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Top amateurs now eligible to win Saltwater

May 24, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

Riverton Country Club golf pro Steve Johnson on Wednesday called Brigham Young University golfer Zac Blair one of the top college golfers in the United States.

Blair, a junior, will be in Riverton for the 54-hole Saltwater Classic golf tournament Saturday through Monday at the Riverton Country Club.

Blair is BYU's No. 1 player. He was named to the West Coast all-conference team. Blair finished fourth in the West Coast conference tournament. He had a 70.6 scoring average for the Cougars.

"I expect Zac to compete for the overall title," Johnson said.

Blair's father, Jim Blair, won the Saltwater title in 1987 and 2000.

"Zac played in the tournament when he was real young," Johnson said. "He used to come up with his father."

Rule change

This year, amateurs carrying a 1.4 handicap or lower will be playing from the black tees at the golf course -- same as the pros. In the past, the top amateurs have played from the green tees, one set forward.

"This year, we could have an amateur win the Saltwater," Johnson said. "We changed the rule because we are getting such a competitive field of young players. They want to test themselves against the pros."

Johnson spoke with University of Wyoming golf coach Joe Jensen about the rule change for the Saltwater.

"Joe has been great about sending his kids up to play. It gets tougher and tougher for them to come up here when they don't have a chance to win the event," Johnson said.

Strong field

P.J. Thomas won the amateur title in 2011. Thomas shot a a five-under-par 67 in the first round. The next two rounds for the amateurs were washed out because of rain and snow.

Thomas is a full-time University of Wyoming student. He won the U.S. Open qualifying field on Wednesday, May 15, shooting a 70 at the Riverton Country Club.

Riverton Middle School seventh-grader Easton Paxton is a title contender for the top amateur position.

Paxton scored a 75 in the U.S. Open qualifying round.

Eastern Wyoming college sophomore Zach Waxler of Riverton, who won the Region IX golf title, is in the top amateur flight, as are UW golfers Clinton Boutelle and Eddie Stewart.

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