BOWLING GREEN — An extra day was worth the wait.
St. Xavier junior Justin Thomas holed a 45-foot chip shot on the second hole of sudden death to edge Lexington Christian's Hunter Stewart for medalist honors in the Leachman/KHSAA Boys' State Golf Tournament on Thursday.
Both players finished the regulation 36 holes at 2-under-par 142 Wednesday on the Bowling Green Country Club course. Stewart, trailing by four strokes with six holes to play, picked up those strokes over two holes.
Thomas led St. X to a 1-stroke team victory over LCA. A weather delay Tuesday and darkness Wednesday pushed the individual playoff to Thursday morning at 7:15 local time (8:15 Eastern).
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Neither player disappointed the 60 or so onlookers.
Beginning on No. 18, a 534-yard par 5, both players reached the green in 3. Thomas had a 6-foot putt, Stewart a 45-footer.
Stewart came up as cool as the dew-soaked green.
"There was a leaf, and I was trying to roll it over the top of the leaf," Stewart said. "I actually hit the leaf, and I was like, 'Oh, I probably won't make it now.' Then it snaked in the side, so I got kind of a fortunate break there.
"I hit a great putt. But I knew he was going to make it, so I didn't have much of a choice."
After Thomas matched Stewart's birdie, the players bumped fists and headed to No. 1, a 435-yard par 4.
Said Thomas: "I told him we didn't wake up at 5:45 to just come out and play one hole."
Both tee shots on No. 1 missed the fairway, Stewart to the right and Thomas to the left.
Stewart then hit into a bunker in front of the green.
Thomas, with just enough room to avoid a nearby tree, pushed his second shot right of the bunker, just off the green. He was not pleased, but that was about to change.
"It was weird," he said he thought as he prepared to swing a 56-degree wedge. "It was just like that chip I made (Wednesday) on 4. Right before I hit it, I was like 'I made a chip exactly like this yesterday, so I don't know why I can't do it again.' And I made it."
Stewart, who tied for 43rd place as a sophomore, didn't go down easily. The backspin on his bunker shot left the ball about 3 feet from the hole. As he raked the trap, he said, "that would have made 'Top 10 Plays' if we'd gone back-to-back."
"I was trying to be aggressive with it," he said. "I knew it was going to spin a little bit because I was going to take it in high, but I guess it didn't spin enough. He hit a great shot. ... Not much I can do.
"I'm not really disappointed because I played two pretty good holes. He's a great player. He deserves it."
St. X now has 12 individual state championships from 11 players, as well as back-to-back sweeps of team and individual titles.
David Payne, who tied for 11th place this week, won in a playoff last year. Thomas placed third last year and tied for 13th as a freshman.
Over the summer, Thomas became the third-youngest player ever to make the cut at a PGA event, in the Wyndham Championship at Greensboro, N.C.
"It means a lot," the 16-year-old said of Thursday's win, "because although I've had success other places, I've never won State. I had a chance freshman year and had a rough back nine."
Seeing that Payne was within listening distance, Thomas added: "Had a chance last year until my teammate stole it. I'm just kidding!
"It's neat, but I honestly would not have cared if I didn't win this (individual title) and won the team because, after last year, that's the coolest feeling in the world."
Thursday's playoff was the eighth in tournament history and third in a row. It is the second playoff to go past one hole, the other coming in 2007 when Marshall County's Travis Thompson prevailed on the third hole. There also has been one co-championship, in 1978, between Rick Barger of Moore and a Lone Oak fellow by the name of Kenny Perry.