For The Independent
GRAYSON LAKE —
Tate Justus was a little upset — understandable because he had just scored a double bogey in Monday's Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association Walmart tournament at Hidden Cove Golf Course.
He was much happier at the end. His 1-under-par 71 was good enough for a seven-shot win over Ian Cremeans in the Grades 9-10 division.
Justus' score was Monday’s only subpar round, but it's not the only time he's done it this summer. Two weeks ago, he fired a 69 at an EKJGA tournament at Paintsville Country Club.
He also recorded the best score of the bunch at Eagle Trace Golf Course in Morehead on Friday.
Ask Justus, a sophomore-to-be at Ashland, what he's doing differently, and he hesitates for a moment.
“Let me think,” he said. “My short game was really good (Monday); I was hitting fairways.”
Justus hit 13 of 18 fairways yesterday, and he carded a 2-under 34 after nine holes. One of his few miscues came on the 225-yard, par-3 11th hole (his second of the round): first shot five yards short of the green, pitching wedge over it and a three-putt for the double-bogey 5.
“I was a little mad,” Justus said. “I missed a short putt for bogey, four feet.”
After an official reassured him he could make up the strokes, Justus did. Starting with his birdie-4 on the 538-yard par-5 No. 12: driver in the short rough right of the fairway, 6-iron to within 100 yards, pitching wedge to within seven feet, and the one-putt.
Justus finished his round with a birdie on the 375-yard par-4 No. 9. He started with a No. 2 hybrid driver to within 85 yards, a lob wedge to six feet and the putt.
After his round, Justus offered another reason for his win.
“My driver, I've hit into a lot more fairways,” he said. “I was hooking it … You can't go at greens if you're missing the fairways.”
Cremeans, who'll be a junior at Greenup County, said he “played awful” on the way to a 9-over-par 81. He said when his putts weren't short on an otherwise perfect line, they were not holding their breaks because he hit them too hard.
“It just felt like something wasn't there,” he said. “I wasn't finishing through my shots. Usually I'm a good putter; I hit all my irons solid.
“I have an aiming problem. I need to spend more time on the (driving) range.”
Greenup County junior Austin Blevins, of South Shore, and his partner, Ashland senior Thaddeus Stambaugh, had been talking about holes-in-one. Then on 11, Blevins pulled out a 5-iron and drained one, which he said hit the flag stick and dropped.
“I've gotten close a few times, about half a foot,” Blevins said.
Russell graduate Sam McGuire will continue his golf career at the University of Pikeville. Monday, his 3-over-par 75 won the Grades 11-12 division.
McGuire finished par-birdie-par over his last three holes. He wasn't exactly pleased, but at least he knows what he needs to do.
“My driver's not doing too good right now, my irons are off a little,” McGuire said. “... It's just a lack of practice. I've got a job right now; I'm mainly just skipping practice, hanging out with my friends, doing what I want to do instead of what I need to do.”
Boyd County junior-to-be Tori Sager won the girls grades 11-12 with a 15-over 87. “I wish I could've gotten in more of a groove with my short game,” she said. “My chips and putts weren't getting a good feel. My drives were fairly consistent.”
Other winners were: Luke Burrows (boys grades 4-6), Connor Calhoun (boys 3-under), Kate Hanni (girls 4-6), Brian Hunt (boys 7-8) and McKinzie Walters (girls 7-9).
EKJGA and Kentucky Golf Association president Tom Cooksey said Wednesday is the deadline for the EKJGA tournament July 12 at StoneCrest Golf Course in Prestonsburg.