GOSHEN, Ky. — East Knox junior Drew Salyers went from not even knowing if he would get to play in the qualifier, to rising the leaderboards and eventually winning the Justin Thomas Junior Championship this past weekend in Goshen, Ky.
Heading into the event, Salyers did not have enough status to enter the tournament, so he put his name up for the qualifying round, but he was a 12th alternate for the qualifier. The stars aligned and he got called on April 13, saying he was eligible to play in the qualifier, set for April 17. He quickly packed up and headed to Kentucky.
In the qualifying round, the Bulldog turned in a one-under 70 to medal and punch his ticket to the three-day weekend tournament.
On Friday, Salyers started off a little rocky with back-to-back bogeys to start his round, but he quickly rebounded with a birdie on No. 3. He went on to rattle off four more birdies to end the day at a three-under 68. He sat third after the first day behind scores at six-under and four-under. Saturday’s round was canceled after several weather delays, shortening the tournament to two days.
Heading into Sunday, Salyers had some ground to make up. He bogeyed No. 4 but bounced back with a birdie on the ninth hole and rose to second after the front-nine, before the Bulldog pounded out a stellar back-nine. He birdied No. 11, before sinking an eagle on the following hole to take a one-stroke lead, and he never looked back. Salyers birdied No. 14 and No. 17 and won by four strokes.
After the two rounds, Salyers posted a score of 134 (68-66), while Luke Sample from New York, N.Y. turned in a 138 (65-73) to finish second. Jay Nimmo (Benton, Ky.) earned third at 139 (70-69). For winning, Salyers earned a trophy, a golf bag, a towel and a custom headcover and he is now fully exempt for American Junior Golf Association tournaments in the future.