E.A. Sports Today

Cole leads County by 2

[corner-ad id=2]Change in putting style early in the round helps produce strong close; tee times included

Andrew Brooks splashes out of the hazard on No. 15 at Cane Creek Golf Course in Friday's Calhoun County Championship. He made a double bogey on the hole and shot 74 in the round.

Andrew Brooks splashes out of the hazard on No. 15 at Cane Creek Golf Course in Friday’s Calhoun County Championship. He made a double bogey on the hole and shot 74 in the round.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When something works you stick with it. Maybe.

Ty Cole just might putt the whole round Saturday cross-handed after what it did for him over the final 14 holes in Friday’s opening round of the 79th Calhoun County Championship.

The County Tour points co-leader shot 2-under-par 70 at Cane Creek and played the final four holes in 3-under to do it – with a completely different putting style than the one he started with.

The round helped him open a two-shot lead over Gary Wigington, the player he entered the weekend tied with in the points standings, and upstart Austin Minter.

Clay Calkins, Daniel Black, Matt Rogers, Caleb McKinney, Dalton Chandler and Billy Thompson all shot 73s.

Wigington is bidding to win a record-setting seventh County Championship and fourth straight Calhoun County Player of the Year award. For Minter, who has been playing the game only four years, it was his second straight 72 in a Tour event; he posted the score in the final round of the Pine Hill Invitational to win the second flight.

“I didn’t score as well as I hit it; I hit it really good today,” Cole said. “I’m pleased for no more golf than I’ve played (recently). The wind is blowing, the par-3s are all playing 190-plus; it’s not easy today.”

In a rather unconventional move, Cole switched putting styles mid-round, going with a cross-handed approach for the final 14 holes after pulling all his putts early in the round with the conventional style.

The strong close that carried him to the top of the leaderboard started with a hot 20-foot putt from the fringe for birdie on the par-3 15th and ended with a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th after hitting a 7-iron into the green. He had two good birdie chances on the holes in between.

“I’m so stupid I may alternate holes tomorrow … I have no idea,” Cole said. “I’m liable to go to the (practice) green and putt three one way and three the other way and go with which feels right. We might switch on No. 8 tomorrow or make it to 15 and switch back.”

Cole was 1-over for the day coming out of The Hollow and figured on having a good shot at birdie on the par-5 14th. He had 220 yards to the green into the wind and his ball finished against the back lip of the left greenside bunker; he made par.

He made the birdie on 15 to get back to even par, missed birdie chances on 16 and 17 and then closed with his eagle on 18.

Wigington birdied two of his final four holes to get back to even par and felt “fortunate to still be in the thick of things going into the weekend.”

Minter, meanwhile, was sailing in uncharted waters. He capped a frenetic round with an eagle on 18 after hitting a choked-down 3-wood from 245 yards to three feet. It was a bold comeback after having bogeyed three of his first four holes of the day.

“I scrambled like hell today,” he said, noting he hit only eight greens. “I was well on my way to a good ol’ 85. Luckily, I scrambled well and made a birdie and eagle coming in.”

It will be his first foray into the Championship Flight of a County Tour event, and he gets paired with the two players fighting it out for Player of the Year.

“I’ve never played with Ty before; I played with Twig in the Sunny King so I’ll probably feel OK,” he said. “I have nerves for the first four holes with anybody – even with my buddies when I play in one of these tournaments. I’m hoping I can get through the first three or four holes without screwing up terribly.”

Championship flight qualifying
Ty Cole 70
Gary Wigington 72
Austin Minter 72
Clay Calkins 73
Daniel Black 73
Matt Rogers 73
Caleb McKinney 73
Dalton Chandler 73
Billy Thompson 73
Kevin Daugherty 74
Andrew Brooks 74
Jeremy McGatha 75
Dan McClellan 75
Scott Eaton 76
John Tucker 77
Lance Evans 77
Keith Raisanen 78
Chip Howell 78
Adrian Geeting 79
Dan Griffin 79
Chandler Wilborn 79
Layton Bussey 79
Jake Goggans 80

Saturday’s tee times
9 a.m. – Jake Goggans, Chandler Wilborn, Layton Bussey
9:08 – Keith Raisanen, Chip Howell, Adrian Geeting
9:16 – Lance Evans, Jeremy McGatha, Kevin Daugherty
9:24 – Andrew Brooks, Billy Thompson, Matt Rogers
9:32 – Caleb McKinney, Dalton Chandler, Daniel Black
9:40 – Clay Calkins, Gary Wigington, Austin Minter, Ty Cole
10:12 – Bo Savage, Kelly Rogers, Tyler Teneyck
10:20 – Rick Dickson, Rocco D’Gomez, John McKenzie
10:28 – Chris Maye, Steve Davis, T.J. McGatha
10:36 – Don Hill, Kane Gibson, Dave Dillman
10:44 – Vinny Floyd, Sean Hayes, Jimbo Phillips
10:52 – Greg Rainey, Corey Trantham, Heath Waldrop, Dakota Yawn
11:00 – Layne Dyar, Briton Proper, Kyle Turner, Jacob Lecroy
1 p.m. – Marshall Dunn, Dalton Leatherwood, Nick Pollard
1:45 – Dan McClellan, Dan Griffin, Scott Eaton, John Tucker

(Based on Friday’s first-round scores)
Ty Cole 1550
Gary Wigington 1456.25
Jeremy McGatha 1203.75
Dalton Chandler 1200
Caleb McKinney 992.5
Billy Thompson 934.2
Clay Calkins 912.5
Kevin Daugherty 911.25
x-Ott Chandler 904.2
Matt Rogers 890
Daniel Black 867.5
Adrian Geeting 846.25
Andrew Brooks 806.25
Lance Evans 781.7
Austin Minter 778.8
Chandler Wilborn 776.25

(On the bubble)
Dan Griffin 768.75
x-Janson Wilborn 732.5
Jake Goggans 722.5
Jacob Lecroy 683.75
x-Cole McNeal 657.5
Chip Howell 641.25
Dan McClellan 631.25
Nick Pollard 608.75
x-Jonathan Pate 512.5
Keith Raisanen 506.25
x-Eric Cannington 497.5
x-Benji Turley 495
x-Caleb Bowen 467.5
Scott Eaton 417.5

x-Not playing this week

You must be logged in to post a comment Login