Sports

Friend's battle inspires golfer

LOUISVILLE — Robby Shaw had seven birdies on his way to a 4-under par 68 in the first round of the 89th Kentucky Open at Audubon Country Club on Tuesday.

You would guess that Shaw would credit his irons and putter for his red number, which put him in a tie for third place behind Cory Kaufman (66) and 15-year-old Justin Thomas (67).

Instead, Shaw credited his red wristband, with ”J-Rock“ and ”relentless“ inscribed on it, for his terrific play.

Shaw wears the wristband to remember Jared Salvia, his college roommate and teammate at Western Kentucky, who died March 8 after battling cancer for two years.

Shaw was living in Orlando and playing the Hooters Tour winter series when he heard that Salvia had lost his fight with lymphoblastic lymphoma at age 23.

Shaw drove all night to get back to Kentucky and be with Salvia's parents at their home in Vine Grove.

After attending the funeral of his best friend, Shaw lost his zest for golf.

Over the last few months, however, he has regained his love for the game, but with a new perspective on life, thanks to Salvia.

”J-Rock was his nickname, and to see him battle like he did was unbelievable,“ Shaw said. ”He was exactly who I was. We lived the same life. Then that happened.

”That's all the drive in the world to me now. Golf isn't everything. I still love it, but I know what's important.“

Shaw, a St. Xavier graduate who won the 2001 state high school title, got his competitive itch back when he was selected to take part in The Golf Channel's The Big Break, which will air this fall. He and Amber Prange of Noblesville, Ind., are partners in the team format.

This Kentucky Open is Shaw's first competition in almost six months, except for trying to qualify for a Hooters Tour event in late June.

How his game holds up over the next two days, nobody knows. But he has some tough competition.

Besides Kaufman and Thomas, there's veteran pro Kelly Maxwell, who opened with a 68.

Trey Bowling, a senior at EKU, had a 69.

Reigning State Amateur champion Tyler Sharpe of Greensburg is in a group at 70 that includes 2005 Open winner Cale Barr, UK player Ben Fuqua and former State Am champ Buddy Bryant.

Former EKU golfer Phil Hendrickson, who won the State Am and Open last year, opened with a 71, along with former PGA Tour player Ted Schulz and UK golfers Joseph Barr and Alex Volpenhein.

Kaufman, 29, figures to be tough to catch, especially if his brand-new putter stays hot. ”Putting was the deal today,“ he said. ”I was rolling it pretty good. I made three putts that were probably 30 to 35 feet.“

Kaufman, who also is trying out for a part on The Big Break, has played well on the Tar Heel mini-tour in North Carolina this year, with three top-five finishes.

Thomas, a sophomore at St. X playing in his first Kentucky Open, would've tied for the lead but he bogeyed the last hole. ”Obviously you can't be upset with a 67,“ he said. ”If I keep hitting it like I am, I think I'll be good.“

Justin had a reliable caddy. Mike Thomas, his dad and the pro at Harmony Landing, was on his bag.

Schulz, who won the 1984 Kentucky Open, made the cut in the PGA Tour's Reno-Tahoe stop a few weeks ago.

He's trying to get his game in shape so he can take a swing at the Champions Tour when he turns 50 next year.

”I need to play some tournaments between now and 2010, get my feet wet again in competition, so when I get out there I'll be past the rusty stage.“

Kentucky Open scores

Tuesday’s first round

At Louisville

6,720-yard, par-72 Audubon C.C.

