E.A. Sports Today

Chandler leads Silver Lakes

UPDATED: Points leader shoots bogey-free 65 to open two-shot lead, looking to grab third County Tour win

Gary Wigington stands by as Dalton Chandler lines up his eagle putt on the final hole Saturday. Wigington had an eagle putt of similar length on the hole. Both made birdie.

If he had my short game he’d be out there because he hits that ball way better than any of us. He drove the ball last weekend as good as anybody who breathes air.

– Ott Chandler on son Dalton’s plan to play pro golf

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES — Dalton Chandler still has plans to turn professional in the near future, but it’s looking now like that decision will be a little later rather than sooner.

In the meantime he continues to dominate the Calhoun County Golf Tour.

After a blistering start on a soggy day, Chandler shot a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 Saturday and held a two-shot lead after the opening round of the RTJ-Silver Lakes Championship.

The 21-year-old told East Alabama Sports Today after his season-opening win at Indian Oaks it was his plan to turn professional this year. At the time it seemed that the decision would come at the end of the season, perhaps as soon as the final putt of the 81st Calhoun County Tournament, but Saturday he suggested it might be more towards the start of next year.

“I’m just going to wait to the perfect time,” he said.

Chandler’s father, Ott, who celebrated his 53rd birthday Saturday with a 68, encourages his son’s pro pursuit. But instead of Dalton cutting his teeth chasing checks on the various mini-tours around the South, he’d rather see him “shoot for the gusto” and jump right into the qualifying gauntlet for perhaps an entrée into the Web.com or other major developmental tour.

“The only way he’s going to get better is go play those guys who shoot 7-8-9 under every day,” Ott said. “It makes me proud (what he’s done so far), because I tried to get him to play golf when he was little and he wouldn’t play. He didn’t play golf until he was 15, so he’s only been at it like six years.

“He’s always hit that driver good but he’d make that one 8 or one 9 that would just take him out of the tournament, where now those 8s and 9s are 4s and 3s. He’s only gonna get better. One day he’s gonna go out there and shoot 59 or 60 on us; it would not shock me. If he had my short game he’d be out there … because he hits that ball way better than any of us. He drove the ball last weekend as good as anybody who breathes air.”

Dalton was on pace for a Tour record round Saturday, turning in 31 and getting to 6-under after a 20-foot birdie putt to open what he considered the easier Backbreaker side. He didn’t make another birdie, though, until his final hole, the par-5 Backbreaker ninth. His best round on the Calhoun Tour this year came with 31; still, it was his seventh round in the 60s of eight on the Calhoun County Golf Tour this year.

“It wasn’t that I stopped hitting it good,” he said. “I had a few times better things could’ve happened.

“I played like burning hell on the front nine, the Mindbreaker, and I thought that was the harder side. This other side I think it’s easier and I messed it up.”

He didn’t make one after a good drive and second shot on 15, three-putted on 16 for par and missed a five-footer on 17. He did salvage a par on Backbreaker 4, a drivable par-4, after plugging in the hazard behind the green with a 3-wood off the tee and taking a drop.

He currently holds a two-shot lead over Gary Wigington and Jeremy McGatha. Four others – his dad, former Silver Lakes pro Brennan Clay, Chad Calvert and Josh Jackson – all were another shot back. The Chandlers are paired in the final group Championship Sunday.

McGatha was on target for a big round, too. He also turned in 5-under and was 7-under through 15 holes, but dropped shots with bogeys at 16 and 17, and hit a 3-wood over the green with his second shot on Backbreaker 9 and settled for par.

“I really, honestly, should have been 7 (under) after 11; I stuck in on 10 and 11, easy putts, too,” McGatha said. “Then when I birdied 13 and 15 to get to 7 I said OK, I’ve got two par-5s (to get more), and then it was typical Jeremy BS.”

He three-putted Mindbreaker 7 after hitting the par-5 green in regulation and three-putted the next hole from the fringe.

Chase Hollingsworth got his day off to a great start. He scored a double-eagle 2 on Mindbreaker No. 1, his first hole of the day, when he holed out a 5-iron from 203 yards. It’s the second albatross scored by a CCGT player in the history of the Tour. Jaylon Ellison made the first, on 14 at Cane Creek in the first round of the 2010 County Tournament.

Double eagles are said to be more rare than holes-in-one. Hollingsworth has never made an ace.

“We didn’t see it go in,” he said. “It looked real good, though. I knew it landed in the middle.”

The tournament has become something of an additional practice round for the upcoming Sunny King Charity Classic. The SKCC plays its scramble round at Silver Lakes – on the same nines being used this weekend – so it give those playing the tournament an early look at the sides under competitive conditions.

