E.A. Sports Today

Twig gets early start on winning

UPDATED: Wigington wins King of the Hill by five shots, some four months ahead of his usual schedule

Since 2010, Wigington’s average finish in the first three events of the season has been seventh. In the final three events, it’s second.

King of the Hill champion Gary Wigington follows his drive off the 14th tee Sunday.

King of the Hill champion Gary Wigington follows his drive off the 14th tee Sunday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Gary Wigington usually waits until the middle of summer before he starts dominating the competition. This year, he’s started his winning right out of the gate and that’s a scary prospect for the rest of the Calhoun County Golf Tour.

Wigington shot a second-round 3-under-par 67 Sunday — the best round on a tough day — and won the season-opening King of the Hill tournament at Anniston Municipal by five shots. He shot 4-under 136 for two days.

In doing so, he tied Jaylon Ellison for all-time Tour wins (nine) and grabbed the early lead in this season’s CCGT Player of the Year points race. Ty Cole finished second (141) and Jeremy McGatha was third (143).

“Twig winning the first event of the year, we all better step it up or we ain’t going to have a chance,” McGatha said. “The guy’s great. When he plays good, he’s tough to beat, and winning early … here we go.”

Because of business and family considerations, Wigington usually doesn’t get his game cranking until around the Sunny King Charity Classic and then he has to bear down to do enough to win the Player of the Year award he’s claimed the last three years in a row.

This is the earliest he has ever won on the County Tour. His first win in 2010 came in the second event of the schedule, but all the others have come in the Pine Hill Invitational or later. Two weeks ago, he and Cole lost in a playoff in the County Two-Man.

That loss sharpened the 45-year-old entrepreneur’s focus and Cole noted his short game was a lot sharper this week. He hit 11 greens and had seven birdies in Sunday’s final round.

Last year he was sixth, T-18 and T-7 among Tour players in the first three events. In fact, he’d had only one top five finish among the first three events the previous two seasons (third in the 2013 KOTH).

Since 2010, his average finish among Tour players in the first three events of the season has been seventh. In the final three events it’s second.

“I’ve been able to play more in the last three or four weeks than I’ve had usually before the first tournament,” Wigington said. “Usually I just don’t play at all during the winter, but the last month or so I’ve been playing and practicing a good bit trying to get more ready than I usually am, so that’s helped a lot.

“I knew I needed to start earlier than I always do. I just always put it off because of everything, but this year I was able to play intermittently during the winter, which helped. I wanted to play more and I did.”

Wigington wasn’t really pushed Sunday. He continued to play steady while the contenders around him found it tough going as they tried to keep pace. He had a six-shot lead when he made the turn.

He did show some signs of vulnerability late in the round when he double-bogeyed 15 and bogeyed 17. Of course, he wrapped them inside birdies at 14, 16 and 18.

“There’s plenty to still do, I have to work on a lot of things, actually,” he said. “Every week it’s a new tournament; you’ve just got to do your best every time because there are a lot of players here who have a chance to win. Ain’t nobody going to win every week.”

With the first one in his pocket, he’s the only one who can do that now.

The other flight winners were Eric Cannington, Ott Chandler, Dalton Chandler and Keith Raisanen. Cannington and Raisanen both won on scorecard playoffs. Dalton Chandler made a nine-shot improvement to win his flight by five; Ott Chandler bettered his opening-round score by six.

Cannington won a flight in which all 10 players shot 74 in the opening round, making it a one-day shootout where the slightest mistake could ruin a player’s chances.

Even though everyone was tied, Cannington went out feeling like the leader and the tournament his to lose. He was 3-over after eight holes, but fought back and won the flight in a scorecard playoff with Jake Goggans with a birdie on 18.

“It was actually more pressure than I thought it’d be,” he said. “I actually thought I gave it away. Birdying the last hole I thought was going to be big.”

King of the Hill
Anniston Municipal GC

First-round scores

Championship A
Gary Wigington 69-67—136
Ty Cole 69-72—141
Jeremy McGatha 72-71—143
Billy Thompson 73-71—144
Lance Evans 70-74—144
Caleb McKinney 70-75—145
Rob Davie 73-73—146
Adrian Geeting 71-77—148
Andrew Brooks 71-79—150
Jonathan Pate 72-85—157

Championship B
Eric Cannington 74-75—149
Jake Goggans 74-75—149
Nick Pollard 74-76—150
Austin Minter 74-77—151
Landon Straub 74-79—153
Cole McNeal 74-80—154
Scott Eaton 74-80—155
George Salmon 74-81—155
TJ McGatha 74-82—156
Tim Steward 74-82—156

First flight
Ott Chandler 75-69—144
Janson Wilborn 76-69—145
Matt Rogers 76-72—148
Daniel Black 75-74—149
Chandler Wilborn 76-73—149
Jacob Lecroy 75-75—150
Dan Griffin 76-76—152
Jeff Borrelli 76-80—156
Benji Turley 75-81—156

Second flight
Dalton Chandler 78-69—147
Dan McClellan 80-72—152
Ted Heim 78-75—153
Jimbo Phillips 77-80—157
Josh Poole 78-79—157
Brandon Roberts 78-80—158
Bruce Collins 80-81—161
Jamie Strickland 80 82—162

Third flight
Keith Raisanen 83-83—166
Brad Hardin 82-84—166
Kelly Rogers 81-89—170
Davis Glass 85-92—177
Lynn Oswalt 82-WD

Closest to the pin – 2/11: Benji Turley; 7/16: Caleb McKinney

(Through King of the Hill)

Gary Wigington 300
Ty Cole 250
Jeremy McGatha 225
Billy Thomspon 191.7
Lance Evans 191.7
Ott Chandler 191.7
Janson Wilborn 177.5
Caleb McKinney 177.5
Dalton Chandler 170
Adrian Geeting 162.5
Matt Rogers 162.5
Daniel Black 147.5
Chandler Wilborn 147.5
Eric Cannington 147.5
Jake Goggans 147.5
Andrew Brooks 130
Nick Pollard 130
Jacob Lecroy 130
Austin Minter 120
Dan Griffin 112.5
Dan McClellan 112.5
Ted Heim 102.5
Landon Straub 102.5
Cole McNeal 95
Scott Eaton 87.5
George Salmon 87.5
TJ McGatha 72.5
Tim Steward 72.5
Jeff Borrelli 72.5
Benji Turley 72.5
Jonathan Pate 55
Jimbo Phillips 55
Josh Poole 55
Brandon Roberts 50
Keith Raisanen 50
Brad Hardin 50
Kelly Rogers 50
Davis Glass 50

Jimbo Phillips contemplates his options from a tight spot near the 18th green Sunday.

Jimbo Phillips contemplates his options from a tight spot near the 18th green Sunday.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login