E.A. Sports Today

Cole finds groove

Defending champion ‘found a little something’ to help his putting, opens four-shot lead in Gadsden Invitational after carding a smooth 63

By East Alabama Sports Today

GADSDEN — Ty Cole is getting the old feeling back. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Cole went to Gadsden Country Club a couple days this week after work to work on his game and “figured out a little something” to help his putting. He put that feeling to the test Friday and shot 8-under-par 63 to lead championship qualifying for the Gadsden CCC Invitational.

The defending champion shot 30 on the back nine to complete what may have tied the tournament record and open a four-shot lead over Birmingham dentist Vic Kyatt III and Corey Ray, a Gadsden CC member from Boaz. Clay Guerin of Birmingham, last year’s runner-up, was another shot back.

Cole had seven birdies, one eagle and one bogey, and missed a 10-foot birdie on 18 or could have gone deeper. He shot 65 in the second round here last year on the way to a six-shot victory that was part of his nine-tournament winning streak.

“Luke (Armstrong) and I went out there a couple days this week after work and I started hitting it better,” Cole said. “I figured out a little something on my putting.

“I haven’t been putting at all from the time I was starting back from the winter, but I figured out something that feels more like it did last year. It’s nothing technical. It’s the way I hold the putter in my hand and the feeling I have in my hand when I’m stroking the putt. I’m kind of getting back in the groove of being able to hit putts where I’m looking with good speed. Now it’s a matter if I’m going to read it right.”

Cole made his lone bogey on No. 2, but bounced right back with a birdie at 3 and added two more at 6 and 7 to turn in 2-under-par. On the back nine he birdied 10, eagled 12 and dropped birdies at 14, 16 and 17. He hit 17 greens.

“When we finished Luke looked over and said that’s about as bad as you could have shot,” Cole said. “I didn’t miss any short putts, didn’t do anything stupid. I hit it to 15 feet and if I didn’t make it, it was a foot. I’m not saying it could’ve been better, but it wasn’t going to be any worse.”

Forty-two players attempted to qualify for the championship field and 24 made the cut. The others will return to the players flights that begin Saturday. Fifty-six players in all have entered the tournament.

One of the last players to make the cut was Oxford’s Austin Minter and he got in under the wire by shooting 4-under-par 32 on the back nine with a birdie on the tough uphill par-4 18th.
Rain is expected to hit the area this weekend but tournament officials are determined to have a Sunday finish.

“We want to definitely try to finish it,” Gadsden CC director of golf Matt Ganshaw said. “If there are some delays we’re going to try to stick it out.”

STATE SENIOR: Scot Schroder of Hartselle fired a 5-under-par 67 to grab a one-shot lead over David Head of Sterrett after the first round of the 20th Alabama State Senior Amateur at Hoover Country Club.

Three players on the Calhoun County Golf Tour are in the field. Scott Martin of Ohatchee is T-31 after a 77, Clay Calkins of Jacksonville is T-38 after a 78 and Chip Howell of Anniston is T-46 after a 79.

Martin and Calkins are T-15 and T-20, respectively, in the 50-56 age division. Howell is T-25 in the 57-64 division.

Head (No. 12) and Wayne Gardner of Mobile (No. 5) scored holes-in-one in the round.

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