By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Cullman High’s Sylas Elliott is about as familiar with the Cullman Golf Course as any golfer can be.
Having spent countless hours there over the past few years, the Bearcat senior always seems to find himself contending in any tournament the course holds.
Just two weeks ago, he stormed from five back to win the Buck Shear Memorial Tournament. On Thursday, he entered the final day of the Elks Junior County Championship with a three-shot lead over Cold Springs’ Layne Rice.
And, following a solid round of 68, he went ahead and claimed that one, too.
“I grew up on this course,” Elliott said. “I came out here in sixth and seventh grade and stayed from seven in the morning until seven in the evening. All that practice is paying off. It’s a fun course for me to play.”
Elliott’s two-day, 9-under total of 135 netted him yet another trophy, as the Cullman No. 1 took home first-place in the 17- to 18-year-old division of the Elks event.
Elliott’s teammate, Lee Mattox (143), vaulted up the leaderboard into second following a tournament-best round of 66, eclipsing Rice (77) by a single shot. Jacob McCurry finished third with a 144.
Despite holding a comfortable cushion over his competition, Elliott maintained his goal entering play Thursday wasn’t necessarily to build his lead.
“I really wasn’t worried about making it bigger or winning by a super big amount,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there, hang around par and throw in some birdies.”
The Black and Gold golfer did one better, however, birdieing three of his first six holes to storm out of the gate and never look back. He made just one bogey in his final round.
As he did when hoisted the trophy at the Buck Shear, Elliott attributed his flat stick as the secret behind his success.
“My putting was really good again,” he said. “Coming in, I just wanted to make sure I two-putted every hole and make a few here and there. I feel like I’m playing some of my best golf heading into my senior year.”
Mattox played one of the better rounds Cullman Golf Course has seen in quite some time, at one point birdieing four consecutive holes on the front nine to surge ahead of Rice for a runner-up finish. Rice played a steady round but was forced to settle for fourth following a double bogey on the par-3 13th.
The Elks Junior County Championship has become a mainstay in Cullman over the years, and if Shad Adams has anything to with it, it’ll remain that way well into the future.
“As long as I’m able to, I’ll be the Elks representative for this tournament,” he said. “I know the other members are behind us. This is a big tournament we want to do each year.
“For us, it’s real important to work with Ches (Harris) and the Cullman Golf Course to give these kids a good tournament to play in each and every year.”
For Elliott, his next stop will be the Alabama Junior Golf Association’s Open Championship at TP Country Club on Aug. 13-14, a tournament Elliott has won two of the last three years.
He’d love nothing more than to add a third to his resume.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Elliott said. “I really like that course. I hope I can win it.”
Elsewhere in the tournament, Connor Stevens (151) took home top honors in the 15- to 16-year-old division, beating runner-up finisher Luke Wilson (161) by 10 shots.
Holder Atchison (117) edged Curt Wilson (120) in the 11- to 12-year-old grouping.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at email@example.com.