Cory Kaufman, Louisville........ 66

Justin Thomas, Goshen.......... 67

Kelly Maxwell, Louisville......... 68

Robby Shaw, Louisville.......... 68

Troy Hawkins, Elizabethtown.... 68

Trey Bowling, Manchester....... 69

Austin Meyer, Louisville......... 70

Ben Fuqua, Danville.............. 70

Brian Fister, Lexington.......... 70

Buddy Bryant, Lexington........ 70

Cale Barr, Versailles............. 70

Chad Stocker, Louisville......... 70

Clay Ballard, Winchester........ 70

Kent Bulle, Glasgow.............. 70

Matt Bowlin, Union............... 70

Taylor Wisniewski, Nicholasville 70

Tyler Sharpe, Greensburg....... 70

Zachary Wilson, Russell Springs 70

Alex Volpenhein, Edgewood...... 71

Bryan Conway, Frankfort........ 71

Jordan Blann, Bowling Green.... 71

Joseph Barr, Versailles.......... 71

Karsten Clements, Prospect.... 71

Kirk Schooley, Frankfort......... 71

Nathan White, Manchester...... 71

Patrick Vadden, Louisville....... 71

Philip Hendrickson, Danville..... 71

Robert Crockett, Louisville...... 71

Ted Schulz, Louisville............ 71

Andrew Heiser, London.......... 72

Andy Roberts, Owensboro....... 72

Bruce Oldendick, Pikeville....... 72

Cameron Carrico, Owensboro... 72

Chris Morris, Maysville.......... 72

Davis Boland, Louisville......... 72

Eddie Mudd, Louisville........... 72

Gary Bebelaar, Louisville........ 72

Joshua Rhodes, Paducah........ 72

Justin Moore, Somerset......... 72

Russ Johnson, Lagrange......... 72

Ryan Britt, Louisville............ 72

Shaun McConnell, Richmond.... 72

Shawn Tipton, Clay City......... 72

Thomas Reddick, Bardstown.... 72

Tom Campbell, Danville......... 72

Cliff Wilson, Louisville........... 73

Dan DePasquale, Louisville...... 73

Daniel Kmetz, Louisville......... 73

Daryl Fathauer, Louisville....... 73

Hunter Ford, Paducah............ 73

Jared Wolfe, Louisville........... 73

John Bachman, Louisville....... 73

Kevin Main, Borden.............. 73

Kyle Litter, Morehead............ 73

Lee Chaney, Morehead........... 73

Marshall Butler, Louisville....... 73

Matthew Martin, Winchester.... 73

Michael Woodson, Louisville.... 73

Steven Conley, Georgetown..... 73

Willis Ring, Whitesburg.......... 73

Andrew Stephens, Union......... 74

Austin Hansford, Taylor Mill..... 74

Bradley Ruch, Louisville......... 74

Brett Munson, Louisville......... 74

Casey Combs, Louisville........ 74

Charles Schaffer, Lexington..... 74

Charlie Cornette, Greenville..... 74

Dave Snyder, Somerset......... 74

Erik Davis, Smithfield............ 74

Jason Stilley, Paducah.......... 74

Jerry Price, Louisville........... 74

Jonathan Scalf, Georgetown..... 74

Keith Ohr, Louisville............. 74

Kyle Leach, Louisville............ 74

Kyle Ramey, Paducah........... 74

Logan Edelen, Bardstown........ 74

Nicholas Sweeney, Louisville.... 74

Paul McDougal, Bowling Green.. 74

Steven Clark, Lexington......... 74

Tyler Wilson, Lexington.......... 74

Aaron McDowell, Lexington...... 75

Allan Fugate, Louisville.......... 75

Brandon Berry, Lagrange........ 75

Danny Bishop, Lexington........ 75

Fred Stebbins, Prospect......... 75

Greg Basham, Louisville......... 75

Jeff Bradow, Louisville........... 75

Jesse Massie, Louisville......... 75

Joe Reverman, Louisville........ 75

John Rogers, Somerset......... 75

Mitchell Moore, Hopkinsville.... 75

Phillip Blythe, Louisville......... 75

Ryan McCann, Crestwood....... 75

Steve Cox, Hodgenville.......... 75

Ted Beckmann, Crestwood...... 75

Terrance Hyland, Louisville...... 75

William Ranson, London......... 75

Cory Cox, Hodgenville........... 76

Eric King, Ferguson.............. 76

Erich Moberly, Somerset........ 76

Grant Price, Paducah............ 76

Jack Conway, Louisville......... 76

Mark Krahe, Jr, Burlington...... 76

Nick Johnston, Louisville........ 76

Vince Hamilton, Louisville....... 76

Adam Gary, Bowling Green...... 77

Corey Welch, Richmond......... 77

Greg Meadors, Lexington........ 77

Joe Cantrell, Louisville.......... 77

Jonathan Hollan, Bonnyman..... 77

Jonathan Shaw, Tompkinsville.. 77

Josh Earnest, Lawrenceburg.... 77

Kelly Williams, Lexington....... 77

Matt Hermann, Goshen.......... 77

Ralph Landrum, Crestview Hills. 77

Rodney Chancey, Elizabethtown 77

Ron Frisch, Louisville............ 77

Andrew Flynn, Elizabethtown.... 78

Barry Bonifield, Louisville....... 78

Brian Zoeller, Louisville.......... 78

Carmello Benassi, Frankfort.... 78

Daniel Beckovich, Louisville..... 78

Grover Justice, Lexington....... 78

Jeff Howerton, Madisonville..... 78

John-Gordon Beckett, Nicholasville....... 78

Ken Postlewait, Louisville....... 78

Matt Gann, Pineville............. 78

Thomas Scheuerman, Prospect 78

Brandon Young, Elizabethtown.. 79

Brooks Herrick, Louisville....... 79

Eric Collins, Lexington........... 79

James Maxam, Winchester..... 79

Josh Crutcher, Richmond....... 79

Michael Janok, Louisville........ 79

Seth Blann, Bowling Green...... 79

Terry Jolly, Alexandria........... 79

Will Beard, Bowling Green....... 79

Billy Lewis, Louisville............ 80

Chad Burnett, Lexington......... 80

Eric Gilliland, Louisville.......... 80

Jerryal Ingram, Louisville....... 80

Moe Demling, Louisville......... 80

Rick Burrice, Louisville.......... 80

Chris Osborne, Bardstown....... 81

Clyde Hill, Fort Knox............. 81

Matt Love, Lexington............ 81

Robert Blakely III, Louisville..... 81

Scott Huff, Lexington............ 81

Zach Schrodt, Louisville......... 81

Dennis Thompson, Louisville.... 82

Adam Herald, Richmond......... 83

Andrew Lardner, Louisville...... 83

Chester Musselman, Louisville. 84

Steve Shafer, Louisville......... 84

Kevin Heitz, Louisville........... 87

Thomas Allen, Louisville......... 87

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