For Chaparral High School and Brophy College Preparatory, the battle for the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association state title came down to the last stroke of the last hole on the last day at Omni Tucson National Sonoran Tuesday, Oct. 31.
In the end, it was the Firebirds who lifted their eighth state crown, first since 2009 and first since joining Division I. The state championship was a two-round event Monday, Oct. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 31.
Junior Mason Domecq was the top finisher for Chaparral as he finished tied for third with senior Jack Whisler following closely behind tying for sixth. Freshman Preston Summerhays tied for 17th, senior Mason Nam tied for 25th and sophomore Nicky Kling tied for 27th to round out the Firebirds’ scorecard.
The Firebirds started their Halloween round already two strokes down from the day before. Throughout the day, the Broncos maintained a lead that would range from one to four strokes until the final holes.
On the first nine, the players were dropping birdies to battle back from bogeys on a golf course littered with red stakes and out-of-bounds markers on every hole.
With Head Coach Dan Peterson at the helm guiding the team, the Firebirds focused on their game plan as the back nine loomed.
Ultimately, those final holes would provide a litmus test of a year’s worth of work. Yet, the golfers said they had little idea that they would tee off on the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead.
Freshman Preston Summerhays, remaining true to his breakout year, capped a strong tournament with a two-putt par to close with an even-par 70. This went along with his 77 from the first round.
Sophomore Nicky Kling followed by sinking a birdie, an example of his no-quit attitude. Kling finished the round with a 74 to complement his 77 in the first round.
Now, it was the upperclassmen’s turn to see if they could stake a claim in Chaptown history.
After an out-of-bounds tee shot, senior Mason Nam holed a 30-footer for bogey (natural birdie) and finished with a 69, a stark improvement from his first-round score of 81.
Junior Mason Domecq found his approach shot in the front-side bunker in two strokes and proceeded to hole out his sandy for a birdie, igniting cheers. He closed out the round with a 68 to complement his 71 from the first round.
Once the cheering subsided, the green-side crowd knew the season would come down to both team’s last player on the last hole.
Senior Jack Whisler hit his tee shot, which took a long roll and stopped in a “spot-of-bother.”
After conferring with Coach Peterson, Whisler took a penalty drop and hit a short iron to the green. The putt from 15 feet for par never left the cup and closed Whisler’s round at 69. This was also a step up from his 73 score
Once Whistler’s shot went in, the course erupted with raucous cheers from family, friends and teammates watching.
The 18th green quickly emptied as darkness settled in over the Tucson mountains and the Sonoran golf course. No plaques or signs remain there to tell the story of what transpired this Halloween night-2017.
Still, Whisler and Nam capped their notable four-year careers with a spot in Chaparral history they said they won’t forget.
Editor’s note: Chuck Nam is the parent of Chaparral High School Senior Mason Nam