E.A. Sports Today

Chandler wins again

Dalton Chandler finishes strong to win third County Tour title in four starts this season; with scores, player points

Talk about your power pairing. (From left) Ott Chandler, Jeremy McGatha and Gary Wigington own 15 Sunny King, 12 Calhoun County and 25 County Tour titles among them. Between 2000 and 2012 one of them had a piece of the SKCC title.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES — Dalton Chandler has learned how to win on the Calhoun County Golf Tour. On Sunday, he learned how to close.

With the course set up for some late-round fireworks, the 21-year-old aspiring pro birdied four of his last six holes after losing a lead he held all day, including three of the last four — and, most importantly, No. 18 — to win the RTJ-Silver Lakes Championship.

Chandler shot a final-round 4-under-par 68 to finish at 11-under 133 for his third win in four Calhoun County Golf Tour events. He won by a shot over three-time defending champion Ty Cole, who eagled each of the last two holes to shot the day’s best round (64). Brennan Clay birdied the last three holes in a row and four of his last five to shoot 67 and finish third (135).

Chandler won the season-opening event at Indian Oaks, finished second at Cider Ridge (losing the lead two holes from the finish), then won at Anniston CC and Sunday. He is 31-under-par in four events this season, has been in the 60s in eight of his nine Tour rounds. He extended his lead in the County Tour Player of the Year standings to 177.5 points over current No. 2 Gary Wigington.

“Today was a fight,” Chandler said. “I got to even par (on the day) after 12 holes and Jeremy (McGatha) actually had a one- or two-shot lead on me, then I heard about Bo (Hayes) and Ty (playing well) and I figured everybody had those easy holes to finish on so I figured if I didn’t start making some birdies I was never going to have a chance.”

Chandler had a four-shot lead after birdies on each of the two Mindbreaker par-5s, then the wheels stopped and Jeremy McGatha got hot and started closing the gap. A violent lip-out on a two-footer on 9 produced another bogey for Chandler and suddenly he was going to the Backbreaker with just a one-shot lead.

He lost the lead to McGatha on 11, the par-3 Backbreaker second, when his tee shot skipped into the back fringe and it took three strokes with the putter to get home while McGatha birdied. It was McGatha’s third birdie in a five-hole stretch.

Chandler regained a share of the lead with a birdie on the par-4 13th that was lengthened by some 130 yards from the day before. He then pulled away from his playing partners with birdies at 15, 16 and 18.

“This was the only tournament so far that I birdied the last hole to win,” Chandler said. “I birdied the last hole at Cider, but I lost. The other two I won I struggled on the last hole, today I made a birdie. I played good closing today. Yesterday I didn’t close worth a damn.”

Meanwhile, Gadsden’s Hayes and Cole were making a charge two groups in front of him. Hayes got within one shot of the lead — and two ahead of Cole — with an eagle on 16 (his second of the day), but Hayes parred his final two holes and Cole eventually passed him by finishing with back-to-back eagles.

The finishing stretch on Backbreaker was set up for a potential eagle-eagle-eagle finish, and the championship flight players took advantage of it. The par-5 Backbreaker 7 was playing 471 yards, the par-4 eighth at 287 (with the wind) and the closing par-5 ninth at 499. Chandler hit a 4-iron into the wind into the 18th and had a makeable eagle putt.

The Championship A flight plus Cole played the final three holes in a collective 13-under-par with 15 birdies and three eagles. The entire Championship flight produced 23 birdies and four eagles on the three holes. The rest of the field had 23 birdies and an eagle.

There were 12 rounds under par Sunday and eight in the 60s. There were 16 rounds in red numbers on Saturday, 11 in the 60s.

“You like having a shootout like this,” Clay said. “You’re still grinding, but it’s fun making birdies and having fun getting low, but you’ve got to keep pace. I shot 5-under, but I didn’t keep pace. There were a lot of putts I should’ve made. I told Andrew (Brooks) we needed to shoot 65, 66, have it (overall) in double digits, to have a chance, but I’ll take it. I’m happy with it.”

The eagles were impressive, but Cole would have preferred a little better luck with his putter. He hit all 18 greens in regulation and played without making a bogey, but he had only four birdies with those chances and 31 putts. He drove the green on 17 and hit driver-hybrid from 230 to reach 18 in 2. He had the right club to hit the green on 16, just didn’t pull off the shot and settled for a par.

“You make eagle-eagle basically to back door into second,” Cole said. “I feel like the way I hit it this week, I may not have won, but I would feel better about it being in the last group. I hit 34 greens and it’s not like I’m hitting it 30 feet, either; I’m hitting it 10 feet every hole – and make nothing. I had my chances; when you hit 34 greens you have your chances. I just didn’t putt very good and he (Chandler) wins again.”

