Girls golf: Richens on top, DH leads team race at 3A tourney

Dixie's Gracie Richens, file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

OREM – Looking to defend her state individual championship, Dixie’s Gracie Richens fought through the wind, cold and, sometimes, snow at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course to lead the pack at the 3A girls golf championships Wednesday.

Richens shot a 4-over-par 75, two strokes ahead of Desert Hills’ Tori Thomas (77) and three strokes better than Region 9 runner-up Lexi Hamel and Park City senior Saylor Rabe (78).

Thomas was one of four Desert Hills golfers to cruise into the clubhouse under 90, giving the Lady Thunder a decent lead heading into the second and final day of competition. D-Hills has compiled a score of 308 in the UHSAA’s version of the modified Stableford scoring system. For more on that, see the full modified Stableford scoring explanation below. The basic idea is five points are awarded for a par hole and points are scalable up and down based on hole results (zero points for five over and eight points for a Double-Eagle, etc.).

This format allows players to pick up the ball if a hole goes horribly wrong, but also rewards good players. It also encourages aggressive play as under-par scores are more highly rewarded than over-par scores.

Desert Hills’ Tori Thomas, file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The 308 by the Thunder was nine points more than second-place Park City and 11 ahead of Richens’ Dixie Flyers. Desert Hills, seeking its eighth straight state title in girls golf, recorded Thomas’ 77, plus an 82 from K’Jahna Plant, an 88 from Gabby Myer and an 89 from Abby Leitze.

Every other team had to take at least one golfer that scored over 90 and most had to count at least one round over 100 (each team has six golfers, with the top four “counting” a part of the team score).

Desert Hills has developed a nearly unrivaled dynasty in Utah high school sports under coach Laurie Dyer. She said the excitement for golf at the school is alive and well, adding that her team had 15 freshmen on the team this season.

“I only have one senior on the team out of 19 girls,” Dyer said. “I really don’t do anything to recruit girls, they just show up. Because we’ve been successful in the past, I think that if you’re moving in and you’re a golfer, I guess word gets out.”

Richens and the other golfers battled cold, wet conditions Wednesday. A strong wind made way for large, unrelenting snowflakes at one point. The weather did clear in the afternoon and is expected to be clear and cold during Thurday’s final round.

Richens, who won state last season at Midway’s Soldier Hollow, is poised to defend her title. Last year, she shot a 150 (174 Modified Stableford points), two strokes and two points ahead of Desert Hills golfer Kyla Smith. Rabe was third with a 161 (163).

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.

Modified Stableford Point Schedule:
A score higher than 5 over par (quintuple-bogie) on a hole would gain 0 points
A score of 4 over par (quadruple-bogie) on a hole would gain 1 point
A score of 3 over par (Triple-bogie) on a hole would gain 2 points
A score of 2 over par (Double-bogie) on a hole would gain 3 points
A score of 1 over par (Bogie on a hole) would gain 4 points
A score of even par (Par on a hole) would gain 5 points
A score of 1 under par “Birdie” on a hole would gain 6 points
A score of 2 under par (Eagle) on a hole would gain 7 points
A score of three under par (Double Eagle) on a hole would gain 8 points

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