E.A. Sports Today

They don’t ask how

… Just how many; second-round ACC leader Chandler saves par with on 18 with some interesting plays

Tournament leader Dalton Chandler saved par on 18 each of the first two rounds with rescue shots out of the 17th fairway. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It probably wasn’t the original architect’s intention to play the 18th hole at Anniston Country Club from the 17th fairway, but Dalton Chandler has made it his own personal playground on his way to the second-round lead in the Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational.

Not that he intended to play it that way on the tee.

Chandler made adventuresome pars on the home hole each of the first two days to save back-to-back rounds of 67 that has him one shot ahead of Gary Wigington going into Championship Sunday.

Gary Wigington is one shot off the lead going into Championship Sunday.

On Friday, the 21-year-old’s drive ran all the way down the left side that left him short yardage but a narrow window to the green. He punched a precise shot high enough to miss a low tree and low enough to miss the high hanging branch onto the green and two-putted to save par.

His drive Saturday caught a tree and shot out into the 17th fairway about 200 yards from the green. He lifted a 6-iron over the trees onto the front of the green and nearly curled in a 20-foot putt for birdie.

“I was trying to hit it down the left side and hit a cut back and just double-crossed both of them the last two days; I guess I was getting tired or something,” Chandler said. “Today’s (second) shot was easier than yesterday’s shot. I didn’t have to go through any gap; it’s hard to go through a gap.

“I told Jacob (LeCroy, his cart companion) I’m going to try a different shot tomorrow. I’ll probably make a bogey after I made pars the first two days.”
While the situation wasn’t as crucial as if it were to happen Sunday, there still was a lot on the line when Chandler addressed his second shot on 18. He had just birdied the par-5 17th to take a one-shot lead on Wigington, so there’s no telling how far he would’ve tumbled down the leaderboard with a loose swing from the 17th fairway.

But there was plenty of room for him to do something spectacular if he could pull it off.

“Anytime you have 200 yards and you’re having to hit a big high cut over a tree with a 6-iron it ain’t real easy, but I didn’t have a ceiling,” Chandler said. “I didn’t have to keep it the perfect ball flight. I just had to hit it solid and get it up in the air and it couldn’t have been too bad; I would have had a chance to make a par.”

And that wasn’t even what he considered his best shot of the tournament. That came a few holes earlier when he thought he holed out on 14 from 130 yards into the wind. The ball settled two feet from the pin – then he missed the birdie putt.

Chandler and Wigington both had four birdies and a bogey in their rounds. Besides Chandler’s rescue shot on 18, the difference in the round was Chandler birdied both par-5s and the long-hitting Wigington got neither despite being in the middle of the fairway.

Outside of not being able to take advantage of the par-5s, Wigington played an otherwise solid round in matching Chandler’s 67 for the low round of the day. The key was eliminating three-putts; he had three in Friday’s 68. He turned in 1-under, then birdied 12 and 13 to grab a share of the lead.

“I was tickled,” he said. “I usually don’t score good out here; last year was probably the best I ever scored out here (finishing second 65-70-73). But I played good, so I can’t argue with that.”

LeCroy moved into third place, three shots off the lead, with a 1-under 69. Jeremy McGatha, the 2015 champion, shot 68 to pull into fourth place at even-par 140.

Ty Cole shared the lead with Chandler entering the day and remained tied at the turn, but went backwards on the back nine. He used the putter three times or more on each of the first five holes on the side, including an official four-putt on the par-4 13th. He entered the week tied for second on the Calhoun County Golf Tour in putting and fifth in putts per greens hit in regulation.

Player 444 334 444 34 453 444 354 36 70

Chandler 444 344 334 33 443 444 344 34 67 (134)
Wigington 454 234 443 33 452 344 354 34 67 (135)
LeCroy 543 334 344 33 453 444 444 36 69 (137)
McGatha 453 434 444 35 443 344 344 33 68 (140)

Timmy Woodard lines up a putt during the second round of the Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the round go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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