Davis Long is clutch.
He may not have known it at the time, but the Peak to Peak junior's game-time persona began to develop with the performance that won him the 2017 Class 3A state title. Rain shortened that tournament to one day, and Long's superb 3-under 69 was exactly what he needed to best the field by one stroke and walk away with the Class 3A state championship.
Long admits the single round that won him the 2017 state title surprised him. In fact, the pressure of repeating as state champion weighed on him for months afterwards and led to a disappointing summer season of golf. But Long came back strong in 2018, and found his place as one of the top prep golfers in all of Colorado and more importantly as a leader for his team.
It took a second clutch performance for Long to move up from eighth place and into third on Day 2 of this fall's state tournament. Davis Long is the 2018 BoCoPreps.com Boys Golf Player of the Year.
"Golf is 100-percent about patience," Long said. "I've never prided myself on that, necessarily. For me, and it sounds silly, but the bigger the event, the more I focus on my game. For something like state, I break it all down and focus on one shot at a time. I just try to keep it simple and don't overthink it. One thing I do pride myself on is that I don't hit it the best out there, but I do think I have one of the best mental games out there and I think that's served me well."
After shooting a 73 on the first day of this year's state tournament, Long carded a 70 on the second day at Boulder Country Club to climb up the standings and finish third overall. Still a junior, the Pumas' leader intends to maintain his place among the state's top golfers.
"The main thing for me this season was that I had a tough summer," Long said. "I really wanted to use this high school season as a way to get my confidence up and make golf fun. Once I got my footing, I felt like even though I didn't have my best game I could still score and stay in contention at every tournament. I just went out there and played because I love golf and it was a big landmark for me, knowing that it's not about having your best game but knowing how to navigate the course and play a good round."
For first-year head coach Michael Ventimiglia, Long's steady presence was a blessing.
"He came into the season learning from the summer," Ventimiglia said. "He had a really rough summer because after winning state, his expectations we really high for himself. But as a new coach, he came into the season taking ownership of the team with me. We focused on having fun and making sure others are successful, and I really believe that helped him get better. For him, it was all about the team and staying in his process so he could be at his best at the end."
Still a junior and already a state champion, Long has little to prove and much more golf to play. From a summer golf tournament standpoint, however, there is a lot he hasn't accomplished. That will continue to be his focus and if he can find a way to be as clutch as he had during the prep season, he'll be just fine.