E.A. Sports Today

Taking flight

There are 204 teams in the Sunny King field and everyone watches the championship flight, but when you break it down, the Classic is really seven tournaments rolled into one

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By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There may be 204 teams in this year’s Sunny King Charity Classic, but if you think about it, the largest charity tournament in the Southeast is really seven tournaments rolled into one.

The championship flight gets most of the attention, but the field is divided into flights based on the lowest handicap of the teammates. And while teams have been known to move up and given a chance to contend for the overall championship after a big start, each flight is a tournament unto itself.

This year the field is broken up into seven flights, each named for lines offered by title sponsor King Automotive Group. So, while the winners of the championship flight will hoist the trophy come Sunday in effect there will be seven champions crowned in this year’s Classic.

The tournament starts Friday at Silver Lakes, Cider Ridge Golf Club and Anniston Country Club.

The Ford Mustang championship flight has the most teams – 37 – and will be split into A and B divisions during the weekend. The other flights will have between 24 and 30 teams, play by the same set of rules, and fight it out among themselves for the same glory with just as much intensity.

“After we come off the course on Friday we always look at the championship flight and say those guys are great, the same way you look at guys shooting a low number on the PGA Tour, but to us it’s a moot point; we’re just trying to beat the guys in our flight,” said Jackson Bonner, a tournament veteran from Clay County who has won the second flight twice and played in every flight from the fifth on up. “You get tunnel vision. You don’t care about anybody in front or behind you; you just worry about the guys in your flight.

“Although our names will never been on that trophy and you’ll never get to come into the same type of ovation (as the championship flight players at ACC on Sunday), to us winning your flight matters and it feels the exact same way as having your name on that trophy. I don’t know about the guys in the fourth or fifth (flight), even when we played in those flight, but I can’t imagine it feeling much different winning it in the championship flight than winning it in your own flight.”

The competition in all the flights is keen. The teams in the fifth flight might not be able to keep up with the championship flight guys on the scoreboard, but that doesn’t stop them from going after their title as hard as the scratch players.

Gary Wigington and Ty Cole won the championship flight by eight shots last year, but none of the other flights were decided by more than three shots. Two of the flights went down to a scorecard playoff, making for some intense scoreboard watching in the final hours on Sunday afternoon.

“You can’t watch any closer,” said Chase Thomas, who won the second flight last year with Ryan Huff. “Huff is on it constantly – where we are in our flight, who’s left to come in, what kind of golfers they are. I look at all the leaderboards and see how they’re playing, but we’re focused no doubt 100 percent what’s going on in my flight more than anything. What else are you playing for if you only played for the championship flight?”

2016 Flight Winners
(margin in parenthesis)
Championship – Ty Cole-Gary Wigington (8)
Championship B – Blake Mozley-Clint Compton (1)
First – Jim Reed-Dwight Bostick (2)
Second — Ryan Huff-Chase Thomas (PO)
Third – Joey Rutherford-Craig Rutherford (3)
Fourth – Chad Humphries-Anthony Humphries (PO)
Fifth – Chad Schmeling-Henry Pritchett (1)
Sixth – Bryan Lipham-Pete Mackey (3)

2017 SKCC Flight Lineup
(Ford Mustang) – 37 teams

Ryan Huff-Chase Thomas
Alan Smedley-Josh Ashley
Ty Cole-Gary Wigington (defending champions)
Scott Murphree-Eric Messer
Scott Martin-Brett Rothwell
Cory Etter-Caleb Bowen
Keaton Stanfield-Clayton Chandler
Bobby Dillon-Rusty Whitlow
Brennan Clay-Jeremy McGatha
Jake Nichols-Randy Lipscomb
Christian Fulda-Tim Fulmer
Caleb McKinney-Jansen Wilborn
Mike Lewis-Michael Lee
Keith Raisanen Jr-Greg Harrelson
Jono Waugh-Chance Harris
Chad Calvert-Cris Smith
Jackson King-Tyler Huckaby
Guy Bradley-Andrew Tyson
Jeff Bain-Daniel Black
Adrian Geeting-Kenny Wright
Chase Hollingsworth-Tanner Wells
Ott Chandler-Dalton Chandler (2015 champions)
Rob Davie-Jake Goggans
Kevin Daughtery-Brian Woodfin
Dustin Viehe-Corey Grantham
Lance Evans-Chandler Wilborn
Harrison Hughston-Mike Hughston
Logan Archer-Randy Archer
Paul Bender-Jason Williamson
Rick Okins-Kenneth Okins
Brian Macoy-Benji Turley
Andrew Brooks-Matt Rogers
P.J. Shields-Jaylon Ellison
Garrett Burgess-Cypress Hathorn (2013 champions)
Trey Hanvey-Jerry Irwin
Richard Gibson-Randy Reaves
Andrew Miller-Lexee Cunningham

