Summerhays

Grace Summerhays attempts a birdie butt on No. 11 during her match at the Utah Women’s State Amateur on Wednesday at Logan Golf & Country Club.

It’s down to four golfers.

One of them will hoist the big, silver trophy Thursday afternoon at the Logan Golf & Country Club and be crowned the 113th Utah Women’s State Amateur champion. Those advancing to the semifinals are Kerstin Fotu, Kyla Smith, Laura Gerner and Grace Summerhays.

The semifinals will begin Thursday morning at 9:30. The championship match will follow with the two survivors.

After two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday, the top 16 began match play on Wednesday morning. Fotu and Summerhays did not mess around in their two matches.

The 15-year-old Summerhays, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the school year and in Utah during the summer, jumped in front early and easily advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6 and 5 win over Cristiana Ciasca. In the afternoon, Summerhays beat BYU golfer Anna Kennedy 7 and 6.

“I’ve just been hitting fairways and greens,” Summerhays said. “My touch was a little off at the start of the first match, but I got it together towards the end. It’s hard to lose holes when you hit fairways and greens and your touch on greens is good. I just played my game and didn’t make too many mistakes.”

With her father, former PGA golfer Boyd Summerhays, taking care of the caddy duties, the teenager focused on staying in the fairway, hitting it close to the pin and sinking putts. She has certainly found her grove the past two days after a rough first day of stroke play.

“Pretty much everything was off (on Monday),” Summerhays said. “I got dialed in after that day and just kind of getting better as the week goes on.”

Perhaps a busy July for Summerhays had something to do with Monday. Earlier in the month she became the youngest female to qualify for the men’s State Am and just the fourth to play with the men. She made it to match play. Then last week she was back in Wisconsin at the U.S. Girls Junior, where she won two matches and lost to the eventual champion.

“I’m used to playing a lot because I train a lot of hours,” Summerhays said. “... I was just off to start this week.”

Against third-seeded Kennedy, Summerhays won the first four holes and was 6 up by the time they made the turn. Summerhays, who is the sixth seed, won 10 to really put the pressure on Kennedy, but the Cougar golfer from Parker, Colorado, halved the next two holes to try and stay in the match. Summerhays had too big of a lead.

“I just try to play my game and if my opponent happens to be out of position, maybe you change your thought process a little bit,” Summerhays said.

Next up for Summerhays is a match with Gerner, the seventh seed. It is scheduled for 9:40 a.m.

“I’m going to fix the stuff that wasn’t quite on today and just hope to keep improving,” Summerhays said.

Gerner, who is from Kaysville, graduated from Davis High School and plays collegiately for the University of Idaho, is well aware of her next opponent.

“I’m just going to hit and hope,” Gerner said. “It’s going to be a match where I need to make a few more putts and hope it is good enough.”

Gerner began her day with a 4 and 3 win against Cassie Campos, then had the most thrilling match of the quarterfinals. The 21-year-old faced 15th-seeded Naomi Soifua, a BYU golfer who made it to the championship match the last time the Country Club hosted the Women’s State Am in 2012. Soifua was 13 then and has improved by being able to drive the ball much further than most women in the field.

“It’s really interesting for me because I have to focus on me and playing my own game,” Gerner said. “She (Soifua) pounds it past me. They lengthened three of the par 3’s for this match, so I was like ‘thanks.’ I had never played here before, but I love it.”

Two years ago these two also had an epic match at the State Am in the first round of match play that went all 18 holes. This time Gerner was able to turn the tables. Neither golfer led by more than a hole throughout the match. It was all square after 11 and stayed that way until one of the goat holes — No. 16. Gerner was able to get a birdie to take the lead and held on for the 1-up win.

“On the 18th tee I was shaking,” Gerner said. “... I knew it couldn’t be any worse than two years ago, so go see what happens.”

This is the furthest Gerner has ever been at the State Am. In 2018, she didn’t even make it to match play.

“I came into this thinking I needed to play good golf and have fun,” Gerner said. “I’ve put way too much pressure on myself in tournaments lately.”

Fotu was the medalist from stroke play and continued to shine once stroke play began. The BYU golfer from Highland had no problem in her first match against Cora Mickelsen, winning 7 and 6. In the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old thumped Launa Wilson, 8 and 7.

“I feel like I left a lot of birdies out there the first two days,” Fotu said. “My goal in these matches was to make some of those. This course is in great shape.”

She said her main goal in match play, which she likes better than stroke play, is to not hold back.

“I didn’t think my matches (on Wednesday) would be like that,” Fotu said. “It just turned out that way. I did my own thing and took care of it. My goal was to get ahead at the beginning and go from there.”

Fotu played in the State Am the last time it was at the Country Club as a 12-year-old. She made it into the quarterfinals of match play, but lost to the eventual champion.

Smith is the highest seeded player left at No. 12. The Southern Utah golfer cruised in her first match of the day against Carissa Graft, 6 and 5. In her quarterfinal match, Smith beat Abbey Porter 4 and 3.

The St. George golfer will now face Fotu in the semifinals at 9:30 a.m.

{div} {/div}

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.