Andy Hess mugshot

Andy Hess

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It’s been a while since Andy Hess has won a tournament, individually.

The Utah State University senior-to-be thought it had been five or six years since his last tournament victory. Last Saturday he put and end to that.

The Idaho Falls, Idaho, native captured the 2020 Cache Valley Amateur with a two-day total of 136 (7-under par). The annual tournament is contested on two golf courses over two days. This year the tournament began at the Logan River Golf Course last Friday, and finished up at Birch Creek Golf Course on Saturday.

It was perfect for Hess, who has been working at the River since April.

“Working at the River, I’ve had a chance to play it a lot this year,” Hess said. “I’ve been able to get comfortable with he golf course. It’s a golf course that requires you hit a really good tee shot pretty much on every hole. ... If you are not hitting it well off the tee, it can kind of reach out and grab you.”

Only one hole did that to Hess. The Aggie fired a 6-under par 65 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Tanner Alder after the first day. Hess carded seven birdies and a lone bogey on No. 18 at Logan River.

“I made a lot of putts, which was nice,” Hess said. “A 65 is a really good first-round score to start the tournament. It felt good to post that low of a number at a tournament.”

He had many birdie opportunities that helped him go low.

“Other than the one bogey, it was a really good round of golf,” Hess said. “... You want to shoot a good number at your home course. Logan River is probably the easier of the two golf courses, looking at the length. I only hit one driver off the tee. I like hitting irons off the tee.”

This was the second time Hess has played in this tournament. He tied for sixth (141) in 2018, after having the first round lead. He didn’t want that to happen again.

“I approached the second day the same way I approached the first day,” Hess said. “I didn’t want to put any added pressure on myself just because I had the lead in the tournament. I just wanted to go play like I normally would.”

Birch Creek in Smithfield is a much longer course and scores reflected that. Very few broke 70.

“Birch Creek can be hard and especially with how they had the greens and where they had the pins,” Hess said. “I got off to a bit of a shaky start.”

The 22-year-old opened with a bogey on No. 10. However, he was able to recover with a pair of birdies before making the turn. He tried to keep the momentum going from there. He finished his second round with a 1-under par 71.

Hess was in the first group out on Saturday, so he had to sweat it out the rest of the day.

“I was definitely nervous,” Hess said. “I felt like if I had posted another number in the 60’s, that would have been hard to beat. My only goal for the day was to commit to every shot and be confident in the shot I was hitting. I wasn’t able to post another number in the 60’s, so I was kind of on my toes for a while and pacing at work. ... It was well worth the wait.”

Alder, who is from Ogden, matched Hess with a 71 for a two-day total of 138 to take second for the second straight year. Brady Stanger and BYU golfer Austin Banz tied for third at 139. Former Sky View golfer Kourt Knowles tied with David Jennings for fifth at 140. Last year’s winner, Nate Nyman, tied with Lee Shephard and Jax McMurdie for seventh at 141.

Having had the college golf season come to an end early because of COVID-19, Hess has only played in a few tournaments this summer. He took second in the Logan River Am, sixth in the Northern Utah Am and played in a Jackpot, Nevada, tournament with a friend and they won.

With his win this weekend, Hess was invited to play in the Utah State Amateur, which is being contested in early September this year. After that tournament, he will be focusing in on his senior year at USU. He is hoping it happens and he can finish off his career right as an Aggie.

For now, he is going to enjoy this win.

“It was a really good weekend, good to pull one out,” Hess said. “... I haven’t won a tournament in probably four or five years. This is a good tournament with good competition.”

Hess was the lone current Aggie to play in the tournament.

Winning the A Flight at the Cache Valley Amateur was Keanu Akina with a 147, edging Jared Empey (148). The B Flight winner was Kyle Allen with a 149 as Trace Sayama was a close second at 151. The C Flight winner was Quentin Chipman with a 161, four strokes better than Tyler Crosbie (165).

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

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