Park City boys golf off to 4-0 start in 5A debut
The Park City High School boys golf team was in an odd position entering the 2019 season.
After winning 11 straight UHSAA state championships, the Miners moved up a division to UHSSA Class 5A. Not only would the competition be stiffer, Park City was unfamiliar with Region 8’s talent, leaving a lot to be figured out once the season started.
“Our goal is to always win a state championship, doesn’t matter who we face or what division we play in,” said George Murphy, Park City’s golf coach. “What’s the point of not having that as an ultimate goal. There are definite strong teams for us to compete against but we are used to really good competition. … We are looking forward to the challenge.”
One thing Murphy did know was his quartet of returning players with championship experience: Seniors Eli Kimche, Parker Cutt and Ryan Wright and junior Wyatt Peterson.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Murphy was right about who would be leading the team as the foursome have led the Miners to a 4-0 start, dominating their Region 8 competition thus far.
With the season halfway over, Murphy knows what he’s looking for over the next month in order to prepare for the postseason
“My biggest focus on the season is to make sure they aren’t on the course dominating right now. … I really need to see progression so we peak at the end of September going into state.” Murphy said. “Believe it or not, it’s up to the boys as to who will represent us at region and state. If they’re on the right path and peaking, I like our chances.”
For Peterson, one of the reasons Park City has been able to sustain its excellence despite the move up a classification is due to the fact that his leaders have played against some of the top competition in the Mountain West and the country.
“Those tournaments (Amateur Golf Association) are just so competitive with so many good players so it’s great to get that experience in,” Peterson said. “It’s also a lot different when you travel to a tournament. … You have to make sure your game travels with you and ultimately that helps us here because we will know what it’s like and what we have to do to play well on the road.”
What’s helped separate the Miners from their opponents are the internal competition they go through every day at practice. The battle to make the scoring team is difficult, so the pressure is on each and every swing of the club.
According to Kimche, any experience gained playing in tournaments throughout the summer will help make a difference for everyone on the Park City squad.
“It’s funny, because you have your local and your national tournaments but in the end, every shot is the same, every putt is the same,” Kimche said. “Even at the highest level where you have the one putt where a couple hundred people are watching you or that one putt where just the geese are watching, it all matters and its all the same. You still want to prepare yourself to win no matter what, so having that mindset is the biggest difference.”
While Kimche, Cutt and Peterson have all been near the top of the scoreboard, Wright underperformed early in the season, with scores of 75 and 77. But after a two-day break to reevaluate, he started to play like the golfer Murphy expected with scores of 69 then 70.
“I just had to reset before I started to really grind away, went back out and shot a 69 and then a 70,” Wright said. “The goal for me is to go under par each time and stepping away actually helped me a lot,” Wright said. “Now, I feel like we are starting to come together with all of us playing well and winning.”
Although Murphy and his players will rarely admit it, they fully understand what’s at stake by the end of the season: hoisting that state championship trophy. It’s something they don’t talk about much, rarely even mentioning which team will likely await at the tournament.
Reigning 5A state champions Skyline return every key performer from a dominant performance in 2018 where they won the 5A state championship by 19 strokes.
“We don’t really worry about these other teams who we know are really good, because we know we are really good also,” Kimche said of the Millcreek-based team. “I would say we are the top two teams in the state overall. It’s funny because we don’t see each other at all but at the same time we know we are practicing for when we play each other. They’re doing their own thing and we are doing ours, so we’ll see them when we see them and go from there.”
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.