Cole’s eagle-eagle finish prevented Lewis LeCroy’s career round from becoming the best round of the day. LeCroy shot 7-under 65 with eight birdies and a bogey and won the first flight. He played the Backbreaker in 5-under, making birdie on each of the last three holes.

He also shot 65 in the first round of last year’s Calhoun County Tournament at Anniston Municipal, but that was only 5-under par. Ironically, he almost withdrew before Sunday’s round, but thought better of it.

“It was just one of those days,” said LeCroy, whose son Jacob finished third in Championship B. “I almost turned around and went home. Lance (Evans) was paired with me and didn’t come. I made myself come. I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want Jacob to see that.”

Lewis LeCroy won the first flight after shooting a career-best 65 Sunday.

Championship flight A
Dalton Chandler 65-68—133
Brennan Clay 68-67—135
Bo Hayes 69-67—136
Jeremy McGatha 67-69—136
Gary Wigington 67-71—138
Chad Calvert 68-70—138
Ott Chandler 68-71—139
Logan Archer 69-73—142
Josh Jackson 68-77—145
Timmy Woodard 69-78—147
Andrew Brooks 69-79—148

Championship flight B
Ty Cole 70-64—134
Michael Watson 70-68—138
Jacob Lecroy 71-73—144
Adrian Geeting 73-73—146
Matt Rogers 72-75—147
Tanner Roberts 70-77—147
Kenny Wright 71-77—148
Charlie Thomas 72-77—149
Ryan Huff 74-76—150
Keith Raisanen 74-77—151
Casey Harmon 74-80—154

Player 534 354 444 36 434 434 545 36 72

Dalton 444 343 445 35 444 333 444 33 68 (133)
Cole 434 344 344 33 434 334 523 31 64 (134)
Clay 534 354 443 35 425 424 434 32 67 (135)

First flight
Lewis Lecroy 77-65—142
Layton Bussey 75-69—144
Clay Calkins 76-70—146
Brent Ludwig 76-73—149
Caleb Bowen 77-74—151
Blake Gilchrist 76-76—152
Clayton Chandler 78-75—153
Andrew McDonald 79-75—154
Frank Brady 76-80—156
David Kyatt 77-80—157
Austin Minter 78-79—157
Chase Hollingsworth 77-81—158
Tyler Jackson 78-81—159
Alan Darnell 78-83—161
Jeff Bain 79-82—161
Chase Thomas 76-89—165
Corey Ray 75-WD
AJ Milwee 76-WD
Lance Evans 78-WD

Second flight
Luke Armstrong 82-75—157
Daniel Black 80-78—158
Billy Thompson 83-75—158
Tanner Wells 80-79—159
David Sanders 85-75—160
Benji Turley 83-79—162
Al Young 84-79—163
Andrew Miller 84-82—166
Kaine Gibson 85-82—167
Don Hill 85-87—172
Chad Reavis 85-WD

Third flight
Cameron McCareeth 90-79—169
Marty Branson 91-83—174
Ritchie White 87-89—176
Allen Mangham 92-85—177
Jeremy Cline 93-85—178
Dilion Davis 103-81—184
Kelly Rogers 102-102—204
Cody Roberts 105-102—207
Curtis Barker 92-WD

Dalton Chandler 1150
Gary Wigington 872.5
Jeremy McGatha 785
Andrew Brooks 757.5
Chad Calvert 717.5
Ty Cole 675
Matt Rogers 650
Brennan Clay 585
Clay Calkins 522.5
Caleb McKinney 515
Billy Thompson 507.5
Jonathan Pate 502.5
Adrian Geeting 487.5
Kevin Daugherty 415
Jeremy Willis 412.5
Kenny Wright 380
Jason Brinkley 370
Logan Archer 350
Tanner Wells 335
Chris Cox 327.5
Caleb Bowen 325
Grant Hockman 322.5
Chase Hollingsworth 305
Chad Reavis 300
Austin Minter 300
Layton Bussey 292.5
Janson Wilborn 285
Kelly Rogers 272.5
Frank Brady 255
Casey Harmon 227.5
Chad Watson 207.5
Rob VanGorder 200
Luke Armstrong 197.5
Scott Martin 165
Chip Howell 162.5
Clinton Ramey 160
Brad Hardin 160
Casey McGinnis 147.5
Landon Straub 147.5
Chance Harris 140
Tim Turner 117.5
Dan McClellan 95
Walt Drake 95
Chris Maye 87.5
Brandon Roberts 75

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