Park City’s 11-season state golf streak ends
All good things must come to an end.
For the Park City High School boys golf team, the end came on Tuesday evening when, for the first time in 12 years, they weren’t crowned Utah’s state champions. The Miners took third place with a score of 589 at the two-day, 5A state championship tournament at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course in Midway. Skyline eked out a one-stroke defense of their title with a score of 584 over runner-up Farmington with 585.
“You can’t change it and it is what it is,” said Park City coach George Murphy. “I’m incredibly proud of the boys, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this still stings a bit. It’s going to continue to sting for a little while but it doesn’t take away from what we’ve done in the past and what we accomplished this season.”
Park City shot 294 on the first day and a 295 on the second day. After ending day one of the championships three strokes behind Skyline for first place, the Miners struggled to rally as Skyline (584 total) and second-place Farmington (585 total) both played well on day two as well.
“It’s hard because it came down to the smallest of margins,” Murphy said. “Being as close as we were and knowing we shot nearly 600 strokes over the two days, to finish just five behind is hard to accept. It almost might’ve been easier to deal with if we were beaten handily because then we would know there was nothing we could’ve done.”
Jackson Holman was the top finisher for Park City, placing fourth in the individual tournament with a two-day total of 145. The senior, closing out his first season with the Miners, opened with a 74 before closing with a 71. His 71 tied for the fourth lowest score on the final day of the tournament. Senior Braxton Watts of Farmington took home the top individual honors by shooting a 137, including a final-round 66.
“As a one-year guy, what Jackson did for us throughout the season was great and we were lucky to have him,” Murphy said. “For him to come out and shoot as well as he did in the state tournament, it shows how good of a golfer he is and how bright his future is.” He helped us out a lot on the year and helped stabilize our squad with his presence and play.”
As for Park City’s No. 1 senior, Eli Kimche, it was a disappointing final performance.
The senior entered the state championships with aspirations of winning an individual state title, a realistic opportunity considering his play throughout the entire season. Unfortunately, Kimche never found a groove and shot a 75 on the first day and a 77 on day two, finishing in a tie for 19th.
“It wasn’t Eli’s best golf, which is unfortunate because he came into the tournament playing extremely well,” Murphy said. “This is going to hurt, but he has a lot of golf left ahead of him, so I hope he learns from it and continues to get better.” For junior Wyatt Peterson, it was a tale of two very different rounds as he placed eighth overall.
Peterson was sensational on the opening day, taking first place with a 2-under 70. But on day two, Peterson grinded all day to a 4-over 76.
After the results were announced, Murphy says his speech was simple: deal with whatever comes your way, whether it’s good or bad.
“I think I’m definitely looking at it more philosophical than anything else because sometimes things go in your favor and sometimes they don’t,” Murphy said. “Even though we lost by the smallest of margins, we still lost and this is something that we will have to learn to live with. Not everything is going to go our way but we have to make sure we learn from it and take the right things away from this experience.”
Murphy said that any of his players who might be losing sleep aren’t alone – their coach has been, too. The players aren’t alone in feeling the pain of the loss as Murphy said he struggled with it all night, even waking up around 1 a.m. and lying in bed for the next few hours contemplating the decisions he made and what he could’ve done differently.
“In a weird way, it’s good that it hurts this much because it means that we cared so much about the game and winning,” Murphy said. “I know the boys are being tough themselves, thinking about what they could’ve done different, but I’m doing the same. As the coach though, I take the brunt of the responsibility because the boys really did a great job in the end.”
Although the streak is over, the season was still considered a success considering the Miners were crowned the Region 8 champions after going undefeated as a team in region play with five of the top-six players in the region.
Even with the loss, Park City’s run of 11 consecutive state titles shouldn’t be overlooked as one of the of the greater accomplishments in school history, according to Murphy.
But as time moves on, so must the Miners.
Murphy knows this will sting for a while but the future remains bright, as next year’s competition looks as if it will come down to Skyline, Farmington and Park City again if key players return.
Peterson and junior Charlie Taylor, who finished with Kimche in a tie for 19th, both are return next year to help lead the next group of stars to come through the program. Park City’s JV squad is no slouch either, defeating Spanish Fork High School earlier in the season, a great accomplishment considering Spanish Fork just finished fourth at the state championships.
“Although the streak is now over, it’s more motivation to come back next season and start a new one with the boys who will be returning,” Murphy said. “A lot of the JV boys were out there on the course this past week supporting the varsity. … And now they want their chance to do this and be part of the success we’ve had. They want to get back here and win in all next year, so I’m excited about to see what the future holds.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.