E.A. Sports Today

Seniors skipping Oxford

Lack of success drawing a corporate sponsor has led to Sun Belt Senior Tour canceling this year’s stop at Cider Ridge

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The Sun Belt Senior Professional Golf Tour will not be returning to Cider Ridge Golf Club this year after organizers failed to secure a sponsor to help enhance the purse to draw players.

Tour administrators pulled the Oxford Senior Open from their schedule last week after Cider Ridge director of golf Doug Wert informed them efforts to land a sponsor were unsuccessful. The event was scheduled for May 24-27, the week after the tour’s annual stop in Cullman.

Don Barnes, the Tour’s executive director, told his players he wouldn’t run a tournament this year without a sponsor to boost the purse. He said he might have to cancel other events for similar reasons.

“Guys just don’t play for nothing,” Barnes said. “They’re independent contractors, they want to play for a purse and when we don’t have sponsors we don’t have a big enough purse and they won’t come. The bigger the purse, the better the players, the more players we get.

“I told the players every event this year will have an added purse and I’m not going to go against that. If we don’t have a sponsor we’re not doing a tournament — not just there, anywhere. It’s crazy to try to do one if it’s not going to be a successful event.”

Barnes said he would love to have an event at Cider Ridge and offered an option of holding it in September or October. He said as little as $5,000 in added support “would mean a lot.”

“I want to come back,” said Tim Conley of Braselton, Ga., last year’s first-round co-leader. “Hope we can.”

Corporate sponsors can boost the winner’s share of the purse by as much as $4,000. Last year’s $8,100 purse at Cider Ridge was supported by player and pro-am entry fees. Danny Edwards, a former PGA Tour winner, took home $2,500 from the inaugural event that drew 14 players.

Organizers hoped for a larger field this year with a more favorable date and no major tournament conflicts. They also hoped to have a corporate sponsor.

“All I’m going to say is when we talked about it with them we’re going to try again next year,” Wert said.

COUNTY FOUR-BALL: Gary Wigington and Ty Cole made five consecutive birdies in the middle of the back nine and nine birdies over their final 12 holes to grab the opening-round lead in the Calhoun County Four-Ball at Anniston Municipal GC.

The leaders were only 1-under through their first six holes, then caught fire with consecutive birdies on holes 12 through 16. They birdied 18 to complete the back nine in 29.

They shot 10-under 60 and hold a two-shot lead over Adrian Geeting and Austin Minter. Geeting made an eagle on the par-4 12th – on his birthday. He punched a 9-iron from the trees left of the green that hit the pin and dropped.

“I didn’t see it, but Austin started going nuts,” Geeting said. “He drove the green and was putting for eagle. I said, ‘Pick it up, you’re good.’”

The tournament concludes today with a scamble round. The Hill’s men’s golf association also will be running a cookout (weather permitting) and regardless of the weather the tournament’s raffle will be drawn prior to the scheduled start of play.

STATE FOUR-BALL: Lance Evans and Cypress Hathorn lost their first-round match in the 34th Alabama State Four-Ball Championship Saturday, but not before taking the match to the 18th hole.

The Anniston CC team lost to second-seeded Will Swift and Clay Guerin of Birmingham 1 up at Wynlakes Golf & Country Club.

The local players, both former Sunny King Charity Classic winners, went from 1 down to 2 up with consecutive wins at 8, 9 and 10. But Swift and Guerin birdied four holes in a row (12-15) to retake the lead.

Evans and Hathorn made it 1 down with one to play when they birdied 17, but they couldn’t draw even because both teams birdied 18.

ACC INVITATIONAL: Entries are now being accepted for the 68th annual Wilfred Galbraith Invitational at Anniston Country Club, May 13-15. Entry fee is $200 ($150 for ACC members). Deadline for entries is May 6. Registrations received after May 4 will carry an additional $30 fee. To register or receive more information contact the club at 237-8412 or Chris Burley at cburley94@gmail.com

At Anniston Municipal GC

First-round scores

Championship A
Gary Wigington-Ty Cole 31-29—60
Austin Minter-Adrian Geeting 32-30—62
Chad Watson-Nick Pollard 32-31—63
Cory Etter-Caleb Bowen 32-32—64
Janson Wilborn-Chandler Wilborn 33-31—64
Ott Chandler-Dalton Chandler 33-31—64
Ted Heim-Steve Davis 34-31—65

Championship B
Mickey Travis-Dustin Travis 33-33—66
Clay Calkins-Dustin Viehe 36-30—66
Benji Turley-Marcus Harrell 34-32—66
Andrew Brooks-Billy Thompson 33-34—67
Brandon Roberts-Caleb McKinney 33-34—67
Kevin Daugherty-Kyle Daugherty 35-32—67
Jake Goggans-Chase Hollingsworth 34-34—68
Gary Wilborn-James Ramey 33-35—68
Jeremy McGatha-Matt Rogers 35-34—69

First flight
Tim Steward-Daniel Black 36-34—70
Brad Hardin-Tim Turner 36-35—71
Jimbo Phillips-Lenn Coffey 38-34—72
Kelly Rogers-T.J. McGatha 35-39—74
John MacKenzie-Rick Dickson 37-38—75
Jimmy Jackson-Gordon Stewart 38-37—75
Dan Whitaker-Gary Thomas 37-39—76

Sunday’s tee assignments
Hole 1A – Etter-Bowen, Wilborn-Wilborn
1B – Wigington-Cole, Minter-Geeting, Watson-Pollard
2 – Chandler-Chandler, Heim-Davis
3 – Travis-Travis, Calkins-Viehe
4 – Turley-Harrell, Brooks-Thompson
5 – Roberts-McKinney, Daugherty-Daugherty
6 – Gogans-Hollingsworth, Wilborn-Ramey
7 – J. McGatha-M. Rogers, Steward-Black, Hardin-Turner
8 – Phillips-Coffey, K. Rogers-T.J. McGatha, MacKenzie-Dickson
9 – Jackson-Stewart, Whitaker-Thomas

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