentum from his big comeback helped him in his round of 16 match against Cougar teammate Max Brenchley.
“Max is a great competitor and I love him to death,” Goyen said. “I was able to hit good shots today and didn’t find myself in too much trouble. I was able to put some pressure on him and able to come away with the win.”
Goyen advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-and-3 win over Brenchley.
Two recent BYU grads also joined their former teammate in the quarterfinals, each having to put together a rally of their own.
After winning 3-and-2 in the morning, Spencer Dunaway found himself down by two holes to Ryan Brimley heading into the turn.
“Ryan is a great player and he was playing awesome on the front,” Dunaway said. “I think I shot even par and I was two down. To start the back-nine, I had to light a fire. I don’t think I missed a shot on the back.”
He won holes No. 10 and 11, then won four of the next five holes to pull away for the 4-and-2 victory.
“I was a little nervous but when I got it back to all square, the nerves kind of went away,” Dunaway said. “To see the ball starting on line time after time, I was like, this is pretty awesome. It just gave me more confidence and I was able to take more aggressive swings.”
Hirsch went down early by two holes in his morning round and one hole in his afternoon round, but each time he got things together and took care of business, advancing with a 3-and-1 win over Justin Shluker and a 3-and-2 win over Leo Torres.
The other golfer with local ties to reach the quarterfinals was Lehi’s Carl Jensen — who also needed to make a big comeback.
Jensen trailed former UVU golfer Jake Godfrey by two holes with three to play, but made some great shots down the stretch.
“It was shocking,” Jensen said. “He (Godfrey) didn’t make any mistakes. The only bogey he made was on the last hole, I think. It was just a lot of fun. To birdie No. 16 and No. 17, it was a lot of fun.”
Jensen, like Goyen, said his mentality was to go for it because there wasn’t much to lose.
“I was going pin hunting,” Jensen said. “With the spot I was in, I had to make birdies and I finally pulled off a golf shot.”
His birdie on the par-3 16th hole kept him alive, then he was able to scramble his way to another birdie on No. 17 (a par-5).
His drive landed in a fairway bunker, his second shot landed in a green-side bunker and his third shot was still 20 or 25 feet from the hole. The putt, however, was perfect and Jensen showed his elation with a fist pump.
“We were begging for it to keep going,” Jensen said.
He then was able to defeat Godfrey with a par on No. 18, securing his spot in the quarterfinals.
“My dad has been a member at Alpine Country Club since I was 9-years-old,” Jensen said. “We’ve played a lot of golf on this golf course. It was special.”
In addition to Goyen, Dunaway, Hirsch, Jensen, Brenchley and Godfrey, three other golfers with local ties reached the round of 16 but weren’t able to make the plays they needed down the stretch.
Both former Salem Hills golfer Brock Nielson and BYU golfer David Timmins lost on the 19th hole after battling their opponents the entire match, while Cougar golfer and former Pleasant Grove star Keanu Akina had his match-tying birdie putt on No. 18 lip out.
Dunaway and Goyen will now face each other in the quarterfinals, while Jensen will play Utah golfer Blake Tomlinson and Hirsch will battle former Weber State golfer Luke Crapo. The other quarterfinal will pit former state amateur champ Dan Horner against Ute golfer Martin Leon.
The quarterfinal matches of the 2021 Utah State Amateur Championship will take place Friday morning, with the winners moving on to the semifinals on Friday afternoon.
All of the action will be at Alpine Country Club in Highland. For complete details and match brackets, go to http://UGA.org.