— With darkness quickly approaching, St. Xavier’s golf team and its No. 1 player, Stephen Stallings, came out the winners in the Best of the Bluegrass high school tournament Saturday at the Cardinal Club.
Stallings, who won the state individual title last fall, St. X teammate Cooper Musselman, also a senior, and Ballard junior Spencer Reed tied for medalist honors with 3-under-par 69s.
St. X avenged its playoff loss to West Jessamine in the Kentucky Invitational last month at the Nevel Meade Golf Course in Louisville.
The Tigers, coached by Dan Utley, compiled a four-man total of 283 to easy outshoot West Jessamine, which finished second at 302. St. X also got a 72 from Michael Sass and a 73 from Brendon Doyle.
Stallings, Musselman and Reed each played two playoff holes, but all three made pars on the 18th and 10th holes, which were used for the playoff.
“We then had a scorecard playoff,” Stallings said. “We normally have a playoff, but after two holes it was getting dark. So we went to our back nine scores first.”
Reed had a 35 to 34s for Stallings and Musselman, and that placed Reed in third place.
“Then we used our scores on the last six holes,” Stallings said.
That’s where Stallings had the advantage.
“I played pretty well,” Stallings said. “I hit a 9-iron within five feet of the hole on 13 and made birdie there. That got me going. I played the last six holes in 2-under par. If I’m able to win the state (individual) title again, that would be fine, but the biggest thing is to win the team title.”
Musselman, who has committed to play golf for the University of Kentucky next fall, as will Stallings, birdied the 17th hole and needed only a par on 18 to win the title outright.
“I hit my best drive of the day on 18, but it went into a bunker,” Musselman said. “I had a chance for par but missed the putt (from 10 feet).”
Musselman was happy to see his team beat West Jessamine.
“We got better than even with them today,” he said. “The team win is the most important thing.”
Reed also had a chance to win in regulation.
“I missed a 10-foot putt on 18,” he said. “I had four birdies, the longest being a 20-footer on 15. I was disappointed when I found out I could have won if I had made that putt on 18, but I played well and I’m happy with my score.”
Sass and Travis Rose of West Jessamine were the early leaders with 72s, but as Musselman said later, “We were the only three who broke par” out of 18 teams and 94 players in the tourney.
Doyle of St. X and Ryan Daniels of North Hardin in Indiana both shot 73s.
Reed led Ballard’s team to third place at 305, with Trinity following at 309. Christian Academy, the host school, came in fifth at 314.