Team Utah poses for a picture after winning the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club on October 10, 2021 in Scottsdale, AZ. (Darren Carroll, PGA of America)
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ON THE LINKS – Sitting in his living room on a Saturday afternoon, PGA Tour star Tony Finau cheered like never before as he watched a back-nine rally at a major.
But that wasn’t Finau making an announcement at the Masters or a US Open or even a Ryder Cup title.
This one was for his family.
Team Utah of Jack Summerhays, Mo LeCheminant, Jaxon Erickson, Jordan Ofahengaue, Austin Shelley, Ryder Huish, Will Pedersen and Tyse Boman won the championship game three points from the third flag to Connecticut 7.5-4.5 on Sunday afternoon at the Grayhawk Hold Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“My husband Jordan teamed up to help Utah win!” Finau wrote on Twitter while posting Live Stories on his Instagram. “I am proud of him.”
Finau cheered from his couch over the ESPN2 broadcast, much like his own family and friends cheered as he put together his best finish on the PGA Tour of his career and raced through the ups and downs of the championship match. But the preteens in the squad? You never doubted.
“We felt really strong,” said Tele Wightman, the former BYU assistant coach who led the team. “They believed in each other, and they really just kept believing in it.”
Congratulations to Team Utah – your national champions 2021! 👏👏👏 # DriveToTheChampionship | @ NationalPropic.twitter.com/sRdPpin4hc
– PGA Jr. League (@PGAjrLeague) October 10, 2021
But most importantly …
“We’re just trying to have fun,” Shelley told ESPN. “We want to win, but still have fun. We thought about the competition, but we just tried to have fun.
“I’ve never played in anything like this,” he added. “It is really fun.”
Ofahengaue, who calls his second cousin “Uncle Tony” for spending so much time on the course together, made a birdie putt on the 14th hole that helped the Utah, Connecticut team with four points in the 6.5 point last game.
The 10-year-old golfer from Lehi with BYU bloodlines then stuck his approach shot from the bunker on the 18th.
Team Utah celebrates during day three of the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club on October 10, 2021 in Scottsdale, AZ. (Photo: Darren Carroll, PGA of America)
Ofahengaue has golf in its blood. His grandfather, Sivia Wightman, immigrated to the United States from Samoa and became the first PGA member from the Samoan Islands when he turned professional at Holyoke Country Club. Team Utah’s son Tele Wightman, Sivia’s son, played college golf in South Florida and enrolled on a handful of mini-tours before embarking on a coaching career that included a brief stop at the BYU women’s golf program.
Teles sisters Sara (Ofahengaue) and Juli (Erekson) both played college golf at BYU, and Juli is now the senior women’s golf coach at Utah Valley University.
“It’s really, really great,” Jordan told PGA.com. “It’s crazy that your uncle is Tony Finau.”
Congratulations to Team Utah on winning the @ NationalPro @ PGAjrLeague Championship. pic.twitter.com/ukO5NRCKvu
– PGA of America (@PGA) October 10, 2021
It took a few moments for the news to spread among the small army of Team Utah parents and supporters – a group that included former PGA Tour golfer Daniel Summerhays, who supported his son Jack in the same way he supported his Son supported him (and caded for him) at the Utah Open. But with that, the celebration got off to a big start when Huish and Shelley took victory.
Huish, the 11-year-old from Highland, smoked a second shot into the green on the par-5 18th hole that triggered a 10 foot birdie putt. Salt Lake City, 13-year-old Shelley ended the match with a simple tap-in for par to claim the national title.
“It would be wrong to say that I wasn’t nervous,” the eloquent 11-year-old told ESPN. “But my coach always says to trust my training, so I pulled my 5 iron and just hit it.”
Pedersen helped Team Utah knock out Oklahoma in the Sunday morning semi-finals of the Best Ball Team tournament. A few hours later, he tapped in a birdie to elevate Utah to the national championship.
1️⃣ Find out about these highlights from this morning’s semi-finals
2️⃣ Tune in to ESPN2 for the exciting end of the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship! pic.twitter.com/l90ePHgamn
– PGA Jr. League (@PGAjrLeague) October 10, 2021×