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Kansas Golf Associaition

Blake Allen’s Amazing Summer!

Junior golfer wins both Kansas Junior and Kansas Amateur

Blake Allen of Lenexa is an 18 year-old who regularly finds “the zone” on the golf course.  He did Blake Allenit at Crestwood Country Club in Pittsburg in June when he won the Kansas Junior Amateur with a last hole 40-foot birdie putt and he did it again last Sunday when he ran away from Taylor Larsen in the Kansas Amateur 36-hole final by a margin of 8&7.

Allen becomes the third golfer in Kansas golf history to win both championships in the same year.  Johnny Stevens first accomplished the double in 1960, the first year the Kansas Junior was held.  He was 16 years-old.  53 years later Chase Hanna of Leawood became the second player to win both events.  He won his Kansas Amateur on his 18th birthday.

Playing the Kansas Amateur finals at The Golf Club at Southwind, teeing it up from the tips on a calm day, Allen made 11 birdies in 29 total holes.  For the handful of holes where he actually missed the putting green in regulation, he was under par on those holes!  He made no bogeys.  He shot 31 on the front nine in the morning round, and then improved to 29 on that nine in the afternoon.  That’s a total of 60 strokes (10-under par for those 18 holes).

Here is how the local newspaper, the Garden City Telegram, told the story of the final match and Blake Allen’s amazing day (reprinted with permission of the Telegram):

Blake Allen Cruises Over Taylor Larsen in Title Match of Kansas Amateur at Southwind

In the first three days of match play at the 106th Kansas Amateur Golf Championship, Garden City’s Taylor Larsen had played 79 of a possible 90 holes in his five match victories.

He rarely found himself trailing in any match and had never had to play the 18th hole.

Blake Allen of Lenexa had played 90 of 90 holes, needing to play 20 holes (two extra) to win one of those five matches. He had three wins by a 1-up margin and one match finished at the 16th green.

So when the two teenagers — Allen, 18, and Larsen, 17 — earned their way to Sunday’s championship match at The Golf Club at Southwind, one could surmise that it would be a dogfight between perhaps the two best junior golfers in Kansas this summer.

After all, it was Allen who claimed the sponsoring Kansas Golf Association’s Junior Championship in mid-June at Crestwood Country Club in Pittsburg, while at the same time Larsen was winning the AJGA Kansas Junior in his hometown at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

Nobody, but nobody, could have anticipated what transpired Sunday at Southwind when Allen steamrolled Larsen by an astonishing 8 and 7 margin (eight holes ahead with seven holes remaining) and played the 29 holes of the finals in 11-under-par.

That’s right, 11-under-par — no bogeys, 18 pars, 11 birdies.

And it wasn’t as though Larsen, who will be a senior this fall at Garden City High School, played poorly. He didn’t. He was 1-under-par for his 29 holes of play, but it was simply not enough to battle the slight-of-build Allen, whose game resembled a radar-like Tomahawk missile system that was locked in all day.

“I feel like I played good golf, but he definitely won it,” Larsen said afterward. “He made no bogeys, he never missed much of anything. And when he did get into a little bit of trouble, he made something good happen.”

Perhaps an early omen came on Allen’s first hole of the morning round, which started under cloudy, cool and windless conditions. He rifled his second shot approach to the lengthy par-4 opening hole to within 10 feet and knocked it in for the first of a bushel full of birdies.

He then birdied the fifth, sixth and ninth holes, while also winning the seventh with a par to take a commanding 4-up lead after just nine holes.

“It was a nice cushion, but I kept telling myself I had 27 more holes to play,” said Allen, who played his opening nine holes in 4-under-par 31. “In match play, you just know it could’ve gone the other way. I hadn’t been in the lead hardly at all in any of my earlier matches. I always started out behind, so when I birdied No. 1, I thought, ‘That’s a good start.’”

After playing his best golf of the day in a stretch of holes on the back nine of the morning round (2-under-par), Larsen cut the deficit to 1-down by winning the 13th, 15th and 16th holes with birdies.

“That was definitely the highlight of my day in that run of holes,” Larsen said of his narrowing the deficit.

But on the final hole of the morning 18, both players missed the par-4 green, only to have Allen lip out his chip shot for a conceded par while Larsen left his pitch shot short, and then just ran the par putt by the hole for a losing bogey.

