This course has never been nice to me. It’s frustrating because of those last three holes. I’m not used to the snow, but I handled it. I just made some bad shots near the end. —Dixie’s Gracie Richens

OREM — Four consecutive weekend trips from St. George to the Links at Sleepy Ridge didn’t prepare Dixie’s Gracie Richens, the defending 3A state champion, for her first round at the 3A girls state golf tournament Wednesday.

Wind, rain and even snow showers greeted the golfers on opening day. When Richens got started at 9:30 a.m., she had to gather her warmest clothes and, with the exception of holes 15-17, she handled everything well, carding a 4-over-par 75.

“This course has never been nice to me,” she said. “It’s frustrating because of those last three holes. I’m not used to the snow, but I handled it. I just made some bad shots near the end.”

Richens finished the day with a smile by playing it safely on the 18th hole to claim a par. Her efforts helped Dixie to a third-place ranking in the team standings. Fellow St. George school Desert Hills leads with 308 points, using the Utah High School Activities Association’s Modified Stable Scoring System. Park City is second at 299, followed by Dixie (287), Snow Canyon (283) and Ridgeline (274).

Desert Hills, Dixie and Pine View have taken turns battling each other all season in the warmer climate of Southern Utah. Desert Hills is considered the heavy favorite with seven consecutive state titles, and the Thunder won the region crown last week. Richens, however, is the returning state medalist, topped Region 9 teams with a two-day total of 150.

“There’s a lot of good competition down our way,” she said. “There are probably at least four or five good players who could win it at any time.”

Richens, a senior who plans to attend BYU next year, hoped the four-drive to Sleepy Ridge with her father over the last month would help her score better than players like Tori Thomas, who had a 77, and K'Jahna Plant (82) of Desert Hills, Lexi Hamel (78) of Snow Canyon and others.

So far, so good. However, all of the players will likely have to prepare for chilly weather again as Thursday’s final round is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. That might help Park City, which got a 78 by Saylor Rabe and actually felt like it was playing in a warmer climate.

3A Girls State Golf Tournament

At Sleepy Ridge Golf Course, Orem

Team Scores

1, Desert Hills 308. 2, Park City 299. 3, Dixie 287. 4, Snow Canyon 283. 5, Ridgeline 274. 6, Bear River 270. 7, Stansbury 266. 8, Pine View 256. 9, Morgan 254. 10, Richfield 253. 11, Carbon 235. 12, Logan 233. 13, Tooele 228. 14, Union 225. 15, Canyon View 212.

Individual Leaders

1, Gracie Richens (Dixie) 75. 2, Tori Thomas (Desert Hills) 77. 3, Lexi Hamel (Snow Canyon), Saylor Rabe (Park City) 78. 5, Jessica Rose (Bear River), Alexis Wilson (Ridgeline) 80. 7, K'Jahna Plant (Desert Hills), Keslee Sherman (Canyon View) 82. 9, Taya Jones (Juab) 83. 10, McKenzie Schow (Park City), Grace Donahue (Park City), Gabby Meyer (Desert Hills) 88.

Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime sportswriter. He writes primarily about high school sports for the Deseret News.