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AJ Ott holds on to win 60th San Juan Open

Colorado native wins third pro event; Farmington’s Yost wins amateur title
AJ Ott of Colorado Springs sinks the putt at the 18th to win the 2024 San Juan Open tournament on Sunday, June 23, 2024 at San Juan Country Club golf course. (Curtis Ray Benally/Turkeyboy Photography)

FARMINGTON – Colorado native AJ Ott withstood a late rally on the back nine before coming out on top at the 60th San Juan Open, winning the title Sunday by four shots over runner-up Jared Sawada.

The San Juan Open title was Ott’s third career professional championship.

The 26-year golf phenom from Colorado State University shot a four-under 67, including a birdie on the final hole to secure his pro tournament title.

Ott entered the final round with a five-shot advantage and was six shots clear of Sawada heading into the final nine holes on Sunday at the San Juan Country Club.

After a double-bogey on the par-3 13th hole, Ott’s lead diminished after Sawada capitalized with a birdie to trim Ott’s advantage to just three shots. Sawada birdied each of the next four holes to keep the pressure on Ott down the stretch.

San Juan Open Final Leaderboard

AJ Ott -19

Jared Sawada -15

Christian Muscarello -11

Jere Pelletier -11

Jesse Mueller -10

Josh Anderson -10

Mitchell Schow -8

Davis Bryant -8

Quinn Yost (A) -7

Derek Fribbs -6

Sam Saunders -6

Ott responded, collecting birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes before settling for a par on the penultimate 17th hole and clinging to a two-shot advantage as the final flight reached the 18th tee.

Ott’s shot off the tee at the par-3 18th hole ended up landing just 5 feet from the cup. He quickly birdied the hole to seal the victory.

Sawada’s shot off the tee was short, leaving him with a tough birdie try which hung left of the hole. Sawada wound up scoring a bogey on the final hole, leaving him with a 5-under-par round of 66 and a runner-up spot on the leaderboard.

“This tournament is really special to me and it brings out the best in a lot of us out there,” Ott said after the win. “It’s difficult to win in this sport and I’m humbled that I’m able to go out here and compete.”

Quinn Yost sinks a 8-foot putt at the 18th hole to finish the San Juan Open tournament on Sunday, June 23, 2024 at San Juan Country Club golf course. (Curtis Ray Benally/Turkeyboy Photography)

Ott, who also owns professional victories in Nebraska and California, collected $15,000 for his victory at the San Juan Open. He will not have a lot of time to rest on his laurels, as he plans to be back on the course next week for a mini-tour event in Illinois.

“The people here are really very special and the work the staff and the volunteers do to maintain the course is really amazing,” Ott said.

Defending champion Josh Thompson settled for 10-under-par in the tournament, tied for fifth place overall with Jesse Mueller, who won the San Juan Open in 2021.

The weather was a factor for many during the course of the four-day tournament. Gusty winds on Thursday, combined with steady rains on Friday, wreaked havoc for some of the event’s top players.

Play was halted midway through Friday’s second round after severe weather hit the course, causing damage with severed tree limbs scattered throughout the front nine holes.

Jared Sawada attempts a shot at the seventh green from the fairway during the final round of the San Juan Open on Sunday, June 23, 2024 at San Juan Country Club golf course. (Curtis Ray Benally/Turkeyboy Photography)

“After we stopped play Friday night, some of the members volunteered to help clean up the course and have it ready for Saturday,” said San Juan Country Club general manager David Crafton. “At about 5 a.m. the next day, about two dozen of them showed up with the maintenance crew and helped them clear the course. Without their help, we never would have been able to get both the second and third rounds completed on Saturday.”

Playing in Colorado much of his career, Ott was comfortable with the varying conditions on the course, as well as dealing with frequently changing weather patterns.

“We get our share of wind in Colorado, so I kind of felt like I was at home a little bit during the weekend,” Ott said. “I wasn’t really expecting it for this time of the year, but you always have to be prepared.”

Quinn Yost, currently attending the University of Nebraska after graduating from Piedra Vista High in 2022, was the leading amateur golfer during the tournament, ending the week in the top 10 overall at 7-under par.

Yost, who has two career top-10 finishes as a sophomore on the Cornhuskers men’s golf team, was a 2021 Junior Golf National Champion. He was also the top-ranked junior golfer in New Mexico and Class 5A state champion in 2021.

“It’s a good feeling for sure to be on the leaderboard and to be in contention,” Yost said. “It was good to get the nerves flowing a little bit and to be in that position going into those final two rounds.”

Yost sees the comparison between himself and Ott, who earned his degree from Colorado State University in 2022 and is quickly establishing himself as a professional golfer.

“(AJ) is such a good golfer and I learn so much from him and his experiences,” Yost said. “He’s a really good player and he’s been a big help to me in my career.”

For a look at the complete leaderboard, visit sanjuanopen.org.

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