Van Thomas avoided asking about the leaderboard for most his round Thursday.
But when the Arbor View junior punctuated his miraculous birdie on the 15th hole at Mountain Falls Golf Club in Pahrump with a fist pump, it was obvious that Thomas knew he was in prime position. Thomas shot a 1-under-par 71, and that was enough to earn medalist honors at the Division I boys state golf tournament.
Thomas finished at 4-under 140 and won by two shots over Andrew Chu of Foothill, who shot 69 and ended up at 2 under. Coronado’s Bradley Keyer had two birdies on the back nine on the way to a 72 and tied for third with Shadow Ridge’s Ben Davis and Palo Verde’s Brandon Bauman at 1 under.
“I felt good about today,” Thomas said. “I knew going into it I had a really good chance. I knew if I just kept my cool and took it one shot at a time the results would show.”
Bishop Gorman posted five rounds in the 70s for the second straight day and shot 741 to earn the team title. Gorman seniors Frank Frisbee and Bryce McEachern each finished the tournament at 4 over to lead the way.
“It’s a collective effort,” Gaels coach Jim Stanfill said. “(Wednesday) we tossed a 77 and today we tossed a 79. Really, that’s how we’ve played all season.”
Coronado and Palo Verde tied for second, 19 strokes behind Gorman, while Bishop Manogue faded after a strong start to the back nine and took fourth.
Thomas built a commanding lead on the back nine and was 7 under for the tournament following a birdie on No. 13. He then double-bogeyed the par-3 14th hole when his tee shot went in the water, and appeared to be in trouble on the par-5 15th.
Thomas yanked his tee shot so far to the right that he had to hit a provisional ball. Instead of going out of bounds, though, Thomas’ first ball rolled down a dirt slope and stopped at the edge of the cart path.
Thomas got relief from the path and was able to hit his second shot about 25 yards short of the green. From there, Thomas got up and down for birdie to move to 6 under and held on despite bogeys on the final two holes.
“I feel like I limped in three-putting the last two holes, but I did what it takes,” Thomas said.
Bauman was in contention on the back nine, but a mistake on No. 13 proved costly. The UC Santa Barbara recruit used driver on the short par-4 and his tee shot ended up in the water to the left of the green, leading to a double bogey.
Davis had back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 and was at 5 under for the tournament until four bogeys on the final six holes dropped him out of contention. The UNLV signee shot 73.
Faith Lutheran’s Charlie Magruder played a bogey-free round with two birdies to come from behind and win the Division I-A tournament, which became a 17-hole final after a bizarre finish.
The final two foursomes played the 18th hole in near darkness, and Magruder tapped in for par on the final hole with several officials holding cellphones and flashlights on the green.
Faith Lutheran finished with a total of 804 to win the team title.
In Division III, Chris Young of White Pine won the individual title. Needles shot 841 to take the team title by 26 strokes over Battle Mountain.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.