The region champion 13U boys all-star golf team based at Thanksgiving Point finished second by a single point at the 2023 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship Oct. 4-8 at PGA Frisco Fields Ranch West in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.
With the sun setting and ESPN cameras rolling, No. 2 seed Team Texas (Farmers Branch) defeated No. 4 seed Team Utah (Lehi) 6.5 – 5.5 in the match play Championship final.
No one could have asked for a closer match. The teams went wire-to-wire, with the title coming down to the last match, on the last hole, between Team Utah’s Jordan Ofahengaue and Blake Brown, both 13, and Team Texas’s Chase Roman, 13, and Lincoln Rubis, 11.
2021 Champion Team Utah needed an eagle on the final hole to force a playoff and another shot at the title. They couldn’t get there, but that didn’t stop Coach Tele Wightman, PGA, from beaming about his team.
“You know, I’m just so proud of the boys,” said Wightman, PGA Director of Golf at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. “They competed all week and it was a great win against Florida today.
“They made the shots when they had to. We knew Texas would be tough and it was tight all the way, you know. They just made one more putt than we did. So, hats off to Texas. I’m proud of our kids.”
The morning Semifinals that set up the afternoon showdown featured a close call too. No. 4 seed Team Utah edged No. 1 seed Team Florida (Orlando) after a 6 – 6 end to their match.
The number of holes won was calculated as the tiebreaker, and Team Utah won 9 – 8 to move forward to their battle with Team Texas.
The Utah squad included Lehi residents Jordan Ofahengaue, 13, son of Kelepi and Sara Ofahengaue; Crue Harward, 12, son of Josh and Cyndi Harward; and Jraice Finau, 11, son of Tony and Alayna Finau.
Other golfers in the group are Blake Brown, 13, of Alpine; Cove Cummings, 12, of Grantsville; Jace Benson, 13, of Morgan; Mack Herzog, 13, of Ogden; and Ryder Huish, 13, of Highland.
The Finaus blended in with the crowd of families proudly watching their kids’ hard work on display. “I’m just a spectator, just a father,” said Jraice’s dad and six-time PGA Tour winner Tony Finau to Michael Collins on the ESPN2 broadcast, just before their final hole.
“He got three flags for his team today. Hopefully it’s enough to get them into a playoff, but if not, I had a great time following my son.”
The same Lehi team won the national championship in 2021 in the 12U age group and qualified to play at Nationals again in 2022.
The PGA Jr. League brings families and friends together around fun, team golf experiences for kids ages 17 and under, with expert coaching from PGA Professionals.