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Cole makes County Tour debut and lands on the top of the leaderboard in the Oxford City Championship

Brennan Clay (L) gets a chuckle out of Jeremy McGatha’s story during the Oxford City Championship; both are in the championship flight. On the cover, Ty Cole (seated) and Gary Wigington check scorecards after moving atop the leaderboard. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Ty Cole doesn’t believe he’ll ever have a run like he did last year winning nine events in a row, but he’s off to a good start.

Cole played his first individual stroke play round of the Calhoun County Golf Tour season Saturday and was in a familiar spot when it was over.

He shot a 5-under-par 67 to grab the opening-round lead in the Oxford City Championship at Cider Ridge Golf Club. He leads another familiar front-runner, Gary Wigington, by one. Jake Goggans is another shot back in solo third. Five players, including Indian Oaks winner Dalton Chandler, are tied at 70.

Last year Cole went through a stretch in which he won six straight individual tournaments – three on the County Tour – and three two-man events; he was a combined 54-under-par in the individual wins. He teamed with Wigington to win the Calhoun County Two-Man at Silver Lakes in March.

Cole’s round Saturday started smartly. He nearly holed a sand wedge from 30 yards for eagle on the first hole. He came close again on No. 7. He had four birdies, a bogey and an eagle from off the green on 15.

“If I’d have hit it like I did last year I would have shot 10 (under),” he said. “I really didn’t hit it all that good, but I got it on the greens and probably had five putts I left right in the middle short. … I felt like I shot 74.”

Wigington bounced back from a rough showing at Indian Oaks to play bogey-free with two birdies on each side. He hit 13 fairways and 13 greens and had 28 putts. He got up-and-down for par on all five greens he missed.

Goggans pulled into third with the help of three birdies on his last five holes. The only blemish on the finish stretch was missing a three-footer for par on 16, but he came back with a 20-footer for birdie on 17 and lipped out for birdie on 18.

“It’s my home course so I play better here,” he said. “Three of the last five can take a boring round to a good round quick.”

Clay grabbed a share of fourth with the best back nine of the day, a 4-under 32 that featured birdies on three of his last four holes. He put the side together after making a double bogey at the par-5 ninth.

Ty Cole 34-33—67
Gary Wigington 34-34—68
Jake Goggans 35-34—69
Brennan Clay 38-32—70
Rob VanGorder 36-34—70
Andrew Brooks 34-36—70
Caleb Bowen 35-35—70
Dalton Chandler 34-36—70

Jake Goggans enters the final round in third place after a 3-under 69 that featured birdies on three of his last five holes.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Oxford City Championship, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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