E.A. Sports Today

Another 63, another win

[corner-ad id=1]Wigington shoots 63 in final round for third year in a row to win third straight Pine Hill Invitational

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

You didn’t think Gary Wigington was just going to give up his position at the top of the game without a fight, did you?

Wigington turned back a perceived challenge by Dalton Chandler to his position as the best player in Calhoun County with a final-round 63 that propelled him to the Pine Hill Invitational title for the third year in a row Sunday.

And for the third year in a row he shot 9-under 63 in the final round.

“Nine under was my goal today,” he said. “That’s what I figured I had to shoot to have any chance at all.”

That’s because Chandler was threatening to run away from the field after a 63 of his own in the opening round. But Wigington stuck to his plan and finished at 13-under 131, three clear of Jeremy McGatha (68), Chandler (71) and four-time reigning Pine Hill club champion Josh Poole (67).

Ty Cole, who entered the weekend leading the Calhoun County Tour points standings, shot the second best round of the day (66) and finished fifth.

Wigington’s round featured nine birdies and an eagle offset by two bogeys. He made six straight birdies in the middle of the round to take the lead and forged a four-shot lead with three holes to play with his eagle at 15.

He has made 47 birdies in his three Pine Hill victories and 54 in the tournament over the last four years.

“The thing for me about this course, if you’re hitting driver in play and you hit it out there pretty long you can shoot a good number out here,” he said. “The last few years I’ve hit the driver good and in play and it presents a lot of birdie opportunities when you do that.“

Wigington has long been considered the best player in the county, and the body of work to back it up. But the 20-year-old Chandler was gaining traction as the best player of now after winning two of the county’s previous three major events and shooting 63 in the opening round here.

Overnight comments to that effect motivated Wigington into a rare 2½-hour pre-round practice session Sunday, which he credited with sharpening him for his record-setting 10th Calhoun County Tour victory.

He hasn’t finished worst than third in any of his last 10 County Tour events and has been fourth or better in 20 of his last 27.

“We’re old, but we’re not out yet,” he said. “When I read it this morning it kind of gave me a little more motivation. It made me get me up a little earlier and go practice more … than I was going to. It was in the thought process most of the morning there.

“I wanted to do something about it, I guess you could say.”

Chandler carried a three-shot lead into the round – five over Wigington — and maintained it through five holes. But McGatha was keeping pace and eventually overtook him with back-to-back birdies-to-bogeys exchanges on 6 and 7.

It was on those same holes playing in front of the leaders Wigington caught two nice breaks after bad drives that led to birdies “that got everything going.” And with the help of his birdie barrage he had the lead at the turn.

McGatha, meanwhile, thought he had it going early and remained out front until he double bogeyed 9 and failed to produce another birdie until 17. Chandler regained a share of the lead with birdies on 10 and 11, but Wigington took the lead for good with birdie on 13. The lead grew when Chandler bogeyed 13 and it went to four shots with Wigington’s eagle at 15.

The eagle was set up by a cut 4-iron from under the trees he called “one of the better shots I’ve hit in a while.” It put him in good position to set single-round tournament and Tour scoring records, but he had a couple loose 3-woods off the tee on 17 and 18 that made him work for a par and take a closing bogey.

Chandler couldn’t take advantage of them, however, as he missed makeable putts on 15, 16 and 17 that would’ve kept up the pressure. As it was, he needed eagle on 18 to force a championship playoff, but hit his second shot down near the ninth green and needed two more shots to find the putting surface.

“He played great, but I gave it away,” Chandler said. “You can’t shoot 71 on this golf course (and expect success). I didn’t hit the ball any much different than yesterday; I just didn’t make anything today.

“I hit a bunch of good putts. The 71 could’ve been a 67 with no problem, but I missed five or six putts inside five feet. I didn’t play that bad, I just didn’t score … at … all.”

The win vaulted Wigington into a tie for the lead in the reset Calhoun County Player of the Year race, which he has won the last three years in a row further validating his position as the best in town. With the series points adjusted to reflect a player’s best four finishes heading into the Calhoun County Championship, Wigington and Cole both have 1,100 points.

