Since becoming a member at Bellefonte Country Club this season, Ashland’s Evan Cox has played as much golf there as he can fit into his schedule.
Rain shortened his latest round Monday, but The Independent’s reigning area high school Player of the Year still came away with another award.
His nine-hole score of 1-under par 34 took top honors in the Boys Grade 11-12 division of the Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association Walmart Tour event.
After overcast but dry conditions during the morning, a horn sounded at 12:35 p.m. to pull golfers off the course as water began to pool on greens. The rain stopped briefly, but with another thunderstorm heading into the area, EKJGA executive director Tom Cooksey suspended play and scores were based on nine-hole totals.
Cox, who will be a senior at Ashland Blazer, collected three birdies on the back nine. He won the boys’ oldest age group by three shots over Nick Blankenship (Ashland), Sam McGuire (Russell) and Ryan Gillum (Grayson).
Cox started with a birdie on par-5 No. 10, thanks to his strong 6-iron shot to set up a two-putt from 10 feet. On No. 18, he hit a sand wedge to within 5 feet, then rolled in the birdie putt.
“My putting was on, and I was hitting my tee shots well,” Cox said.
That’s just the kind of performance he had in mind. After shooting 1-over par 72 to win a PGA Junior Tour at the University Club of Kentucky on July 8, Cox was disappointed with his next two tournament showings.
“It feels good to come back and play better,” he said. “It seems like everything is going to fall into place. Another high school season is coming up, and I’m excited to get started.”
Cox earned All-State honors last year while winning medalist honors at the 12th Region Tournament and leading the Tomcats to a third consecutive regional championship.
Looking around at Monday’s scene, Cox expressed thanks for how much the EKJGA has contributed to the development of area golfers.
“I really appreciate what Mr. Cooksey has done and I know everybody else does, too,” Cox said. “Getting kids started early with golf in these tournaments, it’s crucial in them starting to love the game and working to get better.”
Ian Cremeans of Greenup shot 38 to win the Boys Grade 9-10 division. He finished two shots ahead of Ashland’s Logan Jones and Sandy Hook’s Hunter Holbrook.
“I’m happy with my round,” said Cremeans, who is heading into his junior year at Greenup County. “I was hitting every green, but missed a lot of birdie putts.”
It’s the second title at Bellefonte this month for Cremeans, who shot 76 to win his age group in the Tri-State Junior Golf Tour. He ranks high on the point list in both tours.
“It’s been a good summer,” Cremeans said.
Monday’s tournament had 54 players. McKinzie Walters of Rush posted a 44 to win the Girls Grade 7-9 division. Jessica Ison’s 49 led the older group.
The EKJGA Walmart Tour’s 2013 schedule wraps up next week with two stops — Monday at Eagle Trace Golf Course in Morehead, and Wednesday at Mt. Sterling Golf Club.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.