BANGS — He swung his way through 18 holes of golf with a machine-like precision. East Knox High School’s Drew Salyers, displaying a cool confidence that few people (let alone an 18-year-old) could muster, put a new mark in the record book. Salyers led the Bulldogs to victory, shooting a course-record 62 from the white tees, in Tuesday’s Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference tournament at Chapel Hill Golf Club in Bangs.
“It feels great,” Salyers said. “The course was in great condition and it played really well. I had a really good day. It feels great to be rewarded.”
Salyers birdied the second, sixth and 14th holes — all par fives. One of his shots hit a tree branch on the par-four 15th, and the carom put him off the green by about 15 feet. Despite that, he was able to hit what turned out to be a a par-saving chip shot onto the green. Salyers didn’t have a bogey throughout the round.
The rest was simple for the senior, who will be hitting golf balls at Indiana University next fall.
“I never really put myself in a position where I had a difficult shot,” Salyers said. “I just look at the ball and swing. I’m not thinking about it over the ball. I just decide where I’m going to hit it, I line up and I swing. The secret is, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of work.”
All anyone could do was watch and admire Salyers’ work.
“It was amazing to watch,” said East Knox Coach Alan Keesee. “It was pretty incredible. I keep kidding him. I tell him, ‘You play like a video game,’ I’ve never been fortunate enough to be around anything like it. He just really has a unique composure that, if something in his world goes bad, he just grinds it out and finds a way to handle the situation. He usually takes care of it with an incredible shot.”
In a match on Monday, Salyers knocked down a 66, despite a couple of hang-ups.
“He was under a tree, by a root (on Monday),” Keesee said. “He hit a real nice shot to get on the green. Nothing really seems to bother him when he plays. He’s one of the steadiest, coolest and composed athletes I’ve ever seen.”
The Bulldogs shot 386 as a team, with freshman Nathan Streby shooting an 85 — the second-best individual score of the day. Teammate Nate Friel — a senior — had the best part of his day on the front nine, where he scored a 42 to finish the day at 90. That was the fourth-lowest total on the day. Bryan Hockenberry (99) and Ryan Morton (107) rounded out the field for East Knox.
“We definitely played well,” Salyers said. “I also feel like we’re going to keep on improving, which is great. The year ahead looks bright.”
The Centerburg Trojans posted a 368, finishing second as a team. Dalton Hall led the Trojans with an 86, which was the third-lowest individual total of the day. Hall and Streby both shot a 42 on the back nine. Hall was followed by Centerburg teammates Reece Meyers (93), Levi Houck (94), Dallas Cornett (95), Mick Mead (103) and Reed Compton (107).
Highland, led by Emerson Grassbaugh (92), placed third with a 386. Teammate Gunner Oakley was close behind with a 94 for the day. Also for Highland were Owen Mott (99), Drew Santo (101), Branton Howard (102) and Bryce Rinehart (102).
Cardington was fourth at 411, followed by Mount Gilead at 415. Mount Gilead was notably missing Mallory Graham, who was at Muirfield in Columbus, participating in an Ohio women’s tournament.
The Fredericktown Freddies were led by Alex Spalding (111), Makayla Frazier (115), Kodie Spearman (118), Tristan Warner (145) and Emma Reed (147). The Freddies completed the day with a team score of 489. Danville and Northmor each had fewer than the minimum number of players to register a team score. Danville had two finishers — Payton Horn (125) and Carson Vernon (141).