E.A. Sports Today

Decisions, decisions

[corner-ad id=2]Player of the Year Cole, the top seed, is uncertain about playing in the County Match Play Championship

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

He didn’t say no, but he didn’t say yes, either.

As the winner of the season-long Calhoun County Golf Tour points race, Ty Cole is automatically installed as the top seed for the upcoming County Match Play Championship, but there’s a distinct possibility the newly crowned Player of the Year might not play.

The demands of his new teaching job in his hometown and the logistics associated with a 90-minute drive to play a match that potentially won’t go much longer has Cole contemplating passing on the event again.

As much as he enjoys the competition the county provides, he already has said he probably won’t play the full Calhoun County Tour schedule next year.

The first-round matches aren’t supposed to start until after this weekend’s Buddy Moore Memorial Classic at Anniston Municipal and since the event has gone away from a weekend format it’s up to the players to decide when they’ll play.

“I don’t know, just because I don’t know how it works; I don’t know if there’s a timeline on the matches, things like that,” he said Sunday in the afterglow of his second Calhoun County Championship victory in three years. “The people I play in the Match Play, they’re literally going to have to play when I can play. It’s a logistics thing for me.

“I’ve got a little bit of time (to figure it out). I’m not going to say I’m not going to play.”

Cole didn’t play in the Match Play last year as the No. 2 seed, giving 15th seed Clay Calkins a bye into the second round, where he lost to eventual champion Andrew Brooks 2 up.

If Cole doesn’t play this year, No. 16 seed Daniel Black would earn a pass into the second round.

Several of the upper seeds thought the top seed should play in the event if possible, but they also understood the dynamics of Cole’s circumstance.

Tour co-director Jeremy McGatha, the No. 3 seed, has encouraged him to consider playing, but said the tournament will go on if he’s not in the field.

“This is something we have tried our hardest to get started and we’re not going to let it go away,” McGatha said. “If one person decides not to play — and that one person this year could be the Player of the Year – we’ll still rock on and we’ll still move on.

“We will still crown a Match Play champion, he will still get a crystal trophy and next year we’ll go on with the next one. Every year we’re going to have a Match Play Championship regardless who shows up.”

HAPPY TO BE HERE: While the top seed is contemplating whether to play, the defending champion is relieved to be in the field.

Andrew Brooks had fretted for the months about not getting into the field to defend his title, but made the Top 16 with room to spare after his eighth-place overall finish in the County Championship.

He is the No. 12 seed in the Match Play Championship and will play Caleb McKinney in his opening-round match.

“It’s definitely a relief,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself; it wasn’t any outside pressure. It’s a relief to get in it and go from there. I had to grind. I only made three birdies all week; I average about three or four a round.”

FUN WITH NUMBERS: Ty Cole won three events and finished second two other times on his way to becoming Player of the Year. He also won four of the Tour’s season-long statistical categories.

He was the Tour leader in stroke average (69.88) and led it in greens in regulation (12.93). He also had the best scoring average on the par-3s and par-5s.

Clay Calkins had the best fairways average (11.30) among players having enough rounds to qualify and was one of the sharpest putters on Tour. One of the few on the Tour using the long putter, he had the best putts-per-GIR average (1.725) and was third in overall putts and second in three-putt avoidance.

“I’ve played on the Tour every year it’s been in existence and I haven’t ever won an end-of-year award, which is fine, but it’s nice to feel like you’re improving and getting better,” Calkins said. “I’ve really worked on hitting fairways. I’ve really worked on trying to straighten the ball out.

“Part of it is because I’m old and don’t hit it far enough to get in trouble, but it’s nice to hit a lot of fairways.”

Dalton Chandler had the best putting average (28.07), while his father Ott had the best three-putt avoidance (.030). Caleb McKinney led the Tour in scrambling (61.5 percent); he went 15-for-15 in the Pine Hill Invitational.

Gary Wigington had the most birdies (75), while Cole had the most eagles (4). There were 22 total eagles on the Tour this year, including two holes-in-one by Janson Wilborn.

The final Calhoun County Tour statistics package of the season will be posted on the East Alabama Sports Today website Tuesday.

Buddy Moore Bracket
Ty Cole (1) vs. Daniel Black (16)
Billy Thompson (8) vs. Ott Chandler (9)
Caleb McKinney (5) vs. Andrew Brooks (12)
Dalton Chandler (4) vs. Lance Evans (13)

Chris Banister Bracket
Jeremy McGatha (3) vs. Jake Goggans (14)
Kevin Daugherty (6) vs. Matt Rogers (11)
Clay Calkins (7) vs. Adrian Geeting (10)
Gary Wigington (2) vs. Dan Griffin (15)

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