E.A. Sports Today

McGatha stands up to wind

[corner-ad id=2]McGatha (68), Cole (69), Contris (71) post only rounds under par on windy day at Silver Lakes

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES — When the wind blows in a tournament at Silver Lakes it usually takes most of the leaderboard with it.

But Jeremy McGatha managed to keep himself grounded – and so did Ty Cole later in the round – and both wound up on top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the RTJ Silver Lakes Championship.

McGatha and Cole posted the two best of the only three rounds under par Saturday, getting around in 4-under-par 68 and 69, respectively. Zach Contris of Hokes Bluff posted the only other red-number round, a 1-under 71.

McGatha stood up to the wind with a run of four straight birdies coming around the turn and six in his last 11 holes. The run began right after he three-putted for par in a hard rain on the par-5 Backbreaker No. 7.

“It started raining real hard on 7 and once the rain stopped, the wind picked up,” McGatha said. “It started from 8, 9, 10 on and it blew pretty hard. I played good in that wind.

“For me, it’s just ball striking. The way I’ve been hitting my irons, I’ve been trying to fade every shot and it’s just working and I’m hitting the ball really solid. It’s tough to play in the wind period, but it helps if you hit it solid. If you miss it, the wind magnifies it.”

The scariest hole on the course with wind blowing is the closing Heartbreaker ninth, and McGatha admitted he was worried about that one. He thought he hit a better shot into the green that he got, but he still made par.

With the wind freshening, he said he was glad to be finished when he was. Cole played in even more wind later in the afternoon, although it didn’t pick up significantly on his group until it reached the back nine.

By then the Calhoun County Golf Tour points leader was already 3-under with an eagle and three birdies. He finished with an eagle and five birdies, but lost shots to four bogeys.

“Nobody played in the wind we did, but (McGatha) had to deal with all the rain,” Cole said. “I just made too many bogeys.

“I’m not disappointed with 69, but when you make an eagle and five birdies you’re not expecting to shoot 3-under. … I had opportunities on the back nine, I just couldn’t make a putt. My speed got off. Everything I’m hitting (is) dead in the center, short.”

Contris was playing his first tournament in about a year as he prepares for U.S. Amateur qualifying in July. He took some time off from competitive golf when he lost his spot on the Jacksonville State golf team to recharge his batteries and returned to play on his home course.

He had five birdies in his round and closed with five pars in a row in what he described as a club and a half wind.

“If (McGatha) made birdies while it was windy that’s pretty solid; I was struggling just to make pars,” he said. “It was definitely scoreable when the wind wasn’t blowing, but I don’t think there are any 65s or 66s out there now.

“I’m feeling good after today, at least coming up with a red number. Hopefully I can put one up a little bit lower one tomorrow and maybe win this thing.”

Three players were at 72 – Scott Martin, Clay Calkins and Gary Wigington. Martin, a former winner of this championship, and Calkins both birdied their first two holes and Calkins birdied three of his first four. Wigington recovered from two double bogeys on the front to shoot even par.

One of the subplots of the day was Dalton Chandler’s return to the Tour after winning its previous event at Cane Creek for his first career victory. He posted a 73 and is tied with Eric Lewis and Dan Griffin.

Chandler admitted there was a “different” feel going onto the course Saturday as a tournament winner. He was 2-under through four holes before making his first bogey and turned 1-under, but played his last eight holes in 3-over.

The strongest scrambler on the Tour this season, he converted only 50 percent of his opportunities in the round. Still better than the Tour average and acceptable by most, but below his season standard.

“It was different for me because I’m supposed to do it again, but it wasn’t happening today,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to shoot 73 today. I’d like to think I’ll shoot better than 73 tomorrow. I hope I do.”

Silver Lakes pass-holder Jason Thomason had perhaps the best run of the day. He made six birdies in a eight-hole stretch after starting double bogey-bogey-bogey. He birdied 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11, and shot 75.

