Gazzolo hits hole-in-one, takes lead on Day 1 of Sand Hollow Open

David Gazzolo poses with ball after hitting a hole-in-one on the eighth hole at the Sand Hollow Open, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 20, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson, St. George News

HURRICANE — With an opening nine score of 3-under 33, highlighted by a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth hole on the championship course at Sand Hollow Resort, golf professional David Gazzolo of Riverside, California, made quick work of jumping to the top of the leaderboard at the fifth annual Sand Hollow Leavitt Group Open.

Gazzolo turned in a 8-under 64 opening round Thursday that included an ace on the 167-yard par 3 and a birdie on the par-3 third hole for a front nine score of 33. He opened his back nine with an eagle on the par-5 10th hole, but then bogeyed the par-4 12th hole before making two consecutive birdies on holes 13 and 14. Gazzolo closed par-free on his last three holes of the round, with a birdie, eagle and a bogey, for a back nine total of 31 to post the low round of the morning wave.

Defending champion Tom Whitney at the Sand Hollow Open, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 20, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson, St. George News

Defending champion Tom Whitney, who played the Web.Com Tour this season on conditional status, was one stroke behind Gazzolo with a 7-under 65.

“I’m looking forward to some comfort and familiarity here this week. I had eight birdies in my practice round yesterday. I haven’t played much golf in the last few weeks, just taking a break,” Whitney said.

“It’s been a very interesting year to say the least. I qualified for two PGA Tour events, got an invite into a third, all before I got my first start on the Web.Com Tour (with my conditional status) so, overall, a lot of good golf just not a lot of opportunities.”

That is exactly why this tournament exists, according to tournament organizers and sponsors who found a break in the tournament calendar in creating the Sand Hollow Open which attracts aspiring and veteran playing professionals looking to remain focused and competitive heading into the first Stage of the Web.Com Tour Q-school in early October.

Tournament director and Sand Hollow Resort general manager Adam Jasperson said, “We created this event as an opportunity for professionals looking for a place to play heading into Q-school. We are providing a strong field, a good size purse as well as an event that the community can get behind and be proud of here in southern Utah.”

Dusty Fielding hits the ball during the Sand Hollow Open, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 20, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson, St. George News

“The Sand Hollow Open provides multiple motivating factors for players including the opportunity to compete against like-minded players (heading to Q-School) in an off-season competition, an attractive first-place purse of $18,000 and an exemption into the 2019 Web.Com Tour’s Utah Championship. That opportunity is a big draw for our field,” said title sponsor and Leavitt Group vice chairman Mark Leavitt.

Utah Open champion Dusty Fielding finished with a 3-under 69 and is the low Utah professional inside the top 25 after day one of the three-day tournament, which concludes Saturday.

The 54-hole tournament continues Friday with a cut to the low 50-players and ties coming after the second round. Past winners of this event include Tyler Aldridge (2013), Zac Blair (2014-15) and Whitney. All have gone to play on the PGA Tour.

 To view the Sand Hollow Open leaderboard, click here.

Written by RANDY DODSON of Fairways Media.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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