57th San Juan Open Tournament begins Thursday at San Juan Country Club
FARMINGTON — The 57th annual San Juan Open will take place this week, with opening round action scheduled on Thursday at the San Juan Country Club. The tournament is only one element of a week that includes scheduled events benefitting local and regional charities.
Taking place annually since 1965, the San Juan Open gives both amateur and professional golfers a chance to shine on one of the most prestigious courses in the Four Corners.
Last year, after a delay of nearly three months due to coronavirus restrictions, the tournament was played last September and won by Benoit Beisser, who fired a 21-under par 263, winning by three shots over a trio of golfers, Derek Fribbs, Steven Kupcho and Nick Mason. Those three golfers are among those scheduled to compete this week.
Recent winners of the event include Zakhai Brown (2019) and Sam Saunders (2018), who has won several events around the southwest including the 2019 Navajo Trail Open at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango, and is the grandson of Arnold Palmer.
Brown will be back at San Juan Country Club this week, looking to add a second San Juan Open tournament title to his resume, along with 42 professional and 39 amateur golfers who have registered for the event, according to San Juan Country Club general manager David Crafton.
Also among those who have competed at the San Juan Open and are scheduled for action this week are 2013 champion Jimmy Gunn, as well as Jesse Mueller, a 24-time tournament winner as a professional and current assistant men's golf coach at Grand Canyon University, and Sam Triplett, a two-time winner on the Outlaw Tour this season with his biggest victory coming last October in the Sedona Open at Oakcreek Country Club.
"The course has a lot of character to it and provides golfers with a few unique challenges" said Mueller earlier this week on his way to Farmington from Phoenix. "It's a combination of the greens and the different types of shots you have to hit that make it a great course."
In addition to the tournament action, the Open serves as an opportunity for local charities to raise funds with the assistance of both pro and amateur golfers.
Local participants from the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington and First Tee Four Corners are invited to not only meet golf professionals but also have a chance to play together.
"Net proceeds are given to local charities and we're helping kids and families in the community," Crafton said.
The San Juan Open has provided for some great opportunities for pro golfers to start their careers.
Calum Hill, who won the event in 2017 and graduated from Western New Mexico University one year earlier, picked up his first win on the European Tour earlier this month by taking the Cazoo Classic at the London Golf Club in Ash, England.
The tournament itself begins Thursday with amateur, professional and pro-am divisions. There will also be a chance throughout the week for vendors and spectators to try out merchandise on the driving range and pro shop.
For information about the San Juan Open, visit their website at sanjuanopen.org or call the San Juan Country Club at (505) 327-4451.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.