McGatha won a three-way playoff for second with an eagle on the first extra hole; he drove the 10th green and made a 20-foot putt. He’s now third in the standings with 975 points, making winning the County almost imperative now for him to claim a third Player of the Year award. A win in the County is worth 450 points.

“I needed to win,” he said. “Being 125 points behind going into the County, that’s (finishing) first and one of those two finishing third and fourth. It ain’t going to happen.”


Player 453 345 444 36 444 435 345 36 72
Wigington 343 434 333 30 344 333 346 33 63
McGatha 442 344 346 34 444 435 334 34 68
Chandler 353 336 535 36 334 534 346 35 71
Poole 353 345 444 35 333 435 434 32 67
Cole 442 344 434 32 343 444 345 34 66

Final results

Championship flight
Gary Wigington 68-63—131
Jeremy McGatha 66-68—134
Dalton Chandler 63-71—134
Josh Poole 67-67—134
Ty Cole 69-66—135
Caleb McKinney 71-67—138
Kevin Daugherty 68-70—138
Andrew Brooks 68-71—139
Christian Rogers 70-72—142
Billy Thompson 71-71—142
Daniel Black 70-73—143
Cole McNeal 71-73—144
Dustin Travis 70-76—146
Jacob Lecroy 71-76—147
Clay Calkins 71-78—149

First flight
Adrian Geeting 72-68—140
Caleb Bowen 73-71—144
Ott Chandler 74-70—144
Lewis Lecroy 72-72—144
Nick Pollard 73-71—144
Mark Durden 72-73—145
Benji Turley 75-72—147
Tony Hicks 73-75—148
Jonathan Pate 74-74—148
Luke Armstrong 73-77—150
Kyle Turner 72-79—151
Mike Granato 74-78—152
Rick Okins 75-77—152
Chance Harris 74-81—155

Second flight
Austin Minter 77-72—149
Chandler Wilborn 76-74—150
Chip Howell 78-73—151
Jono Waugh 76-75—151
Drennan Beam 76-76—152
Matt Rogers 77-75—152
Dennis Austin 76-77—153
Jason Katz 77-78—155
Keith Raisenen 79-76—155
Steve Taylor 79-79—158
Mickey Travis 77-83—160
Carter Gable 80-82—162

Third flight
Dustin Viehe 81-78—159
Ted Heim 81-79—160
Tanner Wells 87-76—163
Heath Waldrop 81-82—163
Lenn Coffey 84-80—164
Greg Rainey 90-83—173
Ricky Hurst 88-86—174
Ben Surrency 83-92—175
Kelly Rogers 81-97—178
David Stephens 91-89—180
Brad Hardin 96-87—183
David Merrill 91-96—187
Wayne Boyd 83-WD

Unofficial Calhoun County Golf Tour points standings
(x-reflects a player’s top four finishes before County Championship)

Name Adj. Total
Ty Cole 1100
Gary Wigington 1100
Jeremy McGatha 975
Dalton Chandler 925
Ott Chandler 754.2
Caleb McKinney 717.5
Adrian Geeting 670
Kevin Daugherty 667.5
Billy Thompson 659.2
Janson Wilborn 645
Clay Calkins 637.5
Matt Rogers 615
Chandler Wilborn 600
Dan Griffin 592.5
Daniel Black 592.5
Cole McNeal 577.5
Lance Evans 571.7
Jake Goggans 565
Andrew Brooks 562.5
Jacob Lecroy 537.5
Jonathan Pate 507.5
Eric Cannington 497.5
Caleb Bowen 467.5
Nick Pollard 462.5
Dustin Travis 455
Chip Howell 442.5
Benji Turley 432.5
Austin Minter 422.5
Tim Steward 417.5
Dan McClellan 402.5
Landon Straub 390
Scott Martin 385
Kenny Wright 307.5
Keith Raisanen 307.5
Luke Armstrong 282.5
Josh Poole 280
Kelly Rogers 275
Ted Heim 232.5
Brad Hardin 230
Scott Eaton 200
Layton Bussey 155
Brandon Roberts 147.5
Jeff Borrelli 122.5
T.J. McGatha 122.5
Al Muskewitz 115
Jimbo Phillips 105
Jackson Johnson 105
Ted Saylors 87.5
George Salmon 85
Davis Glass 50

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