Although Sylas Elliott entered the final round of the Buck Shear Memorial Tournament trailing by a daunting five shots, he wasn’t thinking about the leaders.
At least, not early on.
Slowly but surely, though, Elliott began to creep up the leaderboard, eventually finding himself tied for first with Billy Conner following a 5-under round of 67.
“I was a little surprised my score was good enough,” Elliott said. “I just wanted to go out and played a solid round. Luckily, my opponents gave a few shots back to me.”
Elliott certainly didn’t waste them, either, as he birdied the first playoff hole to win the 31st annual commemorative golf tournament.
The Cullman High student’s 67 was low round of the day, bringing his two-day total to a 137. Connor (71,137) took second place, while first-round leader and defending-champion Patrick Drake (73, 138) finished third. Eli Marty (69, 140), Todd Lindsey (71, 142), Steve Smith (74,145) and Tommy Byrd (76, 148) rounded out the tournament’s “Championship A” flight.
“I feel honored to have won this event,” Elliott said. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens and tried to play smart. My putting was really good, though. I putted well on Sunday.”
The stage was set for Elliott to make the shots down the stretch. During the playoff, both he and Conner found the fairway with their drives. From there, Conner hit his approach to 10 feet, putting the pressure squarely back on Elliott’s shoulders. Elliott, however, was up to the challenge, knocking his approach inside Conner’s to about seven feet.
After Conner burned the edge on his birdie putt, Elliott calmly knocked his in, ending the tournament and securing him the tournament and the noticeably heavy trophy.
“I was pretty excited,” he said of making the putt. “It didn’t really hit me until later, though. For me to win this tournament against all these excellent players is really great to me.”
For Drake, however, he’ll look back at an opportunity lost to win his third Buck Shear title in the past four events.
“I just didn’t have my best game,” Drake said. “I shot even through the first nine but lost a little concentration late.”
The director of golf and club professional at TP Country Club trailed by five shots with five holes to play. He missed making the playoff by one shot.
“I hit a good approach into 18 and had about 20 feet left for an eagle,” Drake said. “I just left it a little short.”
Despite not being able to secure the victory, Drake was thrilled for Elliott, a young man he’s played numerous rounds with throughout the year.
“I was rooting for Sylas,” Drake said. “He was playing great golf and handled himself extremely well down the stretch. It was great to see. Hopefully this will propel him to bigger and better things.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.