Wright, the club champion at The Country Club, won the Utah State Am at his home course in 2012, defeating Preston Richards 3 and 2.
Wright won the first hole in the championship match and never relinquished the lead the rest of the day. Wright built his lead to as many as four holes at several points in the match, but Richards was resilient and won the last hole of the morning round and the first two holes of the afternoon round to cut the lead to just one.
Wright regained control of the afternoon round with birdies on four and six to get back to a comfortable three-hole lead. Time was on Wright’s side and there were few chinks in his armor and the holes ran out on Richards when he was down three with two to play.
Richards, a senior at Utah Valley University, played solidly, but Wright was patient and nearly error free and it made coming from behind difficult for Richards.
Wright, a former professional with a lot of tournament experience, played deliberately throughout the day, probably in an effort to conserve energy. Tournament rules required all players to walk during the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals and Wright, at 42 years of age, knew that the younger Richards, 24 years old, would be in much better shape for the long walk.
There were several times when he seemingly grimaced in back pain during a swing, but he never complained. The morning session took four hours to play and officials began clocking the players in the afternoon portion of the match.
When Wright won the championship in 2012 his biggest hurdle came in his semifinal match when he defeated former State Am champion and star BYU player Zac Blair, 2 and 1. This year was no different. His biggest hurdle came in the quarterfinal match against another BYU star and defending champion Cole Ogden. Wright won that battle Friday morning by the same score he edged Richards, 3 and 2.
Wright’s other match play victories came against strong opponents, Brandon Hargett, 3 and 2, Jeff Jolley, 3 and 2, Mike Jurca, 2 and 1, BYU’s Tommy Higham, 4 and 3.
For Richards it was only his second year in Utah State Am match play. Last year Richards won his first match against Carey Shinkle and then got bumped from the tournament by, yes, no other than Jon Wright. Thus Richards now has a State Am match play record of 6-2 with both losses being to Wright.
This year his biggest triumph was a big upset over experienced collegian Devon Purser, 3 and 1 in the second round. He also defeated Danny Hafen, 3 and 2; Marty Jacks, 19 holes; Kurt Owen, 2-up; and Kai Ruiz, 2-up.
Wright's six wins this year at the Utah State Am give him a stunning match play record of 17 wins and only two losses. His only two losses were to former champions Jason Wight in 1995 and Dan Horner last year.
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