Jacob Beverly had played Eagle Trace Golf Course before.
Monday was the Shelby Valley sophomore's sixth time and one of his more successful. His five-over-par 77 was good enough for medalist honors at the Walmart Kentucky Professional Golf Association Junior Tour stop.
Besides having the overall low score, Beverly won the boys 15-16 division, shot a two-under-par 34 on the front nine and dropped four birdies.
“My putting, I just made everything I looked at,” Beverly said. “No. 3, I chipped in from about 10 yards.
Pikeville sophomore Cameron Alley was second with a 79, and Trey Roseberry, of Butler, was third with an 80.
“I really liked my irons (yesterday),” Alley said. “Putting has improved a lot, too.”
You would have needed very, very dark sunglasses to miss Hunter Reed. The Woodford County senior won the boys 17-18 division with a nine-over 81, and he was easy to spot because of his turquoise shirt and pants with pink and white flamingoes and palm trees.
“They're definitely my lucky pants,” Reed said. “Everybody on my team calls me ‘Daly’ because this is what (professional) John Day wears. I have close to his anger issues, but I wouldn't walk off the course.”
Reed was possibly pleased after his one-under-par after four holes, part of his three-over 39 after nine. The back nine was a struggle — a 42.
“It's decent,” Reed said of his round. “I took a triple bogey on 18 to ruin a 78. I putted practically the worst I have (all summer); I had four three-putts … I couldn't make a birdie.”
Brad Smith of Stanton was second with an 87.
Ashland alumnus Thomas Hall was the only Boys Open player yesterday. He's also signed up for a tournament today and Wednesday at Bardstown Country Club, which he decided to enter because he wasn't “really doing anything else this summer.”
“I like playing golf, I like playing competitive golf,” Hall said.
Two weeks ago, however, Hall couldn't say that. He didn't play a lot in April and May.
“I played really bad at state (high school) last year,” he said. “I just wasn't really into golf at all until a couple weeks ago.”
Hall said a family trip to Hilton Head, S.C. and watching the U.S. Open on TV restored his love for the game.
“It made me miss competitive golf,” he said.
Hall's round Monday — a 16-over-par 88. The 387-yard, par-4 No. 6, however, was, to put it charitably, a challenge – Hall shot a 10-over 14.
“I hit five straight balls out of bounds,” Hall said. “It's not really that big of a deal. It happens. It's never happened to me before; I'll get over it.”
There were some highlights yesterday: Two birdies on the 512-yard par-5 No. 9 hole and the 372-yard par-4 No. 10, which included the 35-foot putt he drained and took him to 2-over-par at the turn.
“Nine, I laid up to about 50 yards and chipped it up on the green and made about a 15-footer,” Hall said. “(On 10), I knocked an approach shot to probably 30, 35 feet and made that. I think (the putt) broke a couple feet to the left.”
Another Tomcat, sophomore Harrison Hall, shot an 8-over-par 80. Ashland golf coach Mitch Hall, wasn't sure whether he was allowed to talk about the 2014 high school season (he didn't), but he said Harrison's game has steadily improved.
“His tee shots have gotten better; he's not as errant,” Mitch Hall said of Harrison's game. “His short game, he's not wasting shots around the green.”
Two golfers — Lawrence County eighth-grader Evan Goble (Boys 13-14) and Jenkins junior Alexis Stambaugh (Girls 16-18) won their first events this summer. Goble's five-over 78 was the second best round yesterday, and Stambaugh's 12-over 84 was two shots better than Rowan County junior Taylor Kendrick's 86.
Goble said his score was the best since a 74 he fired at his home layout, Eagle Trace Golf Course in Louisa, last September. He said Eagle Trace's 6,179-yard par-72 with its narrow fairways was sort of familiar.
“Our home course is really tight, so it reminded me of my home course,” Goble said.
Stambaugh, of McRoberts in Letcher County, wasn't sure she would beat Kendrick. Her lone birdie, on the 320-yard, par-4 helped: a nearly 230-yard drive, a pitching wedge to set up the six-foot putt.
“My putting was pretty good,” Stambaugh said. “(The put) had a break left.”
Other division winners included: Madison Smith of Union (Girls 13-15), Kyler Barton of Clearfield (Boys 11-12), Kate Hanni of Ashland (Girls 12-under) and Braydon DeHart of Olive Hill (Boys 6-under).
This year is also the first summer since the Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association became part of the state PGA Junior Tour earlier this year. Steve McMillen, executive director of Kentucky Golf House, the Louisville organization that oversees all state adult and youth events, said local golfers now have more event choices.
“What we're seeing is, a lot of the Eastern Kentucky kids are starting to drive,” McMillen said. “(Monday, we had) an event down in Bowling Green. We (had) 110 kids, and I'm gonna say at least 15 or 20 kids are all Eastern Kentucky that would have played (EKGJA) last year.”
The Bowling Green tournament wasn't supposed to tee off. Earlier inclement weather forced rescheduling to Monday. Still, McMillen said Bowling Green Country Club being the site of the state tournament is another reason local golfers choose to travel.
Yesterday, 40 of the 44 who signed up to play at Eagle Trace showed up. That's about 20 fewer than the average 60 who participated in past EKJGA tournaments, but McMillen isn't worried.
“We've got to take a look at that, and we've got to make sure that we still offer events in Eastern Kentucky, but we've got to find that balance,” McMillen said. “We want the kids playing golf, but we want it to be convenient for them.”