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4/13/2014

GCHS golfers finish in fifth at home invite.

GCHS golfers finish in fifth at home invite.

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

The Garden City High School boys golf team was unable to take advantage of both the home course advantage and ideal weather conditions on Saturday at its own invitational at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

That resulted in the Buffs placing fifth in the 12-team field with a score of 332 while Hutchinson captured the team title at 312. Western Athletic Conference foe Hays High was second with a 319, Guymon, Okla., took third at 323 and Maize finished just ahead of the Buffs at 330.

Individually, freshman Taylor Larsen was the top performer, but his 8-over-par 80 was good enough for only a tie for 10th place, while top-medalist honors went to Hutch's Turner Wintz, who fired a 3-over-par 75. Three Hutch golfers placed among the top nine, while Hays High also put three in the top nine spots.

If nothing else, the Buffs were consistent in their scoring from the front nine holes to the back nine holes, with Larsen shooting 40s on both sides. Seniors Austin Swender (42-40--80) and Tucker Schiffelbein (44-43--87) also had consistent nines, while freshman Logan Durst had the best 9-hole total with a 39 on the par-36 back nine after an opening 44 for his 83. Junior Connor Schultz had a 91 (45-46) and sophomore Parker Tanner followed with a 92 (46-46).

Tanner was substituting for junior Tristan Corrales, who was forced to sit out due to ineligibility issues.

For Larsen, making his high school debut after a stellar 2013 summer junior golf season, was nothing short of nerveracking.

"At times it felt like any other tournament, but I certainly felt the team pressure, knowing how I played might affect the others," Larsen said. "But it's something I'll get used to. Honestly, I felt like I didn't play well."

Perhaps that comes from a round that included 36 putts, a pair of 3-putts included,

"Putting just killed me," Larsen said. "I hit the ball good enough to have a good score. But I just didn't chip the ball well and couldn't make those 6-footers to save par. I'd still like to do better and I believe I will. This is just a motivator for me to keep working hard."

For Walker Frey, beginning his second year as the GCHS coach, it was a day mixed with some positives as well as knowing there is much that can be improved.

"It seems like they played well, but the scores were higher than I thought they'd be," Frey said. "I'm proud of the way they handled themselves. Sometimes golfers wear their emotions on their sleeve, but the kids didn't do that."

And despite the fifth-place finish, Frey said he thought the Buffs weren't that far away from a top three finish.

"We weren't that far away with everybody dropping a stroke or two off their score, and we'd be in the lower 320s," Frey said. "We've got a lot of room for improvement, but I think the kids are working extremely hard to get better. They're practicing a lot and spending a lot of time on the range and on the putting green."

The Buffs will get little rest as they were scheduled to play at 2 p.m. today in the Manhattan Invitational if the weather holds. Forecast across Kansas for much of the day called for temperatures in the 40s, with rain expected in different portions of the state.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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