The event traditionally had been played early in the County Tour schedule, but was moved to June, a couple weeks before the Classic, in 2012 to give SKCC players a look at all the renovations that took place following 2011 tornado prior to the tournament and has remained strategically placed ever since.

“I hope it’s beneficial,” Silver Lakes director of golf Jason Callan said.

It was to Daniel Black. He has played a limited number of rounds this season, hasn’t played Silver Lakes since last year’s Sunny King and hasn’t played the Backbreaker nine since it was last played in the Classic in 2015.

“I’m in the middle of trying to find a little bit of a golf game and see the course,” Black said. “I’ll be honest, the only reason I’m playing is I don’t want to let my partner (Jeff Bain) down. I want to be as good as I can be for when we team up for the Sunny King. I’ve just got a get a look at it and see what we’re up against.”

Championship Flight A
Dalton Chandler 31-34—65
Gary Wigington 33-34—67
Jeremy McGatha 31-36—67
Brennan Clay 34-34—68
Ott Chandler 34-34—68
Chad Calvert 35-33—68
Josh Jackson 34-34—68
Timmy Woodard 36-33—69
Bo Hayes 34-35—69
Andrew Brooks 36-33—69
Logan Archer 34-35—69

Championship B
Tanner Roberts 35-35—70
Ty Cole 35-35—70
Michael Watson 34-36—70
Kenny Wright 37-34—71
Jacob LeCroy 36-35—71
Matt Rogers 36-36—72
Charlie Thomas 36-36—72
Adrian Geeting 40-33—73
Keith Raisanen 37-37—74
Ryan Huff 36-38—74
Casey Harmon 39-35—74

First flight
Corey Ray 38-37—75
Layton Bussey 35-40—75
Chase Thomas 40-36—76
Frank Brady 38-38—76
AJ Milwee 39-37—76
Clay Calkins 37-39—76
Blake Gilchrist 40-36—76
Brent Ludwig 38-38—76
Lewis LeCroy 38-39—77
Chase Hollingsworth 40-37—77
Caleb Bowen 39-38—77
David Kyatt 39-38—77
Lance Evans 38-40—78
Austin Minter 40-38—78
Clayton Chandler 38-40—78
Tyler Jackson 42-36—78
Alan Darnell 43-35—78
Jeff Bain 37-42—79
Andrew McDonald 40-39—79

Second flight
Tanner Wells 39-41—80
Daniel Black 42-38—80
Luke Armstrong 40-42—82
Billy Thompson 40-43—83
Benji Turley 40-43—83
Al Young 42-42—84
Andrew Miller 43-41—84
David Sanders 43-42—85
Kaine Gibson 40-45—85
Don Hill 45-40—85
Chad Reavis 41-44—85

Third flight
Ritchie White 43-44—87
Cameron McCareeth 44-46—90
Marty Branson 44-47—91
Allen Mangham 47-45—92
Curtis Barker 46-46—92
Jeremy Cline 47-46—93
Kelly Rogers 54-48—102
Dilion Davis 49-54—103
Cody Roberts 50-55—105

Sunday pairings
7:30 a.m. – Kelly Rogers, Curtis Barker, Marty Branson
7:40 – Allen Mangham, Dilion Davis, Cody Roberts
7:50 – Ritchie White, Cameron McCareeth, Jeremy Cline
8:10 – David Sanders, Kaine Gibson, Don Hill, Chad Reavis
8:20 – Billy Thompson, Benji Turley, Al Young, Andrew Miller
8:30 – Andrew McDonald, Tanner Wells, Daniel Black, Luke Armstrong
8:40 – Alan Darnall, Clayton Chandler, Tyler Jackson, Jeff Bain
8:50 – Lewis LeCroy, Chase Thomas, Lance Evans, Austin Minter
9:00 – Clay Calkins, Caleb Bowen, Brent Ludwig, Chase Hollingsworth
9:10 – Frank Brady, AJ Milwee, David Kyatt, Blake Gilchrist
9:20 – Keith Raisanen, Casey Harmon, Layton Bussey, Corey Ray
9:30 – Matt Rogers, Charlie Thomas, Adrian Geeting, Ryan Huff
9:40 – Tanner Roberts, Michael Watson, Kenny Wright, Jacob LeCroy
9:50 – Timmy Woodard, Logan Archer, Bo Hayes, Ty Cole
10:10 – Brennan Clay, Chad Calvert, Josh Jackson, Andrew Brooks
10:20 – Dalton Chandler, Gary Wigington, Jeremy McGatha, Ott Chandler

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