PCHS golf team shooting for its 12th straight state championship while moving to 5A
Over the past decade, there hasn’t been a more dominant high school golfing program in the state of Utah than Park City High School. The boys program has won 11 consecutive 4A state championships, fending off all challengers like Stansbury and Tooele en route.
With the 2019 season just underway, the Miners’ run could be in jeopardy as Park City moves up to the 5A division and faces new opponents.
“Our goal is to always win a state championship, doesn’t matter who we face or what division we play in. …What’s the point of not having that as an ultimate goal,” said George Murphy, Park City high school head golf coach. “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.”
Among those strong teams Murphy was referencing was Skyline in Millcreek. The reigning 5A state champs return every key performer from a dominating championship victory when the Eagles won by 19 strokes, according to Murphy.
For the Miners, the road to last year’s state championship wasn’t quite as smooth.
In the two-day state championship match, the Miners had a three-stroke lead after the first day of competition but a rough front-nine put their streak in jeopardy. But the boys rallied from behind over the final nine holes to pull out a comfortable 12-stroke victory.
“That was such a huge moment for us; a big victory,” Murphy said. “That win will help us this year because of the experience our boys picked up in having to come from behind to pull it out.”
This year, Park City is already off to a good start, having won its first match of the season at Hobble Creek Golf Course in Springville, Utah on Monday. The Miners won with a total score of 296 (+12), finishing 20 strokes ahead of second place finisher Spanish Fork High School. Jackson Holman was the individual winner by shooting a 72, while Eli Kimche finished second overall with a 73.
Instead of having a true No. 1 on the team, Murphy is going with a “leadership by committee” approach, choosing to rely on his returners to help propel the team forward.
Taking over those leadership roles are seniors Parker Cutt and Kimche, joined by junior Wyatt Peterson. All three have championship experience and been members of the team since they started at Park City
Kimche returns after finishing ninth in last year’s individual state championship while Peterson and junior Tucker Lee tied for 19th, and Cutt took 24th.
“Parker took home fourth individually two years so he has the big time experience. …Eli has played a lot of really good golf this summer and taken the next step forward,” Murphy said. “Wyatt has been playing AGA (Amateur Golf Association) this summer, traveling to different parts of the country, so that’s been really good for him.”
This season, Murphy will have a full roster of 15 varsity golfers and six on junior varsity. The squad is a combination of experience and youth, with 10 upperclassmen and five underclassmen.
“We have five kids returning from last year’s state team so we are a deep team; we have multiple guys who can go out and post a score,” Murphy said. “But we also have a couple of young guys who will push the returners, making us that much tougher.”
The two main philosophies for Murphy this year, apart from winning, will be about team depth and progression.
Part of winning when it matters most is making sure his team doesn’t peak to early in the months of August and early September, but instead a gradual incline of building confidence and depth is the ideal format to winning a state championship, according to Murhpy.
“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. “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.”
Murphy anticipates having four to six players who are weekly staples for the competitions. The remaining spots will switch be based on who’s hot and playing well, mostly determined by practice. The inner team competition expected to take place each week is what Murphy believes will drive his team.
The Miners, who began the season on Monday, will play five tournaments in the month of August and another three more in September. If qualified, they’ll compete in the state championships, a two-day event beginning Monday, September 30 at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course.
“Experience will be huge difference maker because these boys have been part of program. The bar has been set so there’s some pressure for them repeat and do what the teams before them have done,” Murphy said. “At the same time, it’s really cool to see them to rise to the challenge. Emotions can sometimes get the best of them so my job is to keep their confidence high, making sure they’re taking it shot-by-shot.”
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