E.A. Sports Today

Who’s your pick?

Dream team of Cole and Wigington, dominant players on county golf scene, considered favorites for 38th Sunny King Charity Classic

First-time Sunny King partners Ty Cole (L) and Gary Wigington, the dominant individual players on the county golf scene, are the favorites going into this year's Classic.

First-time Sunny King partners Ty Cole (L) and Gary Wigington, the dominant individual players on the county golf scene, are the favorites going into this year’s Classic.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

You put the two dominant players in the county together on three golf courses set up to give everyone in the field the most enjoyable playing experience possible and the potential is there to blow the tournament record out of the water.

Ty Cole and Gary Wigington are too humble to say it themselves, but they have to be the favorites going into next week’s 38th Sunny King Charity Classic.

How could they not? There are several strong teams in this year’s field, but consider this: Ty-and-Twig have won the last four Calhoun County Player of the Year awards and the last six Calhoun County Championships, they are 1-2 in this year’s Calhoun County Golf Tour points standings that determine the Player of the Year and have won 13 of 26 County Tour events since Cole started playing them in 2013.

It’s a dream team if ever there was one.

Ott and Dalton Chandler set the all-time tournament scoring record at 42-under-par last year while becoming the first father-son team to win the title. As long and sharp as Cole and Wigington are individually, collectively could 50-under be in the cards? Short par-5s should yield eagles in the scramble formats – the Chandlers eagled their first six last year – and they’ve been among the birdie leaders on the Calhoun County Golf Tour the last two years.

“I’m really excited about it,” Wigington said. “Since the last time Randy (Reaves) and I played I’m probably more excited this year than any of them, because I know we’ll have fun and I think we’ll play good together.

“The last couple tournaments we played really well together. I think if we play well we’ve got a good shot. He’s playing really well right now and I feel (my game) is starting to come around. Everything seems moving in the right direction. We’ll see how it goes.”

The two talked about partnering a couple years ago after Wigington’s longtime partner Reaves retired from the Classic (after winning five King titles together), but by then Cole had committed to play with Matt Rogers. Wigington went on to form another dream team with Anniston Country Club’s Freeman Fite; they tied the tournament scramble record their first round together and lost in a playoff for the title two days later. Last year they were tied for the first-round lead then finished fourth.

Wigington pitched the idea again last fall when he knew Fite was going to honor another tournament commitment. “Who wouldn’t want to play with Twig,” Cole asked, but he wanted first to make sure it was OK with his Rogers because “I wasn’t going to ruin a friendship for a golf tournament.”

Rogers gave his blessing – he eventually lined up Andrew Brooks — and the new dream team was created.

Cole and Wigington played together just for kicks in the 2015 County Two-Man at Cane Creek and tied for first, losing in a playoff to Jaylon Ellison and P.J. Shields.

They played for the first time as partners with everything geared towards the Sunny King in the Two-Man at Silver Lakes in March and finished fifth, nine shots back. They have been getting closer to the right stuff ever since, winning the rain-shortened County Four-Ball at Anniston Municipal at 17-under-par and the Cherokee County CC Two-Man Scramble at 32-under.

“It took a while to figure out what we need to do as a team,” Cole said. “What we’ve been able to do the last three or four years individually, that’s one thing, but when you talk about team golf that’s a lot different. The two-man at Silver Lakes, I don’t even count that playing-wise just because Twig plays very little in the winter and I don’t play at all, so you come back and try to team up and play in March, our games aren’t even back into form by then, and he’s trying out a new partnership on top of that.

“For what we had that week, we did OK, but we did figure out a few things we kind of capitalized on in Centre. We figured out how to talk to each other in a language we both understand what the other is talking about. The two-man at Cane Creek … we never really worried about chemistry and figured out how each other played. Now with the Sunny King, with three days with different formats, the chemistry and the language between the players, to me, becomes a bigger issue.

“Somebody like Jeremy (McGatha) and Matt (Rogers) who play in five or six tournaments a year together, they don’t really have to talk. That’s something we had to figure out.”

They do bring different approaches to the table. Wigington hits his irons higher than Cole, but Cole hits a higher driver. On the green, Wigington is a more aggressive putter, while Cole prefers to die his putts into the hole. As far as demeanors go, they couldn’t be more opposite; Wigington is reserved while Cole is much more demonstrative.

But regardless of their styles, they have developed a mutual trust to believe the other is going to pull the club and hit the shot that gives their team the best chance to make birdie or eagle whenever they step on the tee box.

“If you take our two individual games and we’re playing up to our potential we wouldn’t have to say a word to each other because the talent is there,” Cole said. “That’s the key. The tee boxes they’re playing in the Sunny King invite people to hit shots that a lot of people shouldn’t hit, but the good thing for our team is having two individual talents who can both hit those shots.”

Sunny King Classic flight sizes
(As of July 1)
Mustang (Championship) – 36 teams
Acura MDX – 27 teams
Toyota Avalon – 23 teams
Ford F-150 – 28 teams
Honda Pilot – 26 teams
Toyota Tundra – 25 teams
Toyota 4-Runner – 23 teams

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