PAYSON — Seldom do teenagers get burned out on something that's supposed to be fun.
Golf is certainly one of those activities intended to be enjoyable. But after years of playing competitively on the junior golf circuit, Josh Sakamaki decided to take a break from the game and the Timpview High student sat out last year's high school golf season.
But it's a new year, a new season, and Sakamaki is back playing for the Thunderbirds. He's feeling refreshed, and his golf game is showing it.
Sakamaki used a 34 on the back side Thursday to fire a 2-over par 73 at Gladstan Golf Course to win medalist honors for the second time in four Region 7 matches. He edged Springville's Clark Fredrickson by one shot and moved into second place in the league's overall individual standings — 11 shots behind Fredrickson. Red Devils Paul Norman and Colten Lamb both dropped a spot and are now 14 and 15 shots behind Fredrickson respectively. Orem's Davis Gull is next, 20 shots back.
During last month's team qualifying rounds, Sakamaki shot below par every day. That's why Timpview coach Jim Burns is not surprised by Sakamaki's scores in region matches. Burns even expects his star player to only get better and challenge Fredrickson right down to the wire of the region final in two weeks at TalonsCove. He also expects Sakamaki to make a run at the state medalist title next month at Valley View Golf Course in Layton.
"He's coming along," Burns said. "Come state, he'll be right there. He'll be ready."
Fredrickson, medalist at the other two league matches and runner-up twice, said he's enjoying the head-to-head battle brewing between Sakamaki and him.
"I loved it out there today," said Fredrickson after posting a 3-over par 74. "I just need to keep hitting the ball solid and keep making some putts. I like the challenge."
Fredrickson's Red Devils team won its fourth straight match, but this time by only one shot over the host Payson Lions. Still, Springville stretched its overall lead from 41 shots to 53 by scoring 12 strokes better Thursday than the Orem Tigers. The Lions, with their good showing Thursday, are now 58 shots behind Springville but only five behind Orem for second.
In addition to Fredrickson's 74, the Red Devils got a 77 from Colby North, an 80 by Lamb, 81 by Norman and 82s from Ryan Christensen and Taylor Bankhead. Springville's depth makes the Red Devils a tough team to catch.
"Their top three guys are just too good," Orem coach Steve Downey said.
But Fredrickson said Thursday's close match should serve as wake-up call that the Red Devils can't lose their focus.
"Maybe we'll realize that our lead is not really that big," Fredrickson said.
Payson was led by a 76 from Corbin King, a 78 by Brandon Olson and 79 fired by Chad Moody. Other top scores Thursday included a 76 from Orem's Taylor Alward and a 77 by Timpview's Tom Forsman.