It was nerve-wracking, but it's great to be a Brighton Bengal today. —Bengal coach Jim Gresh
RIVERTON — Perhaps Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and all those Americans who couldn't make a putt down the stretch of Sunday's Ryder Cup collapse could take a lesson from the Brighton High boys golf team.
The Bengals came up with the clutch putts in a pressure-packed, sudden-death team playoff Tuesday afternoon to win the state 5A golf tournament at Riverbend Golf Course. It marked the first state title for Brighton since 1987.
"It was nerve-wracking, but it's great to be a Brighton Bengal today," said Bengal coach Jim Gresh. "It was great for the kids. It was tough, but they did great."
Brighton had led by eight shots after Monday's first round, but Lone Peak, which had won two of the past four 5A state golf titles, put on a second-day rally to catch the Bengals and force a playoff after both schools tied at 584.
That's when all the excitement began.
With a couple hundred people watching, four players from each school teed off on the par-4 No. 1 hole at Riverbend to decide the state championship. The aggregate score of the four players determined the outcome, meaning one bad shot could doom either team.
Remarkably, each of the eight golfers hit solid drives and each hit their approach shots either on the green or just off it. Then it came down to chipping and putting, and the Bengals came through.
The first big putt was made by Brighton's Charlie Duensing, who rolled in an 8-foot par putt to give the Bengals the advantage after two players from Lone Peak and one from Brighton had made bogeys.
Then it came down to a pair of birdie putts by Brighton's Jacob Byers and Lone Peak's Nick Emery. They had stuck their approach shots within two inches of each other, 7 feet above the hole. If Byers missed and Emery made his, the playoff would have continued.
Byers went first and sank his birdie putt, after which Emery's putt slid by the left side. When Brighton freshman Derek Emfinger sank a short bogey putt, it was all over.
"I'd never felt more pressure in my life," said Byers. "I knew I had to make it."
"It was a lot of pressure," said Duensing. "I was a little nervous over it, but made a good stroke and it went in."
West High junior Austin Banz won the individual title. He held off the fast-charging Henry Leng of Granger to redeem himself for a poor performance in last year's state tournament. Banz added a 70 Tuesday to his first-round 67.
"I'm really happy to win," said Banz, who won the prestigious Utah State Junior Amateur during the summer.
Banz called it "definitely" redemption for last year when he shot an uncharacteristic 87 in the first round. "I guess I put too much pressure on myself and played really, really bad," he said.
Banz started the day with a three-shot lead over two golfers and a five-shot lead over playing partner Leng. However, he got off to a slow start and was three-over after six holes. Then when Leng made five straight birdies on holes 3 through 7 (they started on the back nine), the two were all tied up.
However Banz came through with birdies on the final two holes, including a 20-footer on the final hole, to claim the title.
Byers was third overall at 141 and four golfers, Emery and Connor Copeland of Lone Peak, Dylan Chugg and Alez Herzog of Fremont, tied at 145.
Davis came in third in the team standings at 604 followed by Syracuse and Fremont at 605.
Riverbend Golf Course
1. Brighton 584; 2. Lone Peak 584; 3. Davis 604; T-4. Syracuse, Fremont 609; 6. Viewmont 611; 7. Bingham 615; 8. Alta 621; 9. American Fork 626; 10.. Pleasant Grove 631; 11.Weber 638.
*Won sudden-death team playoff on first hole
137 – Austin Banz, West (67-70)
139 – Henry Leng, Granger (72-67)
141 – Jacob Byers, Brighton (70-71)Comment on this story
145 – Nick Emery, Lone Peak (75-70), Conner Copeland, Lone Peak (76-69), Alex Herzog, Fremont (75-70), Dylan Chugg, Fremont (71-74)
146 – Kalin Peterson, West Jordan (72-74), Charlie Duensing, Brighton (73-73), Rhett Rasmussen, Alta (74-72)
147 – Jake Godfrey, Davis (76-71), Berkely Stulce, Lone Peak (75-72), Kelton Hirsch, Viewmont (70-77)
148 – Andrew Reilly, Brighton (70-78), Josh Martinez, Syracuse (72-76)
150 – Boston Watts, Viewmont (77-73), Hunter Machovsky, Weber (73-77)
151 – Greg Taylor, Davis (76-75), Mana Angilau, Bingham (72-79), Benji Judd, American Fork (71-80)