MIDWAY Apparently, the Dixie Flyers didn't want to waste any time in joining the 4A championship club.
Dixie, in the school's very first shot at winning a title in its new classification, is already 1-for-1 in the state-title department. The Flyers, behind medalist Mike Jurca and three others shooting 75 or better on Thursday, cruised past the field to win the 4A Utah High School Golf Championship by a whopping 27 strokes at Soldier Hollow State Park Golf Course. The title is Dixie's third straight in golf, with the former two coming as a 3A school. It's also believed that it's the first time in Utah prep sports history that a school has won a state title in its first chance after moving up a classification.
"We've got a good program at Dixie in all sports, not just golf, and this shows the other teams that we belong," Dixie coach Reed McArthur said. "I think 3A was glad to see us leave, but I don't know if 4A is glad to see us arrive."
Also aiding Dixie's cause were Andrew Huff (84-75), Jordan Hammer (81-76), Stephen Archibald (77-72), Griffen Schone (84-86) and Mitch McArthur (91-84).
McArthur, who is leaving the Flyers after recently accepting the head golf coach job at Dixie State University, said he knew his players were going to have a good final round following a captain-called team meeting at the hotel on Wednesday night.
"They told each other that no matter what happens, whether it's a bogey or birdie or par, don't give up because every stroke matters," McArthur said.
Besides the Flyers pulling away from a 12-shot first-round lead, Thursday's biggest move was made by the Timpview Thunderbirds which passed up a handful of teams with five scores in the 70s to grab second place. The Region 7 runners-up got a 71 from senior Tommy Forsman, a 77 from Jordan Brockbank, a 78 each from Eric Skelton and Jon Hammond, an 83 by Derek Hislop and a 79 from Cody Parkinson. The shot of the day was hit by Parkinson who made an ace, with a four-iron, on the 208-yard par-3 13th.
Pine View, another 4A Region 9 school, tied for third with Bonneville, while Payson took fifth and Box Elder sixth. Sky View, Olympus, East, West and Provo finished seven through 11, respectively.
The only suspense of the tournament came in the medalist competition. Midway through Thursday's final round four players remained in the chase. Jurca and Archibald were both 5-over for the tournament after 12 holes and were tied, one shot up on Joe Wight of Box Elder and Troy Owen of Woods Cross. But Archibald dropped a couple of shots on 13 and 14, and Jurca bogeyed the par-3 15th to make it a dead heat.
Wight was first to reach the clubhouse and his even-par 72, combined with Wednesday's 77 for a two-round 149, gave the others a number to shoot at. Owen, who played the back nine at 3-under par, had a 15-foot uphill putt on the par-5 18th to shoot 69 on the day but he left the putt short - settling for 70 and a two-day total of 148, one stroke ahead of Wight and Archibald.
"I wanted to make that putt bad because I figured three-down (on the round) would be pretty hard to beat," Owen said.
With Owen in the house at 4-over par, Jurca - 5-over at the time - was out on the course but unaware of where he stood. He thought he had the lead, but played to pad the lead rather than protect it and his aggressiveness paid off. First he rolled in a delicate 12-foot slider for birdie on the par-5 16th to tie Owen and then knocked it stiff into a 30 mph wind on the par-3 17th to make another birdie to go up by one. Needing par on the final hole, he punched a knock-down seven-iron to eight feet from the cup which gave him an easy two-putt par for a final-round 70 and the title."That approach shot I hit on No. 18 was the shot of my life," Jurca said. "And when I eased that putt down there I knew it was mine."