E.A. Sports Today

Chandler’s hot streak continues

[corner-ad id=2]Dalton Chandler shoots 63, opens three-shot lead in Pine Hill Invitational

Dalton Chandler (L) lines up his putt on Pine Hill's 16th green as his father Ott moves off after completing the hole.

Dalton Chandler (L) lines up his putt on Pine Hill’s 16th green as his father Ott moves off after completing the hole.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Dalton Chandler was too polite to say it even if he allowed himself to think it, but everybody else seemed to want to.

If the recently turned 20-year-old isn’t the best player in Calhoun County right now, his father said he’s “right there with them.”

The younger Chandler continued his scintillating summer Saturday when he made a run at tournament and Calhoun County Tour scoring records by shooting 9-under-par 63 late in the opening round of the Pine Hill Invitational.

It put him three shots clear of Jeremy McGatha and four ahead of four-time reigning Pine Hill club champion Josh Poole. Andrew Brooks, Gary Wigington and former Anniston CC pro Kevin Daugherty are another shot back at 68.

Chandler missed the scoring records — 62 by Marcus Harrell in the opening round of the 2012 Pine Hill Invitational — by a stroke. He had a shot at it, lying just below the 18th green in 2, but parred the hole.

Wigington shot 63 in the final round of this tournament each of the last two years.

“He’s playing better than he’s ever played, as good as anybody around here and better than everybody probably,” Ott Chandler said. “He shot 9-under today and that’s three better than our best.

“Our best is Jeremy and Twig (Gary Wigington). He beat one by three and one by five, so that just tells you how good he’s playing. I think he’s got more potential than anybody around here.”

Chandler, who won the county high school boys medalist on this course as an Alexandria senior, had eight birdies, a 30-foot eagle putt and one bogey. He had 22 total putts – only nine total on the back nine – and chipped in twice for birdies. He played the final 11 holes in 7-under par, which included four straight birdies coming around the turn and three in his final five holes.

He got up-and-down from a missed green seven of eight times, running his season average in the scrambling department to .658.

The argument for Chandler being the current best was building long before Saturday’s round. Over the last seven weeks, he won the Cane Creek Invitational, coming from three down to Wigington with five to play and two back with three to go, won the Sunny King Charity Classic with his dad in record fashion and ran away from the field Saturday.

“Let me tell you something,” playing partner Daniel Black said. “I’ve never seen somebody play that well for so long that hasn’t really been on top of the radar. It was amazing. I loved it. I enjoyed watching it.”

Chandler called the round “one of those days that started OK and gradually got better.” As much as he seemed to appreciate the compliment, he wouldn’t go down the Patrick Reed road and outright proclaim himself one of the top players in the county.

“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “I’d say I had the best day today and hopefully I have the best tournament this weekend, but any given day, there are so many good players in this county – Jeremy, Matt (Rogers), Twig, Ty, dad, me, Kevin Daugherty if he plays good, Clay Calkins if he plays good, Andrew Brooks — any of those guys can have a good day and shoot 5- or 6-under par.

“Look at what Twig has done here the last two years. … I hope my end result finishes like his.”

Chandler wasn’t focused on the scoring records as he was taking his round deeper, he said. He was just trying to put as much distance between himself and the 6-under already posted because he knows the competition Sunday will be keen.

McGatha grabbed the early lead Saturday with seven birdies and a bogey. Poole played the back nine in 31 with six birdies and a bogey. Brooks went around the course bogey-free. Daugherty hit 17 greens and made one of his five birdies on the green he missed. Wigington had six birdies, four in a row coming around the turn, but had two three-putt bogeys.

McGatha is hoping to follow his Saturday round with an equally strong showing Sunday. The last two tournaments it hasn’t been that way. He followed a 71 at Cane Creek with an 80, and a 68 at Silver Lakes with a 76. They both produced top five finishes among County Tour players, but he’s looking for better.

“I’ve got to play good tomorrow,” he said. “I’m tired of coming in on good round Saturday and not playing the way I know I can on Sunday.”

LEADERS SCORECARDS

Player 453 345 444 36 444 435 345 36 72
D. Chandler 443 343 533 32 334 424 335 31 63
McGatha 443 354 434 34 433 434 344 32 66
Poole 453 344 364 36 333 524 335 31 67
Brooks 453 235 444 34 434 435 344 34 68
Daugherty 543 335 434 34 434 435 344 34 68
Wigington 454 344 433 34 334 445 344 34 68



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