MOREHEAD East Carter’s Matthew Tomolonis did not realize the impact of his final shot when the golf ball left the putter head on Monday afternoon.
He was left with a tricky downhill putt to save par on No. 18. The 10-footer eventually found its mark after circling around the lip of the cup before falling in. The finishing stroke earned him a 73 and the boys Region 12 championship at Eagle Trace Golf Course in Morehead. It also solidified his spot at the state tournament next week in Bowling Green.
Tomolonis felt something important had happened after the jubilant reaction from the large gallery. He encountered a group of excited Raiders as he walked off the green.
“I didn’t think it was going in at first, then it fell,” Tomolonis said. “Then my teammates came out and about tackled me. They told me after they started celebrating.”
Tomolonis had his appendix removed and had missed most of the season. He attributed the moment to the work he has put in to get back on the course. The region tournament was only his fifth event of the year.
“I played well last weekend,” Tomolonis said. “I thought if I played as well as I did last weekend, I would have made state. I played better today.”
East Carter assistant coach and proud father, Ryan, said Tomolonis’ putting kept the momentum going throughout the round.
“He rolled in some great putts,” Ryan Tomolonis said. “He left himself a few 3 to 5-footers for par. He was hitting greens in regulation, but a few got away from him and he drained the putts. He built that confidence and down the stretch he hung on. With the exception of the last hole, he was stress free coming in.”
Matthew has spent every day on the links and on the range since his return, according to his father. He produced solid results last week at the EKC championship and shot a 77 on Saturday at Grayson Lake.
“He had a pretty good practice on Sunday, and he made a long putt for par on the first hole (on Monday),” Ryan Tomolonis said. “Then he started rolling. It was fun to watch.”
The par save helped him preserve a one-shot advantage over Greenup County’s Dylan Stultz. The junior felt he missed some opportunities on the course that played more difficult as windy conditions developed midway through round.
“The course was really hard today,” Stultz said. “As I watched (Tomolonis’ putt) go in, it didn’t really bother me. I have next year. I just have to come back stronger.”
“I three-putted the last hole and that was a bummer,” he added. “I definitely could have hit the ball better and putted a lot better.”
Stultz felt his shot on No. 13 was the highlight of his day. He found the right part of the green.
“It’s a par 3 over the water,” Stultz said. “The wind was blowing dead left. It felt like a 25-30 mph wind. I threw it over the left side of the green and it came all the way back.”
Stultz will be returning to the state tournament for the second straight season after winning the spot in a playoff last year. Musketeers golf coach Brad Stultz said the experience Dylan has gained will be an asset next week.
“The course was rough today,” Brad Stultz said. “It was very windy, hard and fast. I thought Dylan played well. Other than the three-putt on 18, he played really good. He has played varsity golf since he was in the seventh grade. He kept getting better and better. Bowling Green is one of those courses that it helps if you’ve been there before. It’s a hard course but (last season) will help him a lot. He has matured a lot in the last year and that will help him, too.”
The top seven individual finishers not on the team champion advanced to the state tournament. Lewis County’s Logan Liles was the odd man out of last year’s region playoffs. It has motivated his efforts to get back to Bowling Green this season. He finished in third place with a 75.
“Coming back from last year, I normally play good here so being comfortable helped,” Liles said. “With the conditions the way they were and being that one guy that wasn’t able to go (to the state tournament) last year, I have put a lot of work into my game and staying focused. It helped me.”
Liles has played at Eagle Trace several times. He said the key to recording a good score is hitting the tree-lined fairways. He turned to the flatstick to produce another low round.
“There are hazards and out of bounds on every hole,” Liles said. “You to put yourself in the fairway and get clean looks at the green.
“I couldn’t get it going off the tee today. I hit some errant drives, but I thought I made putts when I needed to. I had a couple of par saves that kept things going.”
Russell’s Gunner Cassity (76), Montgomery County’s Logan McCormick (76), Ashland’s Connor Calhoun (77) and Fleming County’s Logan Hughes (77) all shot their way to secure a state tournament spot.
Cassity played in the same group as Liles. The foursome included West Carter’s Tyson Webb and East Carter’s Titus McGlone. The talented group increased Cassity’s level of play.
“I bogeyed the last two holes, otherwise I thought it was a pretty good round,” Cassity said. “I like playing with them. It keeps my head straight. They are good guys to play with.”
Calhoun will be making his third trip to Bowling Green. He qualified last year and went as a seventh-grader after Ashland earned a team title. He said he didn’t strike the ball well but eagled both par 5s. He chipped on No. 12 and sank a putt at No. 9, his finishing hole.
Calhoun started his day on the tenth tee and saved his best stroke for last. It allowed him to punch his ticket to the state tournament.
“I just didn’t the ball well,” Calhoun said. “I just saved myself with putting. The last hole was the best one. I didn’t know at the time I needed it to qualify.”
Mason County collectively recorded a 315 to take the team title. The Royals had three players tally three rounds in the 70s and finished seven strokes ahead of Montgomery County.
Mason County coach Chad Mefford was pleased to see his team hoist a region championship trophy for the first time since 2015.
“The course played really tough today,” Mefford said. “Scoring 315 today is pretty solid. I knew it was going to pretty good and probably hard to beat. Evan (Schumaker) didn’t have his best day but we have been picking each other up all year. Our five-man attack did a nice job today to hang in there. … Finally, it was a relief to punch our ticket as a team.”
East Carter was third in team standings with 330. Fleming County followed with 339. Russell posted a 349 for fifth place.
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Boys Region 12 Tournament
(Top four individuals count towards team score)
1. Mason County (315) — Mason Butler 77, Logan Shephard 76, Evan Schumacher 91, Kaden Grooms 77, Zack Ring 85.
2. Montgomery County (322) — Logan McCormick 76, Chandler McCoy, 78, Meier Patrick 89, Alex NeSmith 85, Jarrett Stidam 83.
3. East Carter (330) — Titus McGlone 80, Price Harris 83, Cody Fouts 95, Matthew Tomolonis 73, Evan Napier 94.
4. Fleming County (339) — Logan Hughes 77, Seth Hickerson 81, Hunter High 90, Adam Hargett 91, Calviin DeHart 93.
5. Russell (349) — Gunner Cassity 76, Max Waddell 85, Brody Kilburn 92, C.J. Bartram 96, Kolton Kirk 101.
6. Ashland (356) — Connor Calhoun 77, Parker Miller 86, Caleb Campbell 92, Isaac Campbell 101, Trey Gardner 119.
7. Boyd County (367) — Clayton Ison 78, Jacob Baker 93, Alex Deborde 90, Tyler Sisler 106, Rheyce Deboard. 117.
8. Elliott County (375) — Aaron Adams 84, Cameron Adams 92, Gatlin Griffith, 100 Eli Griffith 99, Gavin Whitt 116.
9. West Carter (380) — Tyson Webb 84, Trevor Callahan 88, Braydon DeHart 104, Nathan Webb 104, Xavier Rose 108.
10. Lewis County (418) — Logan Liles 75, Avery Sartin 85, Nathaniel Sweeney 108, Tristan Gilbert 150.
11. Rowan County (421) — Christian Parker 89, Blake Mullen 108, Conner Cristie 111, Nick Butler 136, Calen Caskey. 113.
No team score
Fairview — Jacob Claar 101.
Greenup County — Dylan Stultz 74, Jadon Gordon 82, Boone Gibson 85.
Lawrence County — J.D. Montgomery 90.
Morgan County — Braydon Mays 103, Grayson Hampton 108.