Tanner Johnson spent last August — and most summers before that — at his grandfather’s ranch in Crow Creek, Wyoming, moving cattle, fixing fences and doing whatever else needs to get done.
The Shadow Ridge senior golfer has never shied away from hard work.
“It’s so gratifying to complete a project,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of like golf. You’ve got to put in the hours.”
Johnson has put in the hours on the golf course and took a major step forward last summer while competing in several junior tournaments in Utah.
Johnson’s play has carried over into the high school season, and the Utah Valley signee is expected to be in contention for medalist honors when the Division I Sunset Region boys tournament tees off at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Badlands Golf Club.
The first round of the Sunrise Region tournament begins at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Badlands, and both tournaments conclude Wednesday at Primm Valley Golf Club’s Lakes Course.
The top two teams and the top five individuals from nonqualifying teams advance to the Division I state tournament, which takes place May 17-18 at Reflection Bay Golf Club.
“It’s just been nice to see the growth,” Shadow Ridge coach Steven Huesch said. “He’s been strong in the classroom, and that work ethic carries over to the golf course. He knows he can compete with the best of them now.”
Johnson hails from a well-known local golf family, as his paternal grandfather, Dave, was the longtime director of golf at the former Desert Inn Golf Club and his father, David, played at UNLV.
As a sophomore, Johnson tied for 21st at the Sunset Region tournament, and last season he finished seventh at region before struggling at the Division I state tournament.
But Johnson shined during the summer while playing several events in Utah. He shot 4-under 140 and qualified for match play at the Utah State Amateur in July before losing on the 20th hole in the round of 64.
That performance helped attract the attention of Utah Valley, and Johnson signed with the Wolverines in November. He will serve a two-year mission in Farmington, New Mexico, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will enroll in 2018.
“I’m super excited about that next chapter in my life,” said Johnson, who credits his work with local teaching pro Jeff Gallagher for his improved play. “I’m just so grateful they recognized me.”
Johnson tied for fifth at the Southern Nevada Invitational in mid-April and shot 4-under 67 during a Southwest League match at TPC Las Vegas on April 19. He posted a 2-under 70 in the final league match of the season at TPC Summerlin on May 2 and has shot under par in four of his past five rounds for Shadow Ridge.
Australian Jack Trent of Palo Verde, a UNLV commit, is the defending Sunset Region and state champion.
“Those low tournament scores, there’s definitely a lot of mistakes that I made that could be corrected. But, I definitely feel good,” Johnson said. “I feel like I’m playing good, and I’m excited to go out there and compete against a bunch of good players and a bunch of friends.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