Birdie barrage at start of round carries Hannibal’s Thomas to top of Little People’s leaderboard


QUINCY — Fresh off a Missouri Class 4 state championship, what more is there for Quinn Thomas to accomplish in 2024?

A Pepsi Little People’s Golf Championships title would be a welcomed addition to the trophy case.

The Hannibal High School graduate leads the boys 16-17 division by one shot over Andrew Kuykendall, of Charleston, Ill., after posting a 3-under 69 in Tuesday’s first round at Spring Lake Country Club.

A group of 13 golfers are within six shots of the lead, including four local linksters. Quincy Notre Dame’s Beau Eftink is fourth after posting a 3-over 75, while Quincy High School’s Hunter St. Clair, Canton’s Trevor Biggerstaff and Hannibal’s Kyle Locke are tied at 5-over 77.

“Overall, I felt like I really hit the ball well,” Thomas said. “It’s a familiar course. I was happy with how I played.”

Thomas birdied the first three holes and nearly made eagle on the par-5 third hole when his eagle putt lipped out.

“I was like, ‘I have a perfect round going right now,’” Thomas said. “I was just trying to tell myself, ‘Just keep your head. You can’t get distracted.’”

Then came the fourth hole.

“Right when I said that, I looked up and it was the fourth hole and I was like ‘Oh, man, there’s (out of bounds) left, there’s OB left,’ and I just got in my head and I just blocked it to the right,” Thomas said.

Thomas took bogey on the par-4 fourth and another bogey on the fifth hole, but he bounced back with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.

“I was like, ‘OK, you’re steady now,’” Thomas said.

Thomas carded another bogey on No. 8.

“I was like ‘OK, we’re not going to do this,’” Thomas said.

He steadied the ship with a par on No. 9.

“That’s probably the first time I’ve ever done that before,” Thomas said of making his first par of the day on the ninth hole. “I finally got level-headed and played some good golf.”

Thomas played a much less stressful back nine with six pars, two birdies and a bogey to finish with the only round in the 60s.

“If you would have seen that I had seven birdies, you probably would have thought that I shot like 5- or 6-under, but nope,” Thomas said. “It was such a back and forth day.”

Thomas is paired with Kuykendall and AJ Hovermale, of Sarasota, Fla., for Wednesday’s final round. They are scheduled to tee off at 11:48 am. Hovermale finished second last year, while defending champion Ryan Suhre of Edwardsville, Ill., is tied for 15th at 6-over 78.

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