HURRICANE — It’s not the largest check of his young professional golf career – that came last year at the Major Series of Putting in Las Vegas – but the champion’s check of $18,000 presented to Taylor Montgomery by the Sand Hollow Leavitt Group Open is perhaps his most significant.
Montgomery, a former UNLV men’s golf team member, survived a four-man, one-hole playoff on the 18th hole at Sand Hollow Resort Saturday to make claim to the first-place purse and the Leavitt Group’s sponsor exemption into the 2019 Web.Com Tour Utah Championship.
In terms of importance, the confidence gained by beating a strong field a few weeks ahead of Q-School ranks right up there with the trophy, cash and exemption.
Over the three-day tournament, Montgomery shot rounds of 65-65-69 – 199 to finish 17-under, tied with defending champion Tom Whitney, Ben Geyer and Eric McCardle. McCardle had turned in the low round of the tournament on the final day with a 9-under 63, one shot shy of the course record.
Montgomery’s best drive of the day left him with just a little over 100-yards on the 440-yard hole playoff hole. He then “hit a chip 52” wedge to about five feet from the hole and watched Whitney, Geyer and McCardle leave their birdie attempts to tap-in range. With a good size crowd, including his parents and girlfriend watching from the clubhouse balcony, Montgomery then sank the winning putt.
A good portion of the field, including Montgomery, now head to Q-School in early October to pursue the dream of playing golf next year on the Web.Com Tour.
“This tournament win is my biggest by far because of the Web.Com Tour exemption,” Montgomery said. “Now I know I get at least one start on the Web Tour (next year). It’s nice. This win tells me I am playing well going into Q-School.”
Rounding out the top five was former Utah Open champion Zahkai Brown with a 16-under finish. The low Utah professional was former Utah State Aggie Seokwon Jeon at 11-under and alone in 18th place.
Past winners of the Sand Hollow Open include Taylor Aldridge (2014), Zac Blair (2015 and 2016) and Whitney (2017), all of whom have played or are now playing on the PGA Tour or Web.Com Tour.
Final results of the 2018 Sand Hollow Leavitt Group Open are available here.
After the first two days of play, Saturday’s field was cut to the low 50 players plus ties at 3-under par 141, with four players coming in on that number, including rookie professional and former Brigham Young University player CJ Lee. Shadow Creek head professional Monte Montgomery, father of tournament winner Taylor Montgomery also made Saturday’s cut on that number.
Also on Friday, for the second round in a row, a player hit a hole-in-one on the front side of the championship course. Professional Matthew Moroz provided the dramatic shot of the day when he aced the par-4, 355-yard fifth hole with his driver. Moroz had just three-putted the par-5 fourth hole and was feeling a little angry and pulled the driver on the next tee, a hole where many players hit much less.
The low round of the second day was turned in by Andre Metzger, who shot 64 to jump to 11-under for the tournament and was tied for fifth after Friday’s round.
“I had a good round highlighted by an eagle on my first hole, the 10th,” Metzger said. “Unfortunately I had a three-putt bogey on my last hole to finish the round, but all and all a good day with an unfortunate ending.”
By design, the Sand Hollow Leavitt Group Open features a field of golf professionals from across the country. Four years ago, tournament administrators and title sponsor, the Leavitt Group, created the Sand Hollow Open for the benefit of traveling mini-tour professionals, whether they call Utah home or not. The goal was to fill the need for a strong tournament field, a decent purse that boasts of an $18,000 first-place check and having an event that would be played within a few weeks of the Web.Com Tour’s first stage of Q-School.
Written by RANDY DODSON, Fairways Media.