Park City boys golf takes 11th consecutive state title
Another season in the bag.
Park City High School’s boys golf team, once again victorious, now has 11 consecutive state championships after a 12-stroke win over Desert Hills at the Birch Creek Golf Course in Smithfield on Tuesday.
“Everyone thinks ‘It’s Park City, they are just going to go out and win state,’ but that’s not how it happens,” coach George Murphy said.
The number makes it seem automatic – the natural outcome of what is now more than a decade of momentum – but Murphy said each year is new, each team is new, and the Miners always have to put in the necessary elbow grease.
This year, the championship was settled on the back nine.
On Monday, 16 teams took the green with 10 advancing to the second day. The Miners led the pack, earning a three-stroke advantage over tournament hosts Sky View, while Desert Hills, from St. George, followed Park City by five strokes.
The Miners finished the day with a score of 299, which, while respectable, was still the team’s worst score of the season.
The team had been close to that threshold before, with a 298 at Park City Golf Course the week before, and a 297 at Tooele’s Oquirrh Hills on Aug. 9, but it was still considered a slow start for the Miners. It didn’t create much of a cushion for the reigning champions.
Senior Jack Wright and sophomore Ryan Wright personified the day’s frustrations. Both finished the first day shooting 80s, their highest scores of the season.
“The three-stroke lead going into (day two) was basically a wash, because anything can happen,” Murphy said.
But day two was better.
Though Sky View took the lead over the front nine, the Miners closed on the back half.
“Over the season, the boys always wanted to play the back nine because it’s challenging,” Murphy said, adding that the locations of the holes themselves were tricky.
“Some were up against bunkers,” he said. “It was just a little more target golf.”
Wright, who had struggled on the first day, shot a 72 the second day.
“We needed that,” Murphy said.
Junior Eli Kimche shot a 73, followed by Griffin Ward’s 76.
Senior captain Dean Tsandes was the team’s standout performer over the tournament, logging the team’s best scores both days.
Murphy described it as “a clutch performance” by Tsandes, who just a week before wasn’t sure he would be on the six-man state team.
“It was a big season for him because … he really wanted to win the overall title last year and it didn’t happen; he was very disappointed,” Murphy said. “But he was able to approach this year with a little less pressure on himself and say ‘whatever happens, happens.’”
Though Tsandes didn’t win the title (he tied, then lost in a shootout on Hole 18), Murphy said Tsandes’ contribution to the team in the state finals was a fitting way for the senior to end his time with the Miners.
“He went out the right way,” Murphy concluded of the four-year veteran.
It was Tsandes’ first time shooting under par all season.
In the end, the Miners bested Desert Hills by 12 strokes. The Desert Hills Thunder had closed the gap on Sky View, which finished third at 14 strokes behind the leader.
Murphy said he considers each year’s state competition as the team’s first, though the messages from former players that flooded his phone after Tuesday’s win remind him of the team’s past successes.
“It’s fun to get messages from all my players that say ‘Good job; so awesome to hear; just keep it rolling,’” Murphy said. “It’s fun to hear from those guys who started the tradition.”
Murphy said Desert Hills has made continuing that tradition difficult in recent years.
“But as the new (Miners) crop rolls in, we are trying to get them to raise their game,” he said.