It took six grueling playoff holes to crown a state champion in the first ever Girls State Golf Championship for 1A, 2A and 3A, where Alli Nakamura outlasted Courtney Smith and Mikayla Williamson to claim the first-place trophy.
Rose Park hosted this event on Wednesday where 93 girls competed nearly nine hours and three girls ended up tied at 78 to invoke the playoff.
Nakamura, a diminutive figure, was asked where she got her power from. She quickly replied, "Power is not an issue in this game." But let it be known she did not take a back seat to anyone in the long drive department. She still insisted, "My dad kept on telling me that the mental part of the game is the most important part." And in the end, her grit lifted her to the win.
Williamson went out on the first hole when she missed the green. The next four holes, Smith and Nakamura went mano a mano until they started over again at the first hole. Both players just missed the green by a few feet but Smith finally cracked as she three-putted and Nakamura dropped her par putt from just a few inches.
The first-place team trophy went to Ogden with a score of 250. Logan was second at 274, and Park City came in at 278.
Scores ballooned for many in this first year of the Utah High School Girls Golf Championship, but most were happy simply with the opportunity to play. Such was the case with Lexie Smith and Taylor Jensen, St Joseph teammates, who were more than just happy. They were ecstatic because they both posted the same score: 104. Smith said, "I am happy because it is the best I ever played and only the second time I have ever played 18 holes." She is glad they separated this tournament for girls, or she wouldn't be playing. "I like it a lot," she said, "because it gives everybody an opportunity to play."
As for Jensen, she said, "At first I didn't like it. Girls can get snobby you know." She played last year with the boys, but she likes this format now.
Dave Wilkey, executive director of the UHSAA, said he observed "a new level of fun... I saw a lot of smiles today."Another girl who played last year with the boys as a ninth-grader is Shelby Van Cott of South Summit. She says she likes the change because as she puts it: "I like the girls better because they are more talkative. The boys never say anything."