KAYSVILLE, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – In the 120-year history of the Utah State Amateur golf tournament, there have been just three women who have qualified to play.
Utah Valley University senior Carly Dehlin became the third this week, and held her own in the first two days of stroke play. She shot a 77 on Monday and a 78 on Tuesday, but failed to make it to match play rounds.
As Dehlin tried to qualify for the State Am, and even during her first two days of the tournament, she said she got some looks from other golfers. Is she caddying? Is she a fan? No, she’s competing.
“I definitely had a couple looks coming my way, which was OK,” Dehlin said. “You’ve got to expect that, but everyone has been really awesome and nice. They respect it, so they’re like that’s awesome that you can come out here and do it.”
Dehlin, joined Naomi Soifua and Annie Thurman Young as the only women ever to play in the State Am, despite the fact she didn’t play competitively until her senior year of high school.
“I played competitive soccer all ten years growing up, and it was just kind of picked up quickly,” she said. “The mental game is the next thing I need to pick up.”
Carly isn’t to used to play from the men’s tees, and she said it’s taken a little getting used to playing longer holes.
“There are some holes, like 17 at Oak Ridge yesterday,” Dehlin said. “I played with Ryan Brimley and it was kind of funny because I hit a 3-wood into 17. He was like, ‘I’ll just grab a couple wedges. I was like, ‘Oh OK, that’s nice. So yeah, there are some holes that are definitely long, but it’s only a club or two, so it’s not that bad.”
Devin Dehlin, Carly’s caddy and daddy, is the executive director of the Utah Section PGA, while her boyfriend, Kelton Hirsch is the defending State Am champion. So does it get competitive on the course?
“Yeah, almost too competitive,” she said. “He’s been joking with me, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to try to beat you somehow, so I may as well try.'”
But Carly hopes she won’t be the only girl in the field in future years.
“I think more and more will play,” she said. “Girls golf has gotten so much more competitive. We don’t play all the way to this yardage, but it’s close enough. So, it’s definitely not a huge disadvantage, so I think more girls should definitely try to play because we can definitely come compete out here and at least try.”
Blake Tomlinson finished at 15-under and will head into match play competition on Wednesday as the #1 seed. The champion will be crowned on Saturday.