July 31, 2013 —
“A lot of hard work is paying off,” said Justus, now a sophomore. “I feel like I’ve improved with a lot of practice, and a lot of playing. It’s getting out there as much as you can, finding out what you are not doing well and working on that. Today was not as good as others, but I grinded.”
Justus and Tomcat teammate Logan Jones posted scores of 78 to share first place. Justus prevailed with a birdie in the playoff after hitting a gap wedge to about four feet of the flag. But Jones applied pressure by getting up and down from the sand to save par.
“He made me back off my putt to think about it,” Justus said.
On the girls’ side, Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods moved a step closer to winning EKJGA Player of the Year honors in the Grade 10-12 division, while McKinzie Walters of Rush locked up the Grade 7-9 championship for her third consecutive POY award.
Salyers carded a 92 to edge Catlettsburg’s Amber Greene by one shot.
“I’m looking forward to Wednesday to see how it all turns out,” Salyers said of the season-ending Walmart Tour stop at Mount Sterling Golf and Country Club.
Salyers, 15, is in her third year playing EKJGA tournaments.
“I think the tour is great for anyone for experience,” she said. “I started out in the 100s and 110s. The more experience, the more you learn and the better you get.”
Her highlight Monday was a sand shot from the lip of a green-side bunker.
“I had to squat down to get even close to the ball,” Salyers said. “It was a crazy lie, but I hit it to six or eight feet. I think that’s my favorite sand shot of all time.”
Walters shot 87 for her latest Grade 7-9 title.
“I was excited about the score,” the 12-year-old said. “I was good on drives. At the end, dad said I had a cracked shaft on my driver. He waited to tell me because he knew I would worry about it.”
Walters did just fine anyway, winning by eight shots. She was particularly happy about making par on No. 8, a par-3 over water.
“I never got on the green over the lake before,” Walters said. “This is a very challenging course.”
Walters came into the tournament with a 225-point lead in the Player of the Year standings for her age group and added 200 with the victory. Morgan Markwell, the closest challenger, did not feel well during the early part of the round and stopped after nine holes.