Fateful day PV's driving force entering state

Matt Hollinshead,
Piedra Vista's Tyler Diehl works on his long drive during Thursday's practice at San Juan Country Club. Diehl, who placed fourth overall as an individual in the 2017 6A state golf championships, looks to help guide the Panthers to a state title this season.

FARMINGTON – One measly scorecard error has been a thorn in Piedra Vista’s side, constantly reminding the Panthers boys golf team of what could have been and what can still be.

On paper, PV had an eight-stroke lead over Cleveland to conclude the 2017 Furr's Buffet 6A State Golf Championships, theoretically winning the blue trophy. But then came an incorrect scorecard signature, making it invalid.

Just like that, PV had to settle for state runner-up, three strokes behind eventual state champion CHS by technical default.

“I was just like, ‘are you serious?’ I thought it was a joke. We were just pretty disappointed,” junior Tyler Diehl said. “That really hurt. We definitely don’t want that to happen again. Even a couple days after that, we were already up here at the range practicing.”

Knowing they’re a state-championship-caliber program, that fateful day could potentially be that much-needed push to finally shoot their way to the top hosting this year’s 6A tournament Monday and Tuesday at Piñon Hills Golf Course.

“I think we’re way more motivated this year than we ever have been because of that incident,” Diehl said. “We definitely can get (the blue trophy) this year. We’ve just got to play smart, play one shot at a time.”

Piedra Vista's Trey Diehl watches his ball travel down the course during Thursday's practice at San Juan Country Club.

PV has won nine of their last 10 tournaments spanning this past fall and this spring ever since, including this year’s District 1-6A title. The Panthers won district with a stellar score of 296, a 24-stroke edge over second-place Cleveland.

“We were the hunters instead of the hunted,” Panthers coach Tom Yost said. “They get after it. I’ve got, in my opinion, probably five of the best kids in the state. It’s a loaded group, and I get them all back next year. They’re just a good group of kids that have been playing together forever. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything.”

The only tournament PV didn’t win was when it took second at the Dalton Invitational on Sept. 12 in Durango, just a couple strokes behind eventual 4A Colorado state champion Montrose.

With most of its key personnel back this season, combined with the fact that state will be in PV’s backyard, the Panthers are in an advantageous position. At the same time, PV understands it now has a target on its back.

“We’ve shot the best scores in the state all year long. We’ve got the most legs of any team that’s qualified,” Yost said. “They have to be able to balance their internal expectations versus staying in the moment.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.