E.A. Sports Today

Ty & Twig for the win

First-time partners picked in poll to win a tightly contested Sunny King Charity Classic

First-time Sunny King partners Ty Cole (L) and Gary Wigington are the fan favorites going into this year's Classic.

First-time Sunny King partners Ty Cole (L) and Gary Wigington are the fan favorites going into this year’s Classic.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The players and fans have spoken. In a vote as close as the tournament is expected to be, Ty Cole and Gary Wigington will step on the first tee at Silver Lakes Friday formally installed as the tournament favorites.

The first-time Classic partners — the top players on the Calhoun County Golf Tour each of the last four years — pulled in 138 votes, edging last year’s runner-ups Jeremy McGatha and Brennan Clay by two. Defending champions Ott and Dalton Chandler were third, another vote back.

Calhoun County Two-Man champs Caleb Bowen and Cory Etter were fourth, well ahead of the remaining three voting options – 2013 winners Cypress Hathorn-Garrett Burgess, Chad Calvert and 2014 winner Lance Evans, and four-time winner Jaylon Ellison and P.J. Shields.

“It feels good people think that way and I feel good about it, but we’re going to have to go out there and play real good,” Wigington said. “Favorites don’t always win; they still have to go out and perform. We’re both hitting it pretty good and we feel good about it, but we’ll see what happens.

“A poll is a poll – it ain’t going out there and doing it. Still, it’s nice they feel like we are the favorites.”

The race for a favorite was tight throughout. Early on Bowen and Etter jumped to a nice lead and at one point there was dead-heat among the top four.

Cole and Wigington woke up Thursday morning to an overwhelming lead, but it should be noted there was about a four-and-a-half period overnight Wednesday when they picked up more than 1,000 votes from a rogue IP address in Florida. Those votes were voided and the race returned to a too-close-to-call status.

Second favorite McGatha and Clay finished second last year despite posting one of the lowest scores in tournament history. They got off to the best 36-hole start in the tournament’s modern era and their 39-under 175 would have won all but one other Classic title. Instead, it was three shots behind the all-time record of 42-under shot by the Chandlers.

McGatha, a four-time Classic champ, agreed Cole and Wigington “are going to be hard to beat,” and projects four to six teams will be battling for the title in the end. His hope is to be right in the middle of it.

“My first college golf coach always said you can’t win on the first day but you sure can lose it,” he said. “We need to get out there tomorrow and not lose it. We need to get a good score in and see what happens Saturday because if you don’t start off fast it’s hard to catch up.”

SKCC FAVORITES POLL RESULTS
Ty Cole-Gary Wigington 138
Jeremy McGatha-Brennan Clay 136
Ott Chandler-Dalton Chandler 135
Caleb Bowen-Cory Etter 115
Cypress Hathorn-Garrett Burgess 31
Chad Calvert-Lance Evans 30
PJ Shields-Jaylon Ellison 29

Jeremy McGatha (L) and Brennan Clay finished second in the fan poll. The 39-under-par they shot in finishing second last year would've won all but two of the previous Classics.

Jeremy McGatha (L) and Brennan Clay finished second in the fan poll. The 39-under-par they shot in finishing second last year would’ve won all but two of the previous Classics.



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