If you would have told Mitchell Abbott when he woke up Wednesday morning that he would be champion when the sun went down, he wouldn’t have believed you.
The Bishop Gorman senior started the second day of the Sunset Region boys golf tournament seven strokes back of the leader. But a strong back nine, including three straight birdies, powered Abbott to a 4-under-par 140 and a one-stroke victory at Paiute on Wednesday.
“You have to finish mentally strong, finish like a Gael,” Abbott said. Today just happened to be my day. It’s golf. Anything can happen in this game.”
If the wind was an issue for everyone else, Abbott didn’t seem to mind. Strong gusts tormented the second day of the tournament, and no one but Abbott shot under par. Abbott shot 5-under for the day, and did not bogey a hole.
He birdied the second and the seventh holes, then did so again on the 14th, 15th and 16th to take his first lead of the day. He also came inches away from at least three more birdies.
“He made a lot of adjustments from yesterday to today,” Gorman coach Jim Stanfill said. “He was on a mission.”
It wasn’t the only furious rally for the Gaels. As a team, Gorman entered the day with a one-stroke lead over Faith Lutheran in the team standings. But powered by Abbott, Gorman out-shot the Crusaders by 14 on Wednesday to win with a total score of 595. It is the fourth region title in team history, and first since 2013.
“It is probably the hardest dynamic we have as coaches at this level is get individuals to understand it’s a team event,” Stanfill said. “All of it counts toward us getting the team victory.”
Faith Lutheran shot a 610, followed by Arbor View (623) and Palo Verde (624).
Arbor View teammates Cameron Gambini and Hazen Newman each shot a 141 to tie for second, and Centennial’s Cole Thompson and Palo Verde’s Michael Salerno both carded 144s for fourth.
Faith Lutheran and Arbor View advance to state as a team, where they will join the Gaels.
“The last few years we’ve come up short even going to state,“ Abbott said of Gorman going to state for the first time since 2014. “I’ve tried to lead this team, and they’ve done a great job of really being committed to the game, and it’s awesome to come out on top.”