'Cane is in full swing
By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
INVERNESS -- Robert Taylor is a quick study.
Only a junior, the Citrus standout has come to realize what many frustrated golfers never will: The missing piece to a player's game often is mental, not physical.
Taylor says all he lacked during his first two seasons, both relatively successful ventures, was confidence. That came this fall, as did improved results.
He finished the regular season with a solid 38 nine-hole average (tied for best in Citrus County) that included a closing 2-under 34 at El Diablo, among the area's most difficult courses. He then carded a 3-under 69 to win medalist honors in the Class A, District 6 Tournament at The Dunes.
"It was a successful season," Taylor said. "I'm always hoping for more, but sometimes you have to be happy with what you get. I'm happy with the way I played and with the way the team played."
Taylor's season wasn't without its lows. He started slowly, struggled to an 82 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference tourney, and ended with a disappointing 81 in his regional, in which he bogeyed five straight holes. Before that event, he was 5-under in his previous 27 competitive holes.
"It was just one of those days," Taylor said. "Nothing really was working."
Taylor has had few of those days. He placed fifth in his district in 2001 with a 76, then carded a 79 in a regional to earn Times All-Citrus/Hernando recognition.
"Robert knows how to score," Citrus coach Chris Richardson said.
That never was more evident than in this year's district tournament.
Behind Taylor's 69, the Hurricanes shot a team-best 305 to finish second to eventual state champion Saddlebrook (292). Taylor drove well and thrived on spacious fairways. He had four birdies and an eagle, and his score could have been better. He stumbled to a double bogey on 14.
"I was playing well that day," Taylor said. "It was all clicking. It was pretty exciting. I knew on the 17th that if I parred the last hole I'd probably win. I played the last hole like I played every other hole."
He closed with par on the par-5 18th to defeat Saddlebrook's Gin Woong Kim by two and Martin Ureta by three. Two weeks later, Ureta claimed the state title, making Taylor's win even sweeter after the fact.
Taylor's ultimate goal is to play in college. Getting there will require more improvement, he realizes. He's satisfied with many of his skills but has plans to steady a driver that gave him trouble. "I've got to work on getting the ball in the fairway more," Taylor said. "I was all over the place a few times with my driver. If I get in the fairway, I know I can score."
-- Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or online at email@example.com .
ALL CITRUS/HERNANDO BOYS TEAM
ROBERT TAYLOR, JR., CITRUS: Player of the Year won Class A, District 6 title with 3-under 69, had 38 nine-hole average.
MARIO DEANGELIS, SR., SPRINGSTEAD: 39 avg., 75 in district.
FRED FARMER, JR., HERNANDO: 73 in district, 77 in regional.
IAN MORRILL, JR., CITRUS: 75 in district, 80 in regional.
GARRETT NEAL, JR., CITRUS: 39 avg., 77 in district.
GREY GONZALEZ, SO., CENTRAL: 39 avg.; won GCAC with 75.
-- Compiled by Brant James and Keith Niebuhr.
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