When he was but a boy of 12, Tayler Larsen made some news by finishing second in the City Championship.
Seven years later, the Garden City native finished off the early promise he showed at 12, claiming the city title by firing a 140 (e under par) for the two-day tournament.
Larsen, who will be a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, fired a 2-under 70 at Buffalo Dunes Sunday to go with his one-under 70 at the Golf Club at Southwind on Saturday.
That gave him a 3-stroke win over a trio of golfers, including former Garden City High School teammate Sion Audrain, who shot 72-71, Grant Vollertsen (70-73), and soon-to-be GCHS golf coach Trenton Specht (74-69).
Logan Durst finished fifth (144), while Jake Juhl, Nathan Roy and Jake Bay finished tied for sixth at 147.
Bay, who golfs for Garden City Community College, fired a 65 at Buffalo Dunes Sunday for the low round of the tournament.
“It just feels good,” Larsen said following his Sunday round. “It’s something cool to do. All the people I’ve known throughout my young career that have watched me golf, to see me finally win it.”
Larsen has competed all over the country in his career, but winning the city title is special.
“It doesn’t even feel like a tournament, just because it’s at home and I know everyone I’m playing against,” he said. “That makes it nice. Out there today, even though I’m in the hunt, I just had no pressure because it’s at home. There’s no worries. I wish all tournaments were that way.”
Conditions were similar for both days of the event, Larsen said, with the wind maybe a bit stronger Saturday.
But both courses were perfect. Southwind had struggled earlier in the spring, but the rainfall the past few weeks has changed all that.
Buffalo Dunes was groomed for great golf.
“It was in perfect shape,” Larsen said. “They do a great job out here.”
Sunday played differently for him because Dunes is shorter, he added.
“Here, I focus on keeping it in the fairway, hitting 3-irons off the tee usually,” Larsen said. “I’d try to hit a low driver sometimes, but never really swing it hard.”
He was pretty much in control of his game all round.
“Hole 13, I got a little out of control, but I wound up saving it,” Larsen said of his final birdie of the round. “That was the point in the round where I was like, OK, after that I just need to cruise and it turned out nice.”
Larsen parred the next four holes and finished with a bogey on the final hole, but he had figured he was up enough for it to not turn into a major hiccup.
Larsen was part of a nine-man team at UMKC this past spring and made the top five for the travel team, playing in seven-of-11 tournaments.
“I didn’t have any expectations (on the college team),” he said. “I played my own game and made the team. I had to work my butt off to get on the team and stay there because there’s guys behind you who want to be on the team as bad as you do.”
That pressure and spirit to compete was good for his game, Larsen said.
“As soon as I got back (to Garden City for the summer) I knew I’d gotten so much better,” he said.
The college regimen involves a lot of stretching, he added.
“That’s something I didn’t do in high school. That could have been changing my game as much as anything,” Larsen said. “I didn’t realize how big that is. It’s all about flexibility.”
Larsen said he’s improved his game just in the weeks he has been back for the summer.
“I’m loving it,” he said. “I’m really excited to go back.”