RTJ Silver Lakes Championship

Championship flight
Jeremy McGatha 36-32—68
Ty Cole 33—36—69
Zach Contris 35-36—71
Gary Wigington 37-35—72
Scott Martin 37-35—72
Clay Calkins 34-38—72
Dalton Chandler 35-38—73
Eric Lewis 37-36—73
Dan Griffin 36-37—73
Kevin Daughtery 37-37—74
Chad Calvert 38-36—74

Championship B flight
Matt Rogers 38-37—75
Janson Wilborn 37-38—75
Caleb McKinney 38-37—75
Michael Watson 37-38—75
Dustin Travis 38-37—75
Billy Thompson 36-39—75
Jason Thomason 35-40—75
Chad Reavis 37-38—75
Eric Cannington 38-37—75
Jeremy Willis 35-41—76
Chad Hare 35-41—76
Kenneth Larkin 40-36—76
Lewis Lecroy 41-36—77
Doug East 40-37—77
Jake Goggans 39-39—78
Rob Davie 38-40—78
David Beard 38-40—78
Cole McNeal 40-38—78

First flight
Phillip Hunt 37-42—79
Brady Garrett 36-43—79
Andrew Brooks 39-40—79
Adrian Geeting 39-40—79
Josh Jackson 36-43—79
Michael Skinner 41-38—79
Trevor Lane 40-40—80
Wes Coleman 35-45—80
Michael Downey 39-41—80
Ryan Huff 40-40—80
Timmy Woodard 41-39—80
Jeff Bain 42-38—80
Kenny Wright 41-39—80
Ott Chandler 36-45—81
Jacob Lecroy 42-39—81
Tim Steward 39-42—81
Chip Howell 38-43—81
David Sanders 38-43—81
Luke Armstrong 38-43—81
Benji Turley 39-42—81

Second flight
Chris Maye 40-42—82
Austin Hooks 39-43—82
Eric Messer 40-42—82
Mark Durden 40-42—82
Rick Okins 47-35—82
Casey McGinnis 42-40—82
Landon Straub 40-43—83
Trey Stone 45-38—83
Josh Haynes 41-42—83
Joe Hedgepeth 41-44—85
Tony Hicks 43-42—85
Rick Houston 39-47—86
Brad Hardin 43-44—87
Nick Pollard 44-44—88
John Gasser 45-43—88
Dilion Davis 42-46—88
Clayton Chandler 41-47—88
Daniel Black 47-41—88
Adam Carns 43-45—88

Third flight
Richard Hughes 44-47—91
Dakota Yawn 48-43—91
Dan McClellan 40-51—91
Jerry Kemp 46-46—92
Tyler Davis 43-49—92
Austin Minter 43-49—92
Kelly Rogers 45-47—92
Al Muskewitz 46-46—92
Curtis Barker 44-49—93
Alan Danrall 47-46—93
Lamar Ward 46-48—94

Fourth flight
Mickey Travis 43-52—95
Jackson Johnson 51-44—95
Marty Branson 51-46—97
Nick Hubbard 51-48—99
Haden Downey 48-51—99
Heath Waldrop 45-58—103
Bill Leach 55-49—104

Sunday’s pairings
8:10 a.m. – Nick Hubbard, Heath Waldrop, Bill Beach
8:20 – Jackson Johnson, Mickey Travis, Haden Downey
8:30 – Alan Darnall, Lamar Ward, Curtis Barker, Marty Branson
8:40 – Al Muskewitz, Kelly Rogers, Jerry Kemp, Austin Minter
8:50 – Dan McClellan, Dakota Yawn, Richard Hughes, Tyler Davis
9:00 – Nick Pollard, John Gasser, Adam Carns, Clayton Chandler
9:10 – Rick Houston, Brad Hardin, Daniel Black, Dilion Davis
9:20 – Trey Stone, Landon Straub, Tony Hicks, Joe Hedgepath
9:30 – Rick Okins, Chris Maye, Casey McGinnis, Austin Hooks
9:40 – Luke Armstrong, Benji Turley, Mark Durden, Eric Messer
9:50 – Chip Howell, David Sanders, Jacob Lecroy, Ott Chandler
10:00 – Wes Coleman, Trevor Lane, Tim Steward, Kenny Wright
10:10 – Michael Downey, Jeff Bain, Timmy Woodard, Ryan Huff
10:20 – Brady Garrett, Phillip Hunt, Michael Skinner, Josh Haynes
10:30 – Josh Jackson, Andrew Brooks, Jake Goggans, Adrian Geeting
10:40 – Lewis Lecroy, Rob Davie, David Beard, Cole McNeal
10:50 – Kenneth Larkin, Jeremy Willis, Chad Hare, Doug East
11:00 – Janson Wilborn, Chad Reavis, Chad Calvert, Eric Cannington
11:10 – Caleb McKinney, Dustin Travis, Michael Watson, Matt Rogers
11:20 – Dan Griffin, Kevin Daugherty, Billy Thompson, Jason Thomason
11:30 – Clay Calkins, Gary Wigington, Dalton Chandler, Eric Lewis
11:40 – Jeremy McGatha, Ty Cole, Zach Contris, Scott Martin

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