If Saturday is any indication, the Tigers better start clearing out some space in their trophy case.
St. X’s “Green” and “Gold” teams took the top two places in the 52nd annual Knights Travel Kentucky Invitational Tournament. The “Green” team, led by medalist Michael Sass, shot a tournament-record 287 (3-over-par) at Harmony Landing Country Club. Barely outdone, the “Gold” squad carded a collective 291.
“Just an unbelievable day really, everyone got on a roll,” St. X coach Dan Utley said. “Both teams had one guy pushing them, playing really well. You can’t ask for much more.”
The Tigers steamrolled to their 19th state title last October, winning by 27 strokes at Bowling Green Country Club. Saturday their two teams put on an impressive display against a stacked field, and in front of St. X alum, and current PGA Tour standout, Justin Thomas.
“They’re really good,” said Thomas, whose father Mike is the pro at Harmony Landing. “I got to go out and play some with them yesterday (Friday), and the guys that were on the ‘B’ team were still very impressive, making a lot of birdies. That’s good, I think that’s why they are so good, because you have to have guys that push each other.”
Union County, led by individual runner-up Rhett Cardwell, took third with a 293.
Sass and Cardwell each shot 3-under 68s in regulation, but Sass parred the second playoff hole to claim medalist honors.
Sass, who started the day on No. 3, got hot down the stretch, recording birdies on Nos. 17, 18 and 1 before finishing with a bogey on No. 2.
“It was just a steady round going until I kind of caught fire,” he said.
Added Utley: “Michael is just an incredible steady player. For him, it’s just a matter of giving himself chances. He got on a nice little run there, put together a few birdies in a row. It seems like Mike’s always teetering on having a great round, which is a good problem to have.”
Sass and Cardwell both parred the first playoff hole, No. 18, before Sass put his tee shot on the par-3 16th on the green, about 30 feet to the right of the hole. He coasted his second shot to within a foot and tapped in for par and the win.
“It means a great deal since it’s St. X’s tournament, and usually it’s a pretty strong field,” Sass said. “I didn’t play good the last two years. So as a senior I was excited to go out with a ‘W.’”
Cardwell, however, pulled his tee shot slightly to the left, landing just short of the bunker. From there he chipped onto the green, but missed a 5-foot par putt. It did little to diminish his round, though.
“I hit a lot of good shots,” Cardwell, a junior, said. “I didn’t hit many fairways, but I was making a lot of putts.”
Three others – Matt Liston of St. X “Green,” McCracken County’s Avery Edwards and Lyon County’s Cullan Brown – were one shot back of Sass and Cardwell. St. X “Gold” member Clay Amlung and Owensboro Catholic’s John Augenstein, the reigning individual state champion, were two shots back while Glasgow junior Chase Landrum, the state’s reigning Mr. Golf, headlined a group of six who fired even-par 71s.
“With the new venue (the tourney had previously been held at Nevel Meade Golf Course since 2000), I thought the golf course played pretty hard today,” Utley said. “So this effort in particular, to come in with a tournament record, is just phenomenal.”