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Highland • Lone Peak senior Carson Lundell may be the best golfer on Utah's best high school golf team now.
But, until the summer before his freshman season, he thought he would be on the Knights' football team.
That was the year he broke his hand at scout camp. Though he could barely grip a golf club, he tried that sport because he couldn't play football.
"I just started golfing and liked it a lot," said Lundell.
He and teammates Max Brenchley, Elijah Turner, Jake Livingtston and freshman Josh Rooker will be on the Lone Peak team that is expected to win the Knights' third straight 5A golf championship Monday and Tuesday when the state meet is contested at the Soldier Hollow Gold Course in Midway.
The 4A tournament will also be held Monday and Tuesday at the Soldier Hollow Silver Course. Those two meets will be followed Wednesday and Thursday by the 3A and 2A state meets at the Gold and Silver Courses.
"Five of the six guys who were on the state championship team are returning," said Lone Peak coach Rob Stanger, a teaching pro who was a medalist in the '80s for Timpview and played for UCLA when the Bruins won a national golf title. "We have a lot of experience. We have depth and experience from one through sixth."
The Knights won the prestigious Antiqua national high school tournament earlier this year in Arizona as Lundell (who finished tied for sixth in the Utah State high school medalist battle last year as a junior) shot four under in the two-day tournament and finished second.
The BYU commit also took 26th in the Junior World Golf Championships at Torrey Pines his all-time favorite course.
Lundell praised Stanger for helping turn him into a golfer who has earned a college scholarship and hopes to some day play on the PGA Tour.
"Rob has helped me throughout the whole way," he said. "He has been there for everything when I needed him. It's been good to have him there."
Lundell's mother, Suzie, said all her son does his golf.
"The course is where he lives," she said. "It's his second home."
Lundell said Soldier Hollow's tough Gold Course will be a different venue than the flatter, links-style Glen Eagle course where the state golf tournament was held last year.
"Glen Eagle was not on a mountain," he said. "There were no elevation changes. At Soldier Hollow, you will hit a ball that is 50 yards downhill. You have to adjust to that. Then there is the weather. It's a lot different than last year."
Lundell said he knew this could be a special year.
"Ever since I started, I've known most of them," he said of his Lone Peak teammates. "We have been talking about this year for awhile, knowing we are going to be pretty good. We have grown up playing together. It is fun to play well."
Stanger has helped develop some of Utah's top junior male and female golfers with great support from Alpine Country Club, where he teaches from April 1 to November 1. He spends the rest of the season teaching in southern California, including some top high school programs.
"I am biased," he said. "I think Lone Peak is the number one team in the country. They are every bit as good as anybody I have ever seen in the country."
Indeed, the Knights have not been seriously challenged in any of their dozen Region 4 meets this year.
Though he has been a coach on the PGA Tour, Stanger loves coaching golfers such as Lundell.
"It is more enjoyable coaching at this level than it is out on the tour," he said. "At this level, you can still mold them. Tour players are pretty well-established."
Boys' golf state tournaments
Class 5A • Monday and Tuesday, Soldier Hollow Gold Course. Defending champion: Lone Peak
Class 4A • Monday and Tuesday, Soldier Hollow Silver Course. Defending champion: Maple Mountain
Class 3A • Wednesday and Thursday, Soldier Hollow Gold Course. Defending champion: Park City
Class 2A • Wednesday and Thursday, Soldier Hollow Gold Course. Defending champion: Manti