E.A. Sports Today

Easy wears the crown

Defending champion Chandlers looking to repeat the magic that brought them a record-setting title last year

Ott Chandler (L) embraces son Dalton on the 18th green after they secured victory in the 37th annual Sunny King Charity Classic. Below, they salute the gallery coming off the green. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Ott Chandler (L) embraces son Dalton on the 18th green after they secured victory in the 37th annual Sunny King Charity Classic. Below, they salute the gallery coming off the green. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ott Chandler couldn’t imagine anything better than winning the Sunny King Charity Classic last year with his son Dalton.

Well, wait a minute. There is something.

Doing it again.

“That would be absolutely awesome there,” he said.

That acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. Dalton wants the same thing.

“I want to do it again,” he said. “I don’t want to let that be good enough. I wanted to win last year; I want to win this year, too.”

The Chandlers became the first father-son team to raise the Classic trophy when they shattered the 40-under-par barrier thought unreachable under the current scoring format and set the all-time tournament scoring record at 42-under-par 172.

It was a magical week. They eagled the first six par-5s they played in the scramble formats. They hit the 40-under mark in the middle of the back nine Sunday and kept going. They were the first winning team to shoot all three rounds in the 50s. Their final-round 59 was the best final round by a champion since Ott and Gary Wilborn did it to win the first of their back-to-back titles in 2004.

“There’s not a week that doesn’t go by somebody doesn’t bring it up,” Ott said. “It was really unbelievable, something you could write in a movie or something, something I never thought would happen but it did. It would be super to do it again, but it’s going to be really, really tough. Lightning may strike again, you never know.”

Several strong teams are expected to challenge the defending champs this week, starting with projected favorites Gary Wigington and Ty Cole. The new teammates have been the Calhoun County Player of the Year the last four years combined and are currently 1-2 in the Calhoun County Golf Tour standings. Wigington has won five King crowns.

Among the other contenders are Jeremy McGatha and Brennan Clay, whose runner-up 39-under score would have won all but last year’s modern-era tournament titles; Jaylon Ellison and P.J. Shields; 2014 champion Lance Evans and new partner Chad Calvert; and 2013 winners Garrett Burgess and Cypress Hathorn.

“Naturally, there are a bunch of other good teams, but it’s all about who plays good at the right time,” Dalton said. “You just have to all your weapons ready to go to war at the right time, I guess.”

Papa Chandler remembers how “crazy hard” it was to do what they did last year and for somebody to get to 40-under again they would have to play “really good” for all three days.

Dalton called it “freaky” the number of putts they made last year. The 10-foot par putt he made on the par-3 16th on Championship Sunday at Anniston Country Club, with a huge gallery looking on, was as big as any they made all week. It remains one of his fondest memories of the day.

“We just made so many putts,” Ott said. “We made all the putts we were supposed to and some we weren’t supposed to, and that’s what it takes in that format … but to make all those putts, it’s hard to ask to repeat that. We played really good for three days. To even tie the record was great playing, but to beat it by three shots was incredible.

“If I never won another golf tournament, to have won that with your kid it’s something you’ll never forget. If we were to get lucky and do it again that would just be crazy. Well be battling. Well be trying our best.”

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