That left Allen with a 2-up lead and the break for lunch. The first 18 holes took just three hours to complete.

When the final round began, it looked eerily similar to the start of the morning play as Allen honed in on the flag and his approach on the first hole finished only 5 feet away. When Larsen missed the green, fluffed his pitch and missed his par putt, he conceded the short putt to Allen for birdie.

That began the birdie barrage for Allen, in a round that the future Washburn Ichabod could only have dreamed about before turning it into reality on Sunday.

On the second hole, he nailed his approach shot to 4 feet and made it to win. On the par-5 third, it was a short iron to 18 inches and a tap-in for birdie to go 5-up. If that wasn’t enough, he followed with a mid-iron to the 209-yard, par-3 fourth to within eight feet. An errant tee shot by Larsen, a dumped pitch shot into the greenside bunker and a missed pitch offered another conceded birdie, making it a 6-up advantage.

“Once I started then, it just felt like I was picking the right yardage, trusting it, and hitting it where I wanted to,” Allen said of his GPS-like play. “I can’t really explain it, because in a tournament of this magnitude, I’ve never played anything like that. Maybe I won’t ever again, but I’d sure like to. It was so much fun to be in the zone.”

The birdie run continued for Allen on the par-5 fifth, but Larsen matched it and the two halved the par-3 sixth with two-putt pars. At the par-4 seventh, both players found the center cut of the fairway and had short irons to the green.

Allen striped his to within two feet while Larsen’s ball landed on the green, spun back off against the first-cut collar. He pitched it to within a foot for a par, but conceded the short putt of Allen for birdie, putting him 7-down.

At that point, it was nearly game, set and match.

All Larsen could do was watch in amazement as Allen continued to just stripe it close and make recovery shots when he did get into trouble.

Epitomizing that were two shots of the afternoon round, when on the par-4 eighth hole, Allen hit his tee shot well right into the deep native grass. After a short search found the ball in a bad lie, his next shot advanced about 25 yards, but remained in the high grass, otherwise nicknamed the “gunch” by local members.

From there, facing 129 yards to the hole, he muscled an iron out and onto the green about 25 feet away. Larsen, meanwhile, left his approach shot about 30 feet left of the hole for birdie, but missed it. When Allen drained the par putt to halve the hole, Larsen simply shook his head in disbelief.

“I told my dad (Eric, who was caddying for him) when we were out waiting to hit the second shot, that when he got the ball on the green he was going to make par,” Larsen later explained. “It’s just one of those things, when a golfer has his day, those things just happen. It’s pretty crazy stuff. All you can do is congratulate them and know you saw something amazing happen.”

The ending of the match came in true form on the par-4 11th, the 29th hole of the match, when Allen’s approach shot went just over the green about 20 feet from the hole, but only two feet from being in wiry, sandhill plum thickets. Larsen had knocked his second shot to within 25 feet and was potentially looking at a win to extend the match.

Instead, Larsen’s birdie putt just slid past the hole and then in finishing fashion, Allen chipped the ball into the hole to finish off his 8 and 7 rollover.

“That was the story of the day,” Larsen said, trying to keep his composure. “He seemed to catch the breaks when it could have gone the other way. His bad shots, he got away with. I couldn’t ever get that good feeling about the way the match was going.”

———

106th Kansas Amateur

Match Play Championship

The Golf Club at Southwind

Sunday

Championship (Scheduled 36 holes)

Scorecard at-a-glance

Morning 18 Holes

Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 IN TOTAL

Par 4 4 5 3 5 3 4 4 3 35 5 4 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 36 71

Larsen 4 4 4 3 5 3 5 4 3 35 5 4 4 2 4 4 2 4 5 34 69

Allen 3 4 5 3 4 2 4 4 2 31 5 4 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 36 67

Afternoon 18 Holes

Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 IN TOTAL

Par 4 4 5 3 5 3 4 4 3 35 5 4 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 36 71

Larsen 5 4 5 4 4 3 4 4 3 36 5 4

Allen 3 3 4 2 4 3 3 4 3 29 5 3

Final Score: Allen wins 8 and 7

Match Statistics: Eagles 0; Birdies (Larsen 5, Allen 11); Pars (Larsen 20, Allen 18); Bogeys (Larsen 3, Allen 0).

Of note: In the two 9-hole rounds of the front 9 at Southwind, Allen was a combined 10-under-par (31-29—60).