Thursday was just a warm-up for Blaise Wilson.

Actually, make that a warm-up to a warm-up.

Hitting the links at 6 a.m., Wilson shot a second-round 68 on his way to a 17-stroke win in the Elks Club Junior County Golf Championship.

The early tee time? That was so Wilson could make it to Pelham for his pre-Alabama Open practice round in time.

“I didn’t think I’d play that good, having to wake up at five in the morning. But I played pretty good,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s next stop is the Alabama Open, which starts today at Pelham’s Ballantrae Golf Club. He’ll be joined there by fellow Cullman resident and two-time defending champion Jason Dillard.

The two warmed up for the tournament’s first round together with a mid-day practice round. Wilson will tee off this morning at 9:18 hoping to make a good impression.

“I’m going to try and beat Jason more than anything,” said Wilson with a laugh. “He’s playing great. I hope he wins it again.”

Wilson’s 68 on Thursday was five shots better than his nearest competitor — Caleb Neighbors, whose two-day 157 was good for second in the event’s 17-18-year-old division.

Over the last 10 years of the tournament, only one winner — James Michael Moyer in 1999 — didn’t go on to a college career. Last year’s winner, Good Hope’s Nathan Brown, begins his college career this fall at the University of Montevallo.

“A lot of the guys that have won it are good golfers, phenomenal high school golfers that went on to good schools,” said Wilson, who has already received an offer from Wallace State — where former champions Jesse Bolam, Walt Drake, Robbie Abt and Patrick Drake played. “So yeah, I’m proud to win, to be up there with them.”

This was the second consecutive year the junior county championship was decided by 17 strokes. Last year, Brown won by the same margin after shooting 63 and 68 over the two days.

In the 15-16 division, Colby Chamblee shot 83 for a two-day total of 161. He was three strokes ahead of Justin Neal, who shot 81.

Matthew Easterwood continued his strong play in the 13-14 division, shooting 77 for a winning score of 152. Jacob McCurry followed at 165.

Lee Mattox took first in the 11-12 division by five strokes over Sylas Elliot, and Noah Phillips beat out Luke Wilson by a single shot for the 10U title.

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