Anyone who decided golf should be restricted to uptight, scowling, humorless or silent folks hasn’t played with Zach Wright.
The Pinnacle senior is both driving himself towards a championship career and riding shotgun at the same time.
Headed to LSU for golf next fall, Wright’s won amateur and American Junior Golf Association tournaments, and has more to come before he heads to Baton Rouge, La., in August.
But he was already having a superb high school season before he shattered the state boys golf record for an individual at a state tournament in the Division I championships at Dell Urich Golf Course in Tucson last month.
Wright’s rounds of 62 and 63 were a combined 15-under par, and his 125 total squashed the old 36-hole record of 134 held by Desert Mountain’s Tim KcKenney (2005) and Brophy’s Ted Purdy (1991).
“I try to keep it as light as possible, not get too serious; If I’m playing with someone I know well I’ll talk a lot, keep the mood light and have fun. You take it too serious. I try to not get into that place, then you won’t play well.”
No problem on the latter part. Wright’s finished sixth or better all four years of his high school career, and found satisfaction with three birdies in his last four holes in 2010.
Instead, he one-upped himself and the field. He can hit 310 yards off the tee, but kept knocking approach shots to within 4-10 feet. It also helped that he hit multiple 40-foot butts for birdies and an eagle.
“I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, I was just playing,” Wright said. “Everything kind of went right and I rolled with it.”
Was this another record weekend waiting to be broken?
“Probably not,” Wright said. “Probably, of course. It’d be one (heck of a) two days.”
His father, once a standout wrestler, hooked Wright onto golf. He was winning youth tournaments at age 10, but by age 11 he tired of constant practicing and lost interest in the game, and gave it up. When high school began, however, he tried again, and found it more fun again to play with friends and within a team atmosphere.
It was also a big reason he chose LSU with the hope it’s the next leap towards the big-time. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll figure out something else in due time. Why worry?
“I’d be nice to play golf and make millions,” Wright said. “It’s tough but if you work out and get lucky anything’s doable.”
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Yr. Comment
Ken Iida Hamilton Sr. Three-time All-State golfer finished third in Div. I (67-67-134), won Chandler Shootout tournament and was top-five in four tournaments; Headed to Univ. of Arizona
Cody McManus Desert Vista Sr. Shot a school- and tournament-record with 64 in Flagstaff Invitational; Tempe Invite winner and district POY who finished top-5 at state tournament for second consecutive year; Headed to Pepperdine
Ryan Theisen Brophy Jr. Most consistent golfer for Div. I team champions with 9-hole scoring average of 36.7 and shot even par at the state tournament
Hayden Webb Mtn. View Jr. All-City leader finished tied for ninth at state meet and was medalist in two matches and three tournaments, plus a second-place finish; 9-hole scoring average of 35 and 18-hole average of 69.
Brett Wilson Red Mtn. Sr. Took ninth at state tournament (73-66-139) to lead deep Lions; Shot even-par at difficult Brophy Invitational and finished with 9-hole average of 35.83; Headed to Colorado State
Zach Wright Pinnacle Sr. Tribune POY set new state tournament record with 15-under-par weekend (62-63-125); Headed to LSU next fall.
Player of the Year: Zach Wright, Pinnacle
Coach of the Year: Jon Shores, Brophy: A year after a senior-heavy group underachieved, Shores took a junior-heavy group of golfers to the Division I state championship podium for the first time in 12 years.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Yr. Comment
Shane Allor Pinnacle Sr. Boise State-commit averaged 37 strokes per nine holes and shot 69-69-138 for sixth place at state
Austin Fletcher Mtn. Pointe Jr. 3-year state tournament participant finished 13th in the state tournament this year and had 36.35 scoring average for 9 holes; took top-15 spot in all six tournaments played
Tyler Kertson Brophy Jr. Shot 5-under par for fourth-place finish at the state tournament after averaging 36 per nine holes during regular season
Kolton Lapa Red Mtn. Sr. "1B" to Wilson's "1A" at Red Mountain; Averaged 35.4 per nine holes, plus a 69 at Aguila Invite, 72 at Brophy Invite and 72-72-144 at state tournament; Headed to Nebraska with Hamilton's Aaron Wong
Randy Ross Desert Vista So. Thunder's No. 2 golfer all season could duplicate McManus' accomplishments in near future after a 69-69-138 for sixth place at state tournament
Ajay Wilson Queen Creek Sr. Capped terrific H.S. career with second top-five finish in three years at state with 74-71-145 in Div. II
Brophy: Blake Toolan, Jr.
Cactus Shadows: Ryan Oldham, So.
Campo Verde: Addison Aubry, Jr.; Michael Lawson, So.
Chaparral: Andrew Shershenovich, So.; Will Twitty, Sr.
Desert Vista: Matt Liringis, So.
Dobson: Jacob Montplaisir, Sr.
Hamilton: Peter Koo, So., Aaron Wong, Sr., Nate Wong, Sr.
Horizon: Bruno Benjamin, Jr.; Zach Olson, Sr.
Mountain Pointe: Jake Britton, Sr.
Mountain View: Chad Hardy, So.
Perry: Thomas Felling, Jr.; Alex Lobeck, Jr.; Mike McGilton, So.
Red Mountain: Tim Taylor, Sr.; Colton West, Sr.
Seton Catholic: John Carosello, Sr., Austin Nelson, So.
Williams Field: Nick Hool, Sr.
Memorable Moments from the 2011 Season
• Brophy wins: A year after the Broncos fell significantly short of the program's own expectations, coach Jon Shores took a completely new bunch to the top. Led by a strong group of juniors - and five guys who were all given their first chance to play in a state tournament - the Broncos won the Division I title by three shots over Desert Vista and four ahead of Hamilton and Red Mountain. Joel Kertson's hole-in-one helped him to a fourth-place finish individually, but all five Broncos finished in the top 30.
• Talent gap: While Division I was stacked with the usual contenders (Brophy, Hamilton, Desert Vista, Red Mountain) and newcomers (Horizon, Pinnacle, Desert Mountain), Div. II had its difficulties. For starters, the new alignment put all the previous-5A-II schools into Div. I which meant kids from 4A-I schools on down comprsied Div. II. In addition, Div. II was played at par-72 Randolph North Golf Course in Tucson (Div. I was at par-70 Dell Urich G.C.) and many coaches agreed the Randolph course was measurably more difficult than Dell Urich. The result was a 15-20-shot differential up-and-down the scoreboard between Div. I and Div. II golfers. Coaches were split in opinions whether it was a random occurence or whether the division alignments will continue to contribute to the possible scoring gap between the divisions.