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BYU freshman holds off teammate, defending champion in state amateur semifinal

(Sean Walker, KSL.com)


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OGDEN — Like a prize fight as hyped up as Mayweather-McGregor, BYU teammates Patrick Fishburn and Kelton Hirsch traded blows during a semifinal round at the Utah State Amateur Championship.

All square after 17 holes, the redshirt-freshman Hirsch wasn’t going to count any shot before it hit the bottom of the cup.

But the final putt for birdie did just that.

Hirsch finished off an 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 to hold off Fishburn, one up in the second semifinal of the State Amateur at Ogden Golf & Country Club. The former Viewmont High golfer advanced to face Utah State’s Braydon Swapp in Saturday’s 36-hole final at 7:30 p.m.

“I wasn’t going to say anything or jinx it,” said Hirsch, who won the Class 5A state title in 2013. “I was ready to go, but until it fell in, I wasn’t going to say anything.”

Fishburn, the tournament’s defending champ, struck first, but Hirsch never trailed by more than one. On No. 9, he regained his own momentum, chipping in from the fringe to go 1-up at the turn and seize the momentum before Fishburn took it back with a birdie on the 337-yard par-4 13th hole.

“I missed my wedge shot but felt comfortable enough to pull the pin out,” Hirsch said of the 441-yard, par-4 ninth. “When it went in, that was a big momentum change and set the course for the rest of the match.”

Fishburn went 1 up with a birdie on No. 13, but Hirsch squared it again by taking the next hole.

On the 425-yard 17th, Fishburn nearly dropped a long putt for birdie before settling for par and setting up a winner-take-all No. 18.

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“I never doubt anything when Fishburn is putting,” Hirsch said. “When the ball is still moving, I think it can still go in. The fact that it didn’t fall was a surprise to me.”

Hirsch drilled his tee shot within 18 feet on the 165-yard 18th hole. Fishburn’s first putt from the edge of the green fell short, and when Hirsch drained his birdie, he pumped a first, slapped hands with his teammate, and hugged his mother, who ran onto the green to celebrate in Ogden.

The freshman had survived for one more day — and is now 36 holes from his first State Am title.

“I’ll just keep fighting,” Hirsch said. “It’s been a long week, but I’ll get some rest tonight and come out swinging. We play a lot of golf, so 36 more holes should be all right.”

SWAPP 2 AND 1

At Ogden Golf & Country Club, Utah State’s Swapp went 3 up after nine holes and held on to beat Weber State’s Kyler Dearden in the other semifinal to advance to Saturday’s championship.

Swapp is the first Utah State golfer to qualify for the final round of the State Am since Devin Daniels in 2008.

“It means a lot,” Swapp said. “It’s a great tournament with so many good players. To get this far shows a lot of grit. I had confidence during stroke play and I knew I was going to qualify for match play, but in match play, anything can happen. I have played a lot of match play in my life and I just came out and executed this week. I’ve played some good players, but I have come out on top so far and it’s been fun.”

Swapp, who won medalist honors after the 36-hole stroke play portion of the event, added a birdie on the par-4 10th hole to take a 4-up lead. But Dearden, who advanced to his second-straight State Am semifinal, took three of the final seven holes before halving No. 17 while down two.

“I want to get over this hump, that’s for sure,” Dearden said. “But if I keep doing what I’m doing, I think my game is there and I can beat anyone in the field. I’ll just try again next year.”

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