Nine in a row: Miners do it again at state championships
Death, taxes and a Park City High School boys’ golf state championship. On Thursday afternoon at Soldier Hollow, the Miners clinched a state title, this time with impressive depth and consistency, for the ninth-straight year, the longest consecutive streak in Utah boys’ golf history. With this title, Park City is tied for second all-time in the state in terms of total number of boy’s golf championships.
“It feels good. I think we even beat last year’s score by a couple of strokes,” said Head Coach George Murphy on his team’s 569 total for the tournament. “These guys, as far as consistency and depth with our team, they played well. … I’m proud of all of them.”
Park City’s stroke total was 42 better than the second-place finisher from Logan. Among the six selected golfers to count for the team score in the two-day tournament, half of them hit under par (72) on the Silver course. The team built up an 18-hole cushion after the first day, but instead of easing up on the final day of competition, the players shot seven strokes better, collectively.
“[Thursday] was just about attacking, being aggressive, [being] confident,” Murphy said. “Don’t be tentative, don’t protect the lead, go out there and grow it and get after it.”
And Murphy was right about beating last year’s score by two strokes. Even after losing top graduated players Mitchell Schow and Drew Fleming, the Miners came back stronger than ever in 2016 by hitting their best tournament total in the last six years.
“This is a different set of kids and you want them all to do well,” Murphy said. “These guys were able to peak just at the right time.”
Leading the way was Zane Schemmer, who almost didn’t make the cut on his own team. But after impressing in the final stretches of the season, Murphy gave him the sixth and final spot of the state team. The difficult coaching decision paid off for the Miners.
“I wanted to give it a go for my team and my coach, who believed in me enough to bring me on as the sixth man on the state team. That meant a lot to me,” Schemmer said.
Schemmer finished at four-under par (140) after the two days, tying for the top spot after regulation. This led to a sudden-death playoff on the 18th hole with two others who also hit that mark in Juan Diego’s Michael Walters and Pine View’s Noah Schone.
On the par-five hole, there’s a lateral hazard about halfway through. Most of the competitors throughout the day opted to use an iron to pull up just before hazard. This is the strategy Schemmer and Schone used in the playoff, using three hits to get on the green in regulation.
But Walters brought out his driver on the do-or-die hole, clearing the hazard and pinning his section shot just off of the green. He then putted from the fringe to get the ball close to the hole, punching it in on his next stroke to earn a birdie and put the pressure on Schemmer, who was last to hit after Schone finished with par just before Walters.
A fair amount of distance stood between Schemmer’s ball and the hole, but with a made putt he would have forced a second sudden-death playoff between he and Walters. After analyzing the putt over and over again with Murphy by his side, Schemmer lined it up and hit a beauty of a stroke.
The ball was on line, making its way towards the hole. Schemmer even gave a little fist pump as the ball reached the cup, but at the last second, it rimmed out. It was a great hit with an unfortunate ending for Schemmer, but he has no regret.
“The last putt, it started on line and I thought it had a really good chance of going in,” Schemmer said. “I set it on a good line and looked like it was in, just missed at the end. … I thought that par was going to win it. Michael [Walters] just played a great hole. With his [first] two shots, he did deserve to win that playoff.”
Other Park City players who were pivotal in the championship run were freshman Eli Kimche (141), who hit five-under par on the second day to finish as the team’s second-best golfer, and Dean Tsandes (143) following just two strokes behind. Rounding out the scoring six were Cole Lee (148), Josh Lansky (150) and Jack Hanskat (152).
Two more Miners competed at the state championships in the Individual competition, with Jack Wright (150) tying Lansky for 11th-place overall and Parker Cutt just four strokes behind with a 154. Overall, the team occupied half of the top eight spots.
When asked if this state championship meant any more to him than the previous eight, Murphy simply said with a smile, “They are all really cool.”
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