Peak to Peak's Davis Long has a little something to prove. The senior is almost two years removed from winning the Class 3A boys golf state championship and has every intention of taking medalist honors next month when the state tournament is played at the Eisenhower Golf Course at the United States Air Force Academy.
He has every intention of doing that because he couldn't repeat his championship performance last year as a junior. He finished 3-over, four strokes off 2018 champion Jackson Klutznick of Kent Denver, to take third place.
At the time, it was a tough loss to take especially since he had played so well as an underclassman for the Pumas.
"In 2017, it was a one-day tournament which I was able to win," Long said at fall sports media day. "In terms of preparation, I know after winning in 2017 I put a lot of pressure on myself and had to do well in other tournaments."
He's taking that approach to heart this season. On Monday he shot a 3-under-par 69 to win the Metro League tournament at Lone Tree Golf Club. His worst round of the year is a 77 at South Suburban where he notched a seventh-place finish.
His consistency all season is one of the primary reasons he's considered one of the favorites to come away with gold at Eisenhower. And it all started with a mentality that he developed heading into last year, a year in which a state title eluded him.
"I went into 2018 more laid back and knowing what's going to happen is going to happen," Long said. "The more you force it, the more difficult it gets."
Such is the case with golf. The numbers he comes away with after each round are enough to make a weekend adult hacker give up in frustration and list his clubs on Craigslist. He's gone for 69, 72, 73, 74 (twice), 75 and 77.
He sits third in the iWanamker.com 3A rankings and both of the golfers ahead of him have numbers more impressive. Prospect Ridge's Walker Franklin has broken 70 three times and has shot no worse than 72. Early in the season Holy Family's Jacob Mason went for 68 twice and established himself as a championship contender.
But the thing that Long has that neither Franklin or Mason do is the experience of winning on the biggest high school stage of the year.
And with regionals looming next week, Long's journey at winning a second career title begins right about now. His mentality on the course is more mature than it was two years ago and that's something that makes this fall all the more intriguing for him and his teammates at Peak to Peak.
Above all else, Long knows that in order to seize another championship he needs to let the game come to him and not get discouraged when the ball takes a wrong turn or a bad bounce, which it always does at times.
"The more you realize you just need to take the good breaks and forget the bad ones, the better it's going to get," Long said.
It's a lesson that any Sunday afternoon hacker knows all too well.