E.A. Sports Today

Generation gap

UPDATED: Cole, Chandler top a crowded Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational leaderboard that features two generations of players

First-round co-leader Ty Cole talks with Kevin Daugherty during a break in the action Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It’s only the first round and there’s a lot more golf to play this weekend but the Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational is shaping up to be a battle between the old guard and new blood in Calhoun County golf.

Four players are separated by one shot after Friday’s championship flight qualifying round at Anniston County Club and they’re separated by a generation.

Ty Cole, 41, and Dalton Chandler, 21, are tied at the top after posting 3-under-par 67s. One shot back are Gary Wigington, 47, and 17-year-old rising Donoho junior Jacob LeCroy. They were the only players who posted red numbers on the day.

“Say me and LeCroy have a side bet with them tomorrow,” Chandler said with a laugh, then turning serious added “we’ve got a bunch of good older players in this community.”

Among those chasing the leaders, Timmy Woodard played his best round ever at ACC, a 71, to pull into fifth, and seven-time champion Freeman Fite and 2015 champion Jeremy McGatha are another shot back at 72.

Chandler picked up most of his strokes on the front nine. He was 3-under through seven holes and was in position to get to 4-under at 8, but lipped out a six-footer for birdie and that stopped his momentum.

He had to make a dicey 12-footer for par on the gettable 11th and gave a shot back with a three-putt bogey on 16, but picked it back up with a birdie at 17 after hitting the first of back-to-back tired drives left off the final two tees.

“I know both of them were bad shots, but neither one of them were very far away from being good shots,” he said. “I actually hit it so far left on 18 I had a shot. I hit a world-beater shot on 18. I had a gap of about (two feet) over a tree and luckily I got lucky and did it.”

Cole, coming in fresh off a win at the Gadsden Invitational, did his damage on the back, specifically the odd-numbered holes. He turned in 1-over after a bogey on the inviting seventh and missing three makeable birdie putts, and then made an eagle at 11 and birdies on 13, 15 and 17. He bogeyed 14.

“I’m odd,” he said. “I played the back like I’ve been playing, like those couple of days in Gadsden. I hit it good. I made some putts. The front, I hit it good, I don’t know if I was just adjusting to the greens, I don’t know what it was. To be honest, I hit it just as good on the front as I did on the back other than the tee ball on 7 that cost me at least one stroke hitting it over there right.”

He made up for it with the eagle on 11. He ripped a 4-iron from 240 yards to the back of the green, then made a long sweeping putt that fell into the cup on its final roll.

LeCroy got off to a fast start with birdies at 3 and 5. He was 2-under in the ninth fairway, airmailed his approach shot over the green, pitched too far and three-putted for a double bogey to turn in even par.

Actually, a “good bogey” on 15 was the turning point in his round. The 5, which could have been worse after he found himself under a tree off the tee and over the green with his approach, brought him back to even par. But he bounced back with birdies at 16 and 17 – barely missing his eagle putt at the par-5 — to finish with what at the time was a four-shot lead.

“I could have made a big number there; that was a key hole,” he said of 15. “Once I made bogey right there I knew I was supposed to not make any more big numbers if I played good the rest of the way, at least that’s what I thought.”

Wigington joined the clubhouse lead with an eagle and two birdies in his final five holes. Birdies on 13 and 15 took him under-par for the round, but a three-putt bogey on 16 brought him back to even. He bounced back on the par-5 17th by draining a 20-foot eagle putt with four feet of break to tie LeCroy, 30 years his junior.

While on the subject of ages, Cole will be paired with Chandler and LeCroy Saturday. The reigning Calhoun County Player of the Year will be older than the his two playing companions combined.

Player 444 334 444 34 453 444 354 36 70

Chandler 443 234 344 31 453 444 444 36 67
Cole 444 433 544 35 433 353 344 32 67
Wigington 453 434 434 34 454 343 434 34 68
LeCroy 443 324 446 34 443 454 244 34 68

Jacob LeCroy held the early lead after posting a 2-under-par 68. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

On the cover: First-round co-leader Dalton Chandler follows the line of his putt on the 10th green Friday. To view a gallery of photos from Friday’s round, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com and click on the golf file

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