The day after his 54th birthday, Ron Davis of Pleasant Grove found himself in one of the most pressure-packed positions at the 2018 Utah State Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club and Davis Park Golf Course on Tuesday.
He had a good round at Davis Park but missed a few costly putts, ending up at 3-over-par for his 36-hole score.
With the way things ended up on the final day of stroke-play, that put him in a 12-way tie for seven available spots in the match-play portion.
Since he was right on the cut line, Davis had to wait all day and then get back on the course for the sudden-death playoff.
But he isn’t one to let moments like that intimidate him.
As he stepped up on the first tee box, he admitted he was feeling a few butterflies — but his comment to the assembled crowd was, “This is for all the old fat guys out there.”
“My hands were sweating and I had to get the towel to wipe them off,” Davis said. “You get that feeling if you are out there and like to play golf. Then to hit shots when you need to or make a putt — I just try to not put any extra pressure on myself.”
He didn’t make things any easier on himself as his drive drifted left into the trees lining the fairway on the No. 1 hole at Oakridge Country Club.
“I didn’t hit a very good ball, but I had an opening through the trees,” Davis said. “Before the playoff, I told a friend I was going to play conservative and try to make my 5. I was going to let the young guns go for the green in two and maybe one of them would plug it in the water. When I hit it over there, I knew I could chip out and have 150 yards in. It didn’t bother me. I just wanted to be able to find my ball.”
He calmly got out of trouble, then hit his third shot under the green only to have it spin back off again.
The Pleasant Grove native two-putted for par, putting himself in position to continue on to the second playoff hole.
This was a par 3 and Davis thought he had hit a pretty good tee shot.
“I thought it would draw, but it didn’t,” Davis said. “It caught the slope and rolled down.”
He explained that he felt fortunate to have others be in similar positions near the green, giving him some insight on how to attack the uphill slope and to read the line on his putt.
“I saw Jon Wright’s chip fly by the hole, so I didn’t think I could chip it close,” Davis said. “I just tried to putt it somewhere. I’m glad I saw one of the kids before me. His putt went right and then at the very end, it broke left. I thought that mine was going to do the same thing. But if I had hit it any harder, I would’ve missed it. It just barely dropped.”
His par turned out to be good enough to earn him one of the last three spots in the 64-man match play bracket that will begin at Oakridge Country Club on Wednesday morning.
“I love match play,” Davis said. “You can have a triple bogey on a hole and the other guy can birdie and it’s only one hole. It’s a different mindset.”
He knows he will face one of the golfers who had the best scores in stroke play, but he’s also confident in his own ability to handle the situation.
“A week ago I was down at the Bloomington Senior Amateur,” Davis said. “Rick Lloyd and I ended up coming to the last hole tied. We ended up going to a playoff and I ended up winning on the second hole. I shot 66 on the last day. I’ve won plenty of tournaments, so I really wasn’t nervous here other than the fact that I’m one of the old fat guys against all the flat-bellied college kids.”
Davis will face Southern Utah golfer Fidel Concepcion in the first match play round, which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
“I can get it going,” Davis said. “I just need to make putts. Hopefully I get off to a hot start.”