CHEYENNE – Kent Hagen hasn’t lived in Cheyenne long, but he accomplished something someone with ties to the Capital City hasn’t done since 1979 – win the Tyrrell Wyoming State Open.
Hagen carded an 8-under-par 62 during the final round at the Airport Golf Course to finish the 54-hole tournament 16-under 194. The score was good enough to win by two strokes.
James Marshall was the last player with Cheyenne ties to win the professional title at the Wyoming Open.
“I hit a lot of fairways, and a lot of greens. Golf seemed easy,” Hagen said.
Hagen grew up in Kent, Washington, and played collegiately at Washington State. He relocated to Wyoming in 2019 because of his husband, Rusty’s, job.
Hagen sat in a four-way tie for ninth at 8-under 132 after two rounds. He finished his final round while the lead group was on Hole No. 15, forcing him to wait to find out whether his score would hold for the lead.
Weather forced Hagen to wait longer. Lightning – and then heavy rain – delayed the tournament for nearly an hour. He earned $10,000 for his win.
“I knew (62) was a good number, especially when the guys came in from a rain delay and knew what they had to do,” Hagen said. “The weather conditions weren’t in their favor. I knew they were going to have to shoot a good number to win. Worst-case scenario, I would have had to head to a playoff.”
Hagen was 4-under on the front nine, and made the turn at 12-under for the tournament. He birdied the first three holes of the back nine, and added another birdie on the par-3 14th to get to 8-under for the round.
“I figured there were going to be low numbers out there, but I got butterflies thinking about (shooting a) 59,” Hagen said “The guys in my group started getting a little quiet, and started getting out of my way when I was 8-under through 14.
“Nerves got to me a little bit at the end. I started hitting it into the middle of the green, and having 30-foot putts. What a fun experience.”
Hagen credited the par-4 Hole No. 11 with building his momentum. He fired his second shot over the green, but rebounded by chipping in for birdie.
“That got my momentum going,” Hagen said. “I played really well. I can’t say I had any mistakes.”
Four strokes separated 12 players heading into Sunday’s final round. Li Wang of Sammamish, Washington, was tied for third at 130 after two rounds. He finished in a three-way tie for second at 14-under 196.
Wang scorched the front nine, and made the turn at 5-under 29. A bogey on the par-4 Hole No. 11 dropped him to 14-under for the tournament.
“I had a good game plan on the front nine,” said Wang, who has been battling tendinitis in his right wrist. “I was staying aggressive because there are a lot of drive-able par-4s there, and I have the distance to give it a shot, and it paid off. I had a lot of eight- to 15-foot putts on the front.
“Obviously, it didn’t go my way on the back. I was still right there, though.”
Hagen and Wang have a history together. Both grew up in Washington, and they played junior events against each other. They also spent a week together as part of Washington’s team for the Hogan Cup. As he left the 18th green, Wang stopped to congratulate Hagen on the win.
“I knew him pretty well growing up, and he has always been a fantastic golfer,” Hagen said. “He just graduated from Yale not too long ago, and has been having a really successful professional career.”
Noah Hofman of McCook, Nebraska, led the Wyoming Open after two rounds at 12-under-128. He finished at 14-under, as did James Horton of St. Petersburg, Florida. Hofman bookended his first nine with bogeys, and also carded four birdies. Three of those came on the back nine.
Horton had the low round of the tournament with his 10-under 60 on Sunday. He started his day on Hole No. 10, and was 5-under after his first nine holes. Horton also was 5-under on the front nine, despite bogeying the par-3 Hole No. 7.
“I started out a little rocky on 10, and found three trees twice before having a 20-foot putt for par,” Horton said. “I ended up draining that, and it got me in the right place. My ball striking was good, and my body felt great.
“There were a few tough tee shots, so you really had to think about where you wanted the ball to end up for your approach shot in. It kind of worked out where I trusted everything off the tee on angles that looked good.”
Horton, Hofman and Wang all earned checks worth $4,291. Colby Welch of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was fifth at 13-under 197. Welch led the tournament after the first round, and earned $3,250.
Easton Paxton of Riverton won the championship amateur flight at 11-under 199.