E.A. Sports Today

Making it interesting

Cole overcomes an off day on the course and some self-inflicted anxiety to win his first County Tour event of the season

Medalist Ty Cole (L) checks out the golf bag presented by Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch for winning the flight winners playoff in the Pro-Invitational Sunday.

Medalist Ty Cole (L) checks out the golf bag presented by Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch for winning the flight winners playoff in the Pro-Invitational Sunday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There’s never a dull moment on the golf course when Ty Cole is playing.

The reigning Calhoun County Tour Player of the Year overcame four bogeys and the prospect of a tournament-altering penalty in the middle of his round to win the amateur segment of the Fort McClellan Credit-Union Pro Invitational.

Cole shot 3-over-par 75 Sunday at Cane Creek Golf Course for a three-day 3-under 213 and parred the final to hole to win by a shot over new Sunny King Charity Classic partner Gary Wigington and two over Jeremy McGatha.

He also won the net playoff of flight winners on the third hole to take home all the hardware associated with the amateur side of the event. The heavyweight-championship-style belt that signifies the tournament medalist should be an interesting conversation starter in his Asbury High School history classroom where most of his trophies get displayed.

It was his first win on the County Tour this season and seventh since joining the Tour in 2013. It moved him into second place in this year’s season points standings behind Wigington.

“I had nothing today,” Cole said. “I didn’t hit it good. I didn’t putt it good. I just literally survived.

“I was just lucky I had played good enough the first two days to build up a little bit of a lead to where unless somebody just did something really spectacular I could be in the mix.”

Jimmy Brandt went wire-to-wire to win the pro division. He shot even par 72 Sunday and finished at 8-under 208, three shots better than former Jacksonville State assistant coach Neal Grusczynski.

Cole went into the round with a four-shot lead and never actually lost it, although it got close several times.

For about 45 minutes on the back nine it was uncertain where the leaders stood. Cole anticipated being assessed a penalty for flinging his club in anger into the ninth-hole greenside bunker where his ball lay after a bad approach. It was a good throw, too, from some 75 yards.

Tournament officials reached out to PGA of America rules chairman Ron Hickman, already on the grounds at Oakmont for this week’s U.S Open, for a ruling and were told there was no violation. Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch personally met Cole’s game on the 13th tee to deliver the decision.

It was Rule 13-4 exception 1-b. A similar club drop — not throw — in a bunker came into question for Russell Knox at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. There was no intent to improve his position and the club did not make contact with the ball or cause it to move.

Before Szuch met the group, Cole played in The Hollow as if the two-stroke penalty was in effect and he was tied with McGatha for the lead. After he bogeyed the 10th, McGatha played with the mindset of being three shots behind.

By the time they came back across the street to play the home stretch, the potential penalty was moot but the lead over McGatha had thinned to one shot.

Cole said he almost wished there were a penalty for the lesson in anger management it would teach him.

“That’s a learning less for me — to quit acting like an idiot, because that’s all that is, being an idiot,” he said. “It’s stupid. Why are you throwing clubs? You’re 40 years old, quit acting like an idiot.

“At the end of the day I almost wish I would have gotten a penalty because it would have taught me a valuable lesson, because I would have lost by one.”

Curiously, with the penalty on his mind he hit a decent ball off 10 tee and made par, then when Szuch gave him the all-clear he hit it wildly off the tee. That’s just the way the day went.

“I just hit it everywhere today,” he said. “I just had nothing today. The first two days I hit good enough to where my scores (69-69) were actually bad for the way I hit it and today the way I hit it was about what I scored.”

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