Ridgeline outlasts Crimson Cliffs in sudden-death playoff for 4A boys golf state title

Crimson Cliffs golfers with runner-up trophy at state 4A championship. L-R: Sean Felts, Boston Bracken, Cruz Kirchhausen, Zach Felts, Lincoln Markham, Preston Heward and head coach Cody Felts, Smithfield, Utah, Oct. 7, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Crimson Cliffs Athletics, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In a dramatic, down-to-the-wire finish, the Crimson Cliffs High School boys golf team came up short in its bid for a third straight state championship on Thursday.

The Mustangs had rallied from one stroke behind Ridgeline with two holes left to play to tie the team score at 21-over after two full rounds. That sent the contest into a sudden-death playoff featuring the top four golfers from each team.

Ridgeline then had two of its players birdie the first playoff hole, which was staged on the challenging par-5 18th hole that several of the golfers had just finished playing. Crimson Cliffs, meanwhile, shot two bogeys for a cumulative 2-over on the playoff hole, giving the Riverhawks the title.

It marked the first time Crimson Cliffs had lost a boys golf match since the school first opened in the fall of 2019.

The state tournament was played at Birch Creek Golf Course in Smithfield, which is just 12 miles away from Ridgeline High but nearly 400 miles from Crimson Cliffs.

The Mustangs led Ridgeline by four strokes at the end of the first day’s round on Wednesday. However, the Riverhawks rallied from as many as 10 strokes back to take a one-stroke lead after 16 holes Thursday afternoon.

Lincoln Markham of Crimson Cliffs at the state 4A tournament, Smithfield, Utah, Oct. 6-7, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Heinz Kirchhausen, St. George News

Crimson Cliffs sophomore Boston Bracken then birdied the 17th hole to help narrow the gap, while teammates Lincoln Markham and Zach Felts both managed to make par on the 18th. When all the scorecards were tallied, both teams ended up tied at 597 strokes over the two rounds. 

Crimson Cliffs head coach Cody Felts said the Mustangs’ scores were uncharacteristically high.

“We’ve never posted two rounds that high,” he told St. George News on Thursday night as the team was just beginning to make the long drive back home. “But that course was really difficult in the sense of the greens. If you look at the scores, the 18th hole is where we lost it both days. I’ll bet you we gave like 10 or 12 shots on that 18th hole that first day, and then today we gave several back as well.”

“It was a tricky hole because half the green wouldn’t even hold the ball,” Felts added. “If you didn’t hit the ball in a perfect exact spot on the green, it was gone. So the local knowledge that Ridgeline had for that last par-5 was huge for them.”

Felts said his golfers played remarkably well, considering that they had virtually no familiarity with the course.

“They were all trying so hard today,” Felts said. “We have such a talented team and to see them just not play that hole very well and not get anything going … it really showed that knowing that course was certainly an advantage. It was just too far away for us to go off and play it two or three or four times before state. I wish we would have had more course knowledge, for sure.”

Felts did add that his players didn’t seem to feel undue pressure as they battled Ridgeline down the stretch.

“Our boys weren’t allowed to get on their phones, so they weren’t doing any sort of scoreboard watching,” Felts said. “They were asking a little bit here and there, but they really weren’t thinking, ‘Oh, we’ve got to catch Ridgeline.’ They were just playing their games.” 

“I didn’t feel like there was any additional pressure on the boys per se, but when it was all said and done and we ended runner-up, I’d say disappointed is a good word to use for how everybody felt. They really wanted to finish it and just came up a little short this time.”

Region 10 teams occupied five of the top nine spots in the final standings.

State 4A boys golf tournament, team results

  1. Ridgeline, 597 (+21) (won playoff hole tiebreaker)
  2. Crimson Cliffs, 597 (+21)
  3. (tie) Sky View, 620 (+44)
  4. (tie) Green Canyon, 620 (+44)
  5. Pine View, 624 (+48)
  6. Desert Hills, 633 (+57)
  7. Cedar, 653 (+77)
  8. Logan, 671 (+95)
  9. Hurricane, 672 (+96)

State 4A boys golf tournament, individual medalists (36-hole total scores)

  1. Zach Skinner, Ridgeline, 139.
  2. Boston Bracken, Crimson Cliffs, 141.
  3. Jax McMurdie, Dixie, 149.
  4. (tie) Hayden Howell, Sky View, 150.
  5. (tie) Michael Stirland, Hurricane, 150.
  6. (tie) Zach Felts, Crimson Cliffs, 150.
  7. (tie) Beckham Johansen, Ridgeline, 150.
  8. (tie) Sam Ballingham, Green Canyon, 150.
  9. (tie) Cruz Kirchhausen, Crimson Cliffs, 151.
  10. (tie) Fletcher Hamblin, Ridgeline, 151.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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