E.A. Sports Today

No. 1 on your scorecard

[corner-ad id=2]Quick action lands Wilkins, Wright as first team in 2015 Sunny King Classic field

Sunny King partners and forever friends Cale Wright (L) and Dustin Wilkins are Team No. 1 in this year's tournament.

Sunny King partners and forever friends Cale Wright (L) and Dustin Wilkins are Team No. 1 in this year’s tournament.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

No matter where Dustin Wilkins and Cale Wright finish in the 37th annual Sunny King Charity Classic they are always going to be No. 1 in this year’s event.

That’s because when you run down the lineup of the current 167 teams in the Classic field, Wilkins and Wright are Team 1.

For many years, Mike Braxton and Jim Young were the traditional first entry in the tournament – even before the defending champions — often hand-delivering their registration form and check the moment applications became available. More recently, it had been Chase Thomas and Ryan Huff.

Wilkins, a partner in the credit card processing firm MLS Direct Network of Alabama and recent first-time dad, isn’t sure exactly how the team came to be No. 1, but admits it is a “really neat” distinction.

“I guess whenever he sent me the email I wouldn’t be surprised if I responded on the spot to make sure we got it done,” he said. “I definitely didn’t call ahead because I knew the email was coming, but I don’t think we set on it at all.”

“He jumped on it,” said Wright. “Last year Dustin signed us up pretty early, too. We were like 4 or 5.”

This will be the third straight year the 16-handicaps have played together in the Classic. Two years ago they tied for 22nd in the Ford Fusion fourth flight after a disappointing final round. Last year they finished tied for fourth in the Honda Civic fifth flight after a best-on-the-course final-round 65 at Silver Lakes.

This year they’re looking to be No. 1 in more places than the registry.

“Last year we made nine birdies in the scramble — it was the best day of golf I’ve ever had in my life,” said Wilkins, who recently shot even par on the front nine at Cider Ridge with two eagles. “We’ve been practicing a lot. I hope we’ll do better this year.”

Wright admitted the team didn’t have much of a strategy in their debut – “we were just playing golf,” he said — but they quickly learned the secret to Sunny King success: Making lots of birdies.

“In that flight everybody’s handicap brings them back to par; it’s how many birdies you can make,” Wright said. “When you’ve got bogey in the bag, you’ve gotta go for the birdie. You’ve got to get on the green in two and try to make every putt for birdie, then if you miss, you’ve got two putt for (net) par. You can’t leave any putts.”

Wilkins and Wright, the Oxford High School golf coach, may have been playing in the Classic together only a few years, but they’ve been best friends a lot longer. Wright was the best man in Wilkins’ wedding and Wilkins would have been Wright’s had he had a wedding party.

“We grew up together so we’ve been great friends,” Wilkins said. “We’ll be partners every year until one of us can’t play any more.”


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