BELPRE - An impressive start on his back nine gave Alex Easthom enough breathing room to take medalist honors at Friday's Mid-Ohio Valley Junior Golf Association stop at Oxbow Golf and Country Club.
Easthom, who will be entering his freshman year at Ravenswood High School, birdied three of his first four holes after the turn and carded a 4-over par 75. At one juncture, he was 1-over par for his round but back-to-back drives on the 16th and 17th hole put him in a predicament.
"On those birdie putts, I was thinking you have to get your putts to the hole to make them," Easthom said.
KERRY PATRICK The Marietta Times
Andrew Simms, who will be a senior at Warren High School, watches as his par putt falls in the hole during Friday’s Mid-Ohio Valley Junior Golf Association event at Oxbow Golf and Country Club. Simms placed fifth in the 16-18 age group after shooting an 86.
Hitting a blind approach shot on No. 16, Easthom managed to escape with a par. On the 17th hole, his drive cleared the line of trees on the right side and he found his ball in play on the 18th fairway. Attempting to play it safe, his second shot landed in the woods and he was assessed a penalty shot.
Now laying three, Easthom again had a host of trees blocking his view to the green. And again he landed the the shot on the green. Two putts later gave him a double bogey.
"Same thing I did at the last few tournaments where I've been flirting with red numbers, I get too relaxed," said Easthom, who captured first place in an MOVJGA event for the second time to go with three runner-up showings.
Mid-Ohio Valley Junior Golf Association
At Oxbow Golf and Country Club
12-under (9 holes)
Zach Redmon 43
Blake Snyder 55
Mace Busch 59
Hunter Cowan 64
Chance Shears 43-42-85
Logan Clegg 42-45-87
Caleb Scharff 40-49-89
Max Hughes 46-52-98
Heath Hill 46-54-100
Jordan Mader 50-55-105
Zach Mallett 53-54-107
Cody Greathouse 52-55-107
Abby Eichmiller 57-64-121
Brianna Hart 62-68-130
Alex Easthom 38-37-75
Cameron Bosner 39-38-77
Garrett Bertram 37-41-78
Noah Smith 41-40-81
Andrew Simms 41-45-86
Dylan Cress 41-46-87
Mitchell Eddleblute 42-47-89
Trevor Gorrell 48-45-93
Alex Branham 45-51-96
Turner Schilling 48-52-100
Isaac Trader 49-51-100
Next MOVJGA meet: 8:30 p.m. at Mingo Bottom Golf Course in Elizabeth, Wednesday
Fortunately for Easthom, only a total of three golfers broke 80, including Cameron Bosner (77) and Garrett Bertram (78). The 16-year-old Bosner, who will be a junior at Waterford High School, recorded his only birdie on the backside. He avoided any major damage after producing 10 pars and seven bogeys.
"I had a few bad holes and a couple of bad shots, but my chipping was working well out there today," Bosner said.
"My first three holes I chipped next to the holes to save par, and that really got it going."
Bertram, who will be a senior at Marietta High School, kept the heat on Easthom on the front nine. After opening with consecutive bogeys, Bertram played the next six holes at 2-under par and owned a one-stroke lead with nine holes remaining. Eastham kept pace thanks to an eagle on the fifth hole then put the putter to good use on the backside.
"I was hitting my iron shots well on the front nine - my putting was on, but wasn't too good on the back nine," Bertram said. "I was hitting everything smooth. Last week, I was hitting a snap-hook and just never snap-hooked one today until the back nine. That's when it came back on two or three holes.
"On those last nine holes, Alex was hitting everything well. His putting was amazing. His birdie putts - he didn't have a gimme. They were 8 to 15 feet and he made almost all of them."
Earning medalist honors for the first time in the 13-15 age division was Chance Shears, who will be a freshman at Parkersburg South High School. The 14-year-old golfer carded an 85, which was two strokes better than runner-up Logan Clegg.
Two pars in his final three holes secured the win for Shears, who will be playing his home course at Mingo Bottom Golf Course in Elizabeth for the MOVJGA's next stop on Wednesday.
"Mingo Bottom is like 15 minutes from my house," Shears said. "The fairways are in good shape. The whole course is in good shape."
In the 12-under age division, Zach Redmon shot 43 in nine holes and won by 12 strokes over runner-up Blake Snyder.