TEAM UTAH FROM THANKSGIVING POINT GOLF CLUB WINS THE 2021 PGA JR. LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Scottsdale, Ariz. (October 12, 2021) – Team Utah from Thanksgiving Point Golf Club in Lehi won the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. this past weekend. The Championship, which aired live on ESPN2, was won by Team Utah 7.5 – 4.5 over Team Connecticut (Torrington). This was Utah’s PGA Jr. League Championship debut, and after taking the third seed into Sunday’s match-play semifinals, it knocked off No. 2 Team Oklahoma (Broken Arrow) in the morning before defeating No. 4 Connecticut Sunday afternoon.
As Team Utah’s Ryder Huish stood over his ball in the 18th fairway, half of his teammates were waiting for him near the green hoping for the Championship win to be secured. Adding to the pressure, Huish’s teammate’s ball had found the water near the green seconds before. So Huish grabbed his 5-iron from 180 yards, landed the ball on the front of the green and watched it roll out … and roll out … and roll out, until it came to rest inside 10 feet from the hole, putting Huish and teammate Austin Shelley, 13, from Salt Lake City – and their six other teammates – in position to lock down the title. Huish two-putted the par 5 for birdie minutes later to secure the title.
“When I saw Austin’s ball in the water, I cried inside,” Huish, 11, from Highland, joked. “I said, ‘I have to hit a good shot here or it’s over.’ I pulled out my 5-iron, I felt confident, and I executed well.”
As Huish walked off the green after putting out to win, his teammates mobbed him in celebration.
“Oh my goodness, it was just amazing,” Utah Captain Tele Wightman, PGA, said. “You’ve got Oklahoma, Florida, Connecticut … such good teams, but we really believed in ourselves and felt like we had a team that could get it done. Then you are watching [the match unfold] and you think, this could be happening. The shots they pulled off towards the end, it’s amazing.”
Connecticut took the opening match of the finals, but after that Utah ran the table. The positive momentum started with the second match when Jordan Ofahengaue, 11, from Lehi, put on a putting clinic late in the round. On the par-3 16th, he rolled in a 15-footer to put him and teammate Jaxon Erickson, 14, from Riverton, 1-up.
“My partner told me [the read], actually,” said Ofahengaue. “I had something else, but I thought his line was better. So I putted it and it went right in.”
On No. 17, a short par 4, Utah put its tee shot just short of the green, but Ofahengaue and Erickson both hit so-so chips that left them with about 20 feet to the hole as Connecticut was in close for a birdie look.
It looked like Connecticut was in position to tie the critical second match at that point, but Ofahengaue again stepped up, read his line, and struck a pure putt that dropped in the center of the cup. That essentially secured their match win, and eventually set up Huish’s approach shot to be the clincher.
Ofahengaue’s “uncle” is Tony Finau, who is cousins with Ofahengaue’s father, Kelepi. Finau spent his afternoon tuned into ESPN2 watching the live coverage, tweeting and posting on Instagram.
“My man Jordan balled out to help Utah win! Proud of him,” Finau tweeted. After the match ended, Finau FaceTimed the team and told them how proud he was of what they had accomplished minutes earlier.
“He was so proud of us,” Wightman said. “We have incredible support back home and all around, and it was cool to get a phone call from Tony.”
PGA Jr. League exists to bring communities together through fun, team golf experiences… plus those experiences that transcend golf itself, like friendships that last for years to come or a newfound sense of confidence. In 2020, nearly 1,700 PGA Professional Captains rose to the challenges of the pandemic by creating responsible team golf experiences for nearly 37,000 kids.
Thanksgiving Point Golf Club is managed by Troon Golf, the resort and daily-fee club operations division of Troon. For more information on Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, visit www.thanksgivingpointgolfclub.com or call 801-768-7400.
About Thanksgiving Point Golf Club
Named one of the “Best Golf Courses You Can Play in Utah” by Golfweek Magazine, Thanksgiving Point Golf Club opened for play in 1997. The 7,714-yard course was designed by Johnny Miller and is recognized as one of the longest courses in the state. Thanksgiving Point has hosted numerous high-profile golf events, including the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship; The Champions Challenge, which featured the likes of Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Laura Davies, Fuzzy Zoeller, Gary Player and more; and the Utah State Amateur Championship.
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Troon is the world’s largest golf management company providing services at 590-plus locations around the globe, including managing 640-plus 18-hole equivalent golf courses. In addition to golf, Troon specializes in homeowner association management, private residence clubs, estate management and associated hospitality venues. Troon’s award-winning food and beverage division operates and manages 610-plus food and beverage operations located at golf resorts, private clubs, daily fee golf courses and recreational facilities. With properties located in 45-plus states and 30-plus countries, Troon’s family of brands includes Troon Golf, Troon Privé, Troon International, Honours Golf, OB Sports, Indigo Golf Partners, CADDIEMASTER, True Club Solutions, Cliff Drysdale Tennis and RealFood Hospitality, Strategy and Design. Troon-affiliated properties include Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, California; Yas Links Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; The Club at Savannah Harbor in Savannah, Georgia; and Lake of Isles in North Stonington, Connecticut. For additional news and information, visit www.Troon.com, or connect with Troon on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Troon Chronicles, Press Room, or subscribe to Troon Magazine.