Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
LEHI — After draining a near-miraculous 50-foot putt from the fringe on the 18th green to win the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women's Open, Sacramento State rising senior Tess Blair ran to her father, hugged him, and celebrated like she knew she had just won the title.
The only thing was, she didn't.
"I had no idea where I was on the leaderboard," said Blair, the former Big Sky golfer of the year. "I learned that I do better when I don't know where I stand in the tournament, and I stay focused on my routine. That helps me take the best shot I can."
Turns out, she stood pretty well.
The former Bingham High golf standout carded consecutive rounds of 69 to shoot 6-under-par 138 to edge Colorado pro Bryce Ray by one stroke Tuesday afternoon at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, eclipsing a high mark in Utah women's golf.
With the win, Blair has now captured some of the biggest tournaments in Utah women's golf, including the 2018 Utah state women's amateur title, the 2021 Mary Lou Baker Open championship, and the 2022 women's stroke play championship — a Grand Slam-like round of events to build off the Utah Golf Association Women's Golfer of the Year award in 2020.
And she still has a year left at Sacramento State (with two seasons of eligibility) before she graduates next May with a degree in finance.
"After the stroke play, they let me know that I only have this left to win, and I thought it would be great to check it off my list," said Blair, who also earned an exemption into next week's Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo. "I didn't think it would be so soon, but I'm super excited. I've been runner-up a few times in this tournament, and finished in the top-10 a few times. To get it done is so exciting."
Tess Blair holds off a late-round surge from low-pro Bryce Ray, making a 50-foot birdie putt on 18 to win the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women's Open by one-stroke!#UtahWomensOpen#UtahPGA#UtahGolfpic.twitter.com/oJgl24zycb— Utah Section PGA (@UtahSectionPGA) August 9, 2022
It almost didn't. Blair led for most of the day, carding six birdies with just one bogey to take a lead that swelled as high as three strokes. But a double-bogey on the par-5 14th hole set her back, and another on the par-3 17th left her in a lurch, tied with Ray, who will head to Qualifying School in the fall.
And it got worse on the par-4 18th hole, when Blair chunked a shot to the far left side of the fairway before an approach shot left her 50 feet on the fringe, a steep slope away from a likely there-putt for bogey.
But Blair needed just one — and now, she has one Utah Women's Open trophy and a "Tess Slam" to go with it.
Maybe hold off on the name just yet, she stops.
"I'm sure someone else will accomplish it next year," Blair said with a laugh. "There are a few golfers who are pretty close."
"It's a little bit tough," she said. "But these amateur events are pretty fun, and I can play in this one as an amateur or a pro. So I know there's going to be somewhere to play and to prepare for every year."
Ray finished second, followed by Haley Sturgeon of Bountiful and defending champion Kerstin Fotu of BYU, who finished with five consecutive birdies to finish at 3-under 141. Timpview's Rachel Lillywhite and Arizona amateur Leighton Shosted were tied for fifth, with five-time Utah state women's amateur champion Kelsey Chugg, Utah Valley coach Julio Erekson and BYU golfers Lila Galeai and Berlin Long among a seven-player tie for seventh.
Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women's Open
Thanksgiving Point Golf Club
- Tess Blair (a) — 138
- Bryce Ray (p) — 139
- Haley Sturgeon (p), Kerstin Fotu (a) — 141
- Leighton Shosted (a), Rachel Lillywhite (a) — 145
- Veronica Joels (a), Kelsey Chugg (a), Juli Erekson (p), Lila Galeai (a), Ali Mulhall (a), Berlin Long (a), Sarah Salvo (a), Abbey Porter (a), Sunbin Seo (a) — 146