When we last saw Mitchell Schow, he was hoisting the large Utah Men’s State Amateur trophy as the winner of the 2020 tournament at Jeremy Ranch Golf Club.
Since then, the Ogden native has been trying his hand as a professional golfer, playing on the PGA Canada Tour, state opens and various tournaments around the West.
But after losing his status on the Canada Tour last year, he is “back to ground zero” as he put it.
Now he has a glimmer of hope after firing the low score in the Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship qualifying earlier this week and playing two solid rounds of 66 and 68 at Oakridge Country Club that puts him playing this weekend after making the 36-hole cut.
“It’s awesome, but I’m just happy to be able to qualify and play this week,” he said. ”There were a lot of great players who didn’t qualify.”
Schow, a former University of Utah standout, said he’s been working with a mental game coach, who has helped him immensely. When he fell back to 5 under par for the tournament with a pair of bogeys on the back nine, he said he might have fallen apart in the past. But Friday he responded with three birdies that kept him a couple of strokes inside the cut line.
“I’m making baby steps,” he said.
He had to finish his first round early Friday morning because of a weather delay on Thursday and birdied three of six holes to shoot a 66. Then he had to turn around and play his second 18 and made two birdies on the front to get to 7 under for the tournament before making the two bogeys followed by three birdies.
“My putting’s been really good, my short game is really good, but my driving has been terrible,” he said. He feels if his driving comes around he can make a run up the leaderboard.
Schow was thrilled that the qualifying tournament was being played at Bonneville Golf Course in Salt Lake where he won the Salt Lake City Amateur in 2018, a course he calls “a home away from home.” He shot a 63, the best score of the 147 players trying to qualify, going 7 under on the back nine.
While Schow sits in a tie for 36th place at 8-under 134, two other Utah natives are even higher on the leaderboard.
Tyson Shelley, a 20-year-old BYU golfer who won the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur last month, added a 5-under-par 66 to his first-round 65 and sits in a tie for 10th at 131. Carson Lundell, a former BYU golfer who recently turned professional, is a stroke back at 132 after shooting a 68 Friday.
Schow praised his fellow Utahns, who both qualified at Bonneville on Monday, saying, “Utah has some amazing players right now.”
Daniel Summerhays, who is on the comeback trail after being a regular on the PGA Tour for a decade, failed to make the cut, finishing at 141 after a 71 Friday. Also missing the cut, which came at 6-under 136, were BYU golfer Zac Jones (140) and reigning Utah Open champ Blake Tomlinson (142).
Also going home early is Ogden’s Patrick Fishburn, who struggled with an uncharacteristic 1-over 72 in Thursday’s first round, which left him clear back in a tie for 136th place after finishing second in a Korn Ferry event a week ago.
Knowing he needed to go real low Friday, Fishburn came out on fire, making birdies on the first three holes and adding another at No. 7. However, he bogeyed the 10th hole, before making three more birdies to finish with a 65 and one off the cut line at 137.
Three players are tied for the lead heading into the weekend — former Oklahoma State golfer Kevin Dougherty, South Carolina’s Shad Tuten and Georgia’s Christopher Petefish, who all sit at 14-under 128. Dougherty had the best round of the tournament, a 10-under-par 61, while Petefish shot 62 and Tuten 65.
Ross Steelman, Pierceson Coody and Jake Knapp are a shot back at 129, followed by Steven Fisk, Curtis Luck and first-day leader Tim Widing at 130.
It hasn’t been a good week for former champions of the tournament as Kyle Jones (2020), Joshua Creel (2021), Josh Teater (2009) each missed the cut with 141 totals.
Defending champion Andrew Kozan came in on the cut line at 136, while 2019 champion Kris Ventura stands at 135.
Golfers will play 18 holes Saturday with the leaders going out at 3:10 p.m. The total purse is $1 million, with $180,000 going to the winner.