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High Schools | BOYS' GOLFER OF THE YEAR

Larsen Was No.1 on Best Team

June 21, 2002|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

About every gaudy score shot by the Santa Barbara San Marcos High boys' golf team this season had two things in common.

First, opposing coaches would shake their heads and declare the Royals the best team ever to play high school golf. Second, junior Kevin Larsen would lead the charge.

Larsen had a team-best 66 the day San Marcos shot 19-under-par 341 to finish the Channel League finals. When San Marcos blistered the Southern Section Central Coast Divisional tournament with a 354 for a 20-stroke victory, Larsen was medalist with a 67.

Larsen's 72 on a tough day at La Purisima during the Southern Section finals was one of only two scores of par or better and paved the way for a San Marcos victory.

He shot 69 when the Royals shot three under par as a team and finished second to Palm Desert in the CIF-Southern California Golf Assn. Championship.

Larsen, the Channel League individual champion, had the best score of any San Marcos player in every postseason tournament this season. Simply put, he was the best player on one of the best teams ever, earning him The Times' golfer of the year honor.

"I dreamed of having a season like this," Larsen said. "But it was pretty far out."

Far under is more accurate.

Larsen had a scoring average of 71.1 this season, shooting par or better 17 times in 26 matches. He was under par 12 times, including five rounds in the 60s, and twice shot 66. His highest round was a 78, but he shot 74 or higher only four times. He was 15 under par for the season.

"It's amazing how consistent he was," San Marcos Coach Aaron Solis said. "He became really good at eliminating mistakes this year and broke through big time."

Eliminating double bogeys from his game was one of Larsen's goals this year. He said he didn't achieve it, but his scores indicate there weren't many.

"I was a lot more mature on the course this year," Larsen said. "I was thinking my way around a lot better."

Larsen credits a strong support group that includes Solis, his teammates, parents Keith and Trang, swing coach Don Parsons, and sports psychologist Ben Heidger for his improvement.

"Those people would do anything for me," Larsen said. "Golf is an individual sport, but there are a lot of people who help you along the way."

Larsen said he would remember the high school season in a positive light even though he didn't win a major individual title and his team came up short in the CIF-SCGA tournament.

"From the beginning, everything pointed to those two tournaments," Larsen said. "We did everything we could in the [CIF-SCGA] tournament.

"You can't be too sad with three under as a team."

Or with 15 under for a season.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* THE TIMES' ALL-STAR BOYS' GOLF TEAM GOLFER OF THE YEAR Kevin Larsen, San Marcos Jr FIRST TEAM Tyler Ley, San Marcos Sr Ley is headed for USC after averaging 72.8 for one of the best high school teams ever Henry Liaw, Los Altos Jr Liaw was the Southern Section runner-up after shooting 67 to win the Central regional Brian Mahoney, Palm Desert Sr Mahoney, the Desert Valley League champion, averaged 36.9 for nine holes for the CIF-SCGA champions Taylor Wood, Santa Margarita Sr The 70.6 postseason average for USC-bound Wood was the best of any player this year Josh Wooding, Riverside Poly Jr Wooding, the Southern Section champion, was fifth in CIF-SCGA finals and averaged 35.9 for nine holes Coach of the Year: Tim Kabeary, Palm Desert Aztecs battled injuries and inconsistency during regular season, but Kabeary had them ready for postseason, upsetting San Marcos in CIF-SCGA finals after nearly doing so in Southern Section finals SECOND TEAM Jay Choi, Gahr Sr Brandon Christianson, Valencia So Kyle Dowden, Camarillo So Sean Meier, Palm Desert Sr Brian Van Heel, Westlake Sr David Yoon, Woodbridge Jr

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THE TIMES' RANKINGS

A look at the final top 10 boys' golf teams in the Southland:

1. San Marcos (SS-Channel)

Southern Section champions shot 370 or better 15 times in 25 matches. (Previous ranking: No. 1)

2. Palm Desert (SS-Desert Valley)

Postseason surge ended with a two-stroke victory over San Marcos at CIF-SCGA finals. (6)

3. Westlake (SS-Marmonte)

Finished among the top four teams at Southern Section and CIF-SCGA finals. (4)

4. Murrieta Valley (SS-Southwestern)

Breakthrough season included a third-place finish in Southern Section finals. (8)

5. Santa Margarita (SS-Serra)

Still the dominant force in Orange County despite a disappointing finish to season. (3)

6. Long Beach Wilson (SS-Moore)

Biggest upset of the year was the Bruins' failure to reach the section finals. (2)

7. Riverside Poly (SS-Ivy)

Missed section finals by a stroke for the second consecutive year. (5)

8. La Quinta (SS-Desert Valley)

Blackhawks emerged as legitimate threat to league-rival Palm Desert. (NR)

9. Brentwood (SS-Delphic)

Northern Divisional champions played consistently from beginning to end. (NR)

10. Woodbridge (SS-Sea View)

Disappointing finish in section final not enough to spoil a solid season. (9)

Peter Yoon

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