Senior Will Agnew’s spirit, experience drives Miners
Agnew led Park City with a 4-over 75 on Thursday
Park City senior Will Agnew tapped in his last putt of the day, fished the ball out of the hole and tossed it into the water next to Park City Golf Club’s 18th hole out of frustration. He’d finished the day with a 4-over-par 75 that led the Miners and was tied for the sixth-best score overall. On a day where some of the best golfers in Region 6 were scoring in the 80s and 90s, most of them would have been thrilled with a 75.
But not Agnew.
The senior is fiercely competitive and knew that he left plenty of strokes on the board throughout the day. Agnew displayed the calm, cool, collected composure one would expect from a senior and was in control of his shots all day long on a course that is one of the toughest in the region. He finished the day hitting 15 of the 18 greens, rarely putting himself in a bad position.
But Agnew’s putting held him back on Thursday, as he two- or three-putted nearly every green despite giving himself a good chance to sink the first one almost every time.
“That’s the most (greens) I’ve probably ever hit here,” Agnew said. “I shot 67 the other day here, and so sometimes putts fall, sometimes they don’t.”
After a bogey that included three putts on the first hole, he carded a par on the rest of the front nine. His only birdie of the day came off a tee shot on the par-3 13th hole that sat down practically right next to the hole. Agnew had three bogeys on the back nine before a double bogey on the last hole of the day.
“I hit the ball pretty well and kept it in play, so that’s the most important thing here, but putting let me down and cost me a few strokes there,” he said. “You have to be clicking on all cylinders to shoot well, so if one thing’s off, it’s not going to happen.”
Challenging days on the green aside, Agnew has always had a natural gift when it comes to golf. Before he started taking the sport seriously, he was just a kid hitting golf balls on the driving range, and others started to notice.
“Before eighth grade, he would go out casually or be up at the driving range, he never had lessons or anything like that, but people would walk over to him, like older guys at the driving range, and say, ‘Where did you get this swing?’” said James Agnew, Will’s father. “He ended up getting a couple of different coaches and things like that, and the feedback that they started giving him was like, ‘Yeah, you have a natural swing.’”
The Agnews were a baseball family for a long time, as older brother Ben crushed baseballs for the Miners and Will played as well. But on the day of baseball tryouts during Will’s freshman year and Ben’s senior year, James received a call from Will.
“He said, ‘Dad, I just want to focus on golf,’ and he thought baseball would kind of take him away from that,” James said. “Since there, that’s basically really what he’s worked on, all he’s done in summer and fall and spring.”
Agnew has always had a competitive streak in him, according to his father. Like Billy Beane in “Moneyball,” Agnew hates losing as much as he loves winning.
“I don’t know how to describe it, all my kids are very competitive, Will has just this little edge to him that he just doesn’t want to be beaten,” James said. “We always talk about playing with a chip on your shoulder, Will just naturally has that.”
Agnew has since become the driving force behind the Miners, with his relentless push toward improvement serving as a model for the rest of a team that is aiming to recapture the success it experienced during a run of 11 straight state titles ending in 2018.
“He’s just kind of stepped up into that role, he likes to motivate the kids, get them going,” Park City coach George Murphy said. “I think he’s seen what guys have done before, and he wants that — the seniors that were there last year and the seniors before that. He wants to carry that tradition, that’s what we expect in a senior leader and he’s kind of taken that torch and run with that.”
There’s some extra pressure that comes with being the skipper of Park City’s golf team, especially when the team hasn’t gotten off to the start that it was hoping for. The Miners finished in fourth place on their home course on Thursday, and the season as a whole has had its ups and downs.
“That’s kind of why you play the game now — the pressure,” Agnew said. “It’s really interesting because it is individual but also you’re on a team, so just try to encourage your teammates. There’s only so much you can do for them, but being there, being a leader really helps.”
Though the results so far have made Agnew angrily toss his ball into the water to cap off a round, his process is sound. The senior’s swing is as effective as it is effortless, and Murphy likes what he’s seen from him both on and off the course.
“His swing feels so good right now,” he said. “It’s like he knows where the ball’s going, even on a tight course like this. And it just kind of seemed easy to him on the day, just not as much as it should on the green. But he’s in a good place.”
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Park City lost 7-0, but coach Tom Merchant says his team played better than the score indicates.