The Jones family from Highland has been waiting for July 10 for a long time, since that is when their son, Tyler Jones, returns home from serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines.
But this family of golfers has had something come up.
This is also the week of the 2019 Utah State Amateur golf tournament at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber and Clark Jones, the father of the family, and his sons Zach Jones and Cooper Jones were all battling Tuesday to make it through the first two rounds of stroke play.
Clark Jones (tied for 51st) and Zach Jones (tied for fifth) both knew they had made it at the conclusion of the second round — but it wasn’t quite so easy for 15-year-old Cooper Jones.
Cooper Jones finished at 5-over-par, putting him in a 12-golfer playoff with nine spots available to reach the match-play field of 64.
His family was confident that the talented young golfer would be able to stay steady and it appeared on the first hole of the playoff that they were correct.
Cooper Jones hit his second shot just off the green on Hole No. 1 on the Silver course, but chipped up nicely to get a makeable par putt.
But the green had one final trick as the slope pulled Cooper Jones’s ball to the edge of the hole, where it did nearly a complete 360 before popping out.
“When I missed it, I thought I was out of it,” Cooper Jones said. “Then I heard that we were playing five for two spots, so I knew I just had to go make a birdie on the next hole.”
Four other golfers also ended up with bogeys, meaning Cooper Jones moved on to a second playoff hole with two spot up for grabs.
“You have to forget about it and move on,” Cooper Jones said. “I’d been hitting good shots all week. You go do the best you can.”
He said it was a little more intimidating because there were a number of spectators, but he just knew what he had to do.
“It makes it a little nervous but you have to play your game,” Cooper Jones said. “You can’t think about all the pressure. It’s just shot-by-shot.”
On the par-5 Hole No. 2 on the Silver course, he drove the ball to the middle of the fairway, hit a 3-wood well enough to send up a gorgeous chip shot that appeared to have a chance to go in for eagle.
“It looked good but about 10 feet out, I knew it was a little right,” Cooper Jones said. “But it was a good chip.”
Instead he calmly stepped up and drained his birdie putt, just as Kurt Owen did to end the playoff. Cooper Jones said he was thrilled to make it to match play with his brother and dad.
“It’s fun,” Cooper Jones said. “I’m glad we could all make it. We’ll see how far we get. It’s super-fun for all three of us to get there.”
He explained the he got some match-play experience in the junior ranks and enjoys it.
“This is my first time qualifying for the Utah State Amateur,” Cooper Jones said. “I like match play a lot. You can get up and down. You forget the couple of holes that you do bad on. You don’t worry about your score. You are just playing the guy you are playing.”
The Jones family wasn’t the only golfer with local ties sweating out the playoff on Tuesday evening.
Former UVU golfer Aaron Smith had bogeyed three of his last four holes during his second round and headed home, only to come back to the course for the playoff.
Smith joined former UVU head golf coach Tommy Johnson, Zane Brownrigg of Heber City and four other golfers who made pars on the first playoff hole, earning their spot in the match play competition.
At the other end of the spectrum was BYU commit Cole Ponich, who was third overall at 5-under-par. Colton Tanner, a University of Utah golfer, earned medalist honors as he finished at 8-under-par.
Now the slate is wiped clean as everyone focuses on match play. The first 32 matches will take place starting at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday on the Gold course at Soldier Hollow golf course in Heber.
For complete details and pairings, go to http://uga.org.