First flight
(Acura MDX) – 29 teams

Tyler Romine-Jason Romine
Josh Leow-Scott Jackson
Clay Calkins-George Calkins
Timmy Woodard-Tim Steward
Steve Horne-Leon Rutherford
Wayne Parker-Jonathan Bennett
Hank Smith-Charlie Smith
Matt Hunter-Brett Key
Shane Lilly-Bob Tracy
Rob Svensen-Jimmy Ulrey
Charlie Estes-Bruce Collins
Greg Shultz-Scott Shultz
David Marcoullier-Vernon Marcoullier
Jake Coldiron-Warren Askew
Cal Munroe-Jake Munroe
Ted Towns-Drue Snow
Mike Shook-Nick Pope
Tyler Dopson-Josh Hicks
Charlie Robinson-Jon Clements
Chris Hubbard-Nick Hubbard
Nathan Russell-Doug Gardner
Daniel Guthrie-Daniel Clonts
Kevin Garnett-Casey Harmon
Grant Jackson-Jackson Bonner
Chad Jones-Jeff Sims
Kory Oliver-Brad Edmondson
John Harpe-Paul Rowell
Matthew Overton-Marshall Ghee
Jeff Noah-Kenny Fulmer

Second flight
(Toyota Avalon) – 28 teams

Ryan Abernathy-John Lindsey
Donald Harper-Jimmy Ray
Johnathon Shatus-Phil Boozer
Randy Liles-Tom Liles
Joey Rutherford-Craig Rutherford
Cody Stewart-Logan Craft
Ethan Johnson-Steve Johnson
Tyler Putnam-Mike Putnam
Brandon Cassady-Randy Young
Billy Thompson-Steve Akers
Matt Sawyer-Spence Wise
Morgan Cunningham-Kevin Third
Josh Gardner-Alan Mange
Mike Ginn-Cliff Leatherwood
Chris Coss-Vince Grasser
Nate Pearce-Chad Moore
Chad Watson-Joshua Gaines
Jordan Evans-Tim Evans
Craig Dunn-Jeff Williams
Brad Thelen-Kent Crouch
Brandon Roberts-Trey Stone
Trae Williams-Matt Peters
Scott Brasher-Larry Howard
Bill Wakefield-Minton Edwards
Ross Svensen-Jack Svensen
Brad Baird-Daily Thomas
Layne Dyar-Kyle Morrow
Jared Waits-Danny Shears

Third flight
(Ford F-150) – 29 teams

Mark Dudley-Kurt Dudley
Dilion Davis-Tyler Davis
Josh Reynolds-Bart Smith
Aaron Gregerson-Ted Gregerson
William Close-Lyndale Franklin
Jeff Deheve-Kyle Dudley
Terry Cobb-Michael Ray
Taylor O’Connor-John Bryan O’Connor
John Michael Herndon-Tony Strickland
Steve Rogers-Jerry Mills
Andy Carden-Kelly Cleghorn
Jeff Hansek-Scott Knighton
Matthew Roy-Andrew Roy
Bob McClain-Clark Cunningham
Jason Copus-Arlin McCauley
Frankie Hanvey-Blake Drummond
Ron Wheeler-Steve Taylor
Jeff Watkins-Mike Sims
Rick Damke-Greg Kernion
Greg Heath-Marc Jones
Bob Eaton-Mark Lee
Ben Milligan-Mitch Mittelmark
Kaine Gibson-Don Hill
Trey Sawyer-Don Whitlow
Clayton Patton-Paul Pitts
Dillard Talley-Eric Stringer
William Bedwell-Kevin Bedwell
Richard Hollingsworth-Joe Sanders
Kyle Turner-Brad Burgess

Fourth flight
(Honda Pilot) – 30 teams

Denny Besser-Nick Jenkins
Al Muskewitz-Grady Sapp
Ken Howell-Brian Howell
Danny Smith-Brad Williams
Tommy Stevens, Jr.-Tommy Stevens, Sr.
David Holt-John Curran
Andy Jenkins-Mark Gaines
Will Coker-Matt Clonts
Joey Thompson-Matthew Brown
Taylor Snow-Dallis Snow
Greg Stroud-Greg Smith
Willem Mijnarends-Kevin Grohoske
Michael Herndon-Tim Coffey
Brady Shelton-Brady Carter
Daniel Crumly-Jonathan Chandler
Will Reaves-Caleb Morrow
Zack Poss-Chance Horton
Ben Phillips-Craig Kiker
Rush Rutledge-Chad Martin
TJ McGatha-Jeff Barnwell
Cale Wright-Dustin Wilkins
Jeremy Wright-Josh Wright
Jackson Veasey-Santi Hechart
Jamie Strickland-Jason Lett
Buddy Ray-Clinton Ray
Alex Gallahar-Dalton Murphy
Lance Muncher-Todd Ginn
JT Wright-Evan Jackson
Matt Whitaker-Tommy Woodward
Mark Cotton-Derrick Cotton

Fifth flight
(Toyota Tundra) – 24 teams

Ty Johnson-Keith Howell
Derek Webb-Baylie Webb
Chad Cabeen-Tim Kurecka
Jason Alderman-Christopher Alderman
Thomas Clutter-David Martin
Greg Thrower-Joshua Johnsey
Jim Perdue-Wendell Wood
Pete Morrison-Blake Lowry
Bill Fobbus-Mark Casey
Carter Gable-John Roe
John Flannagan-Justin Marsh
Andy Moore-Will Hollingsworth
Justin Dopson-Adam Benefiel
Mark Chesnut-Terry Sumner
Chris Law-Nic Stephens
Scott Bullard-Jimmy Ingram
Corey Cronan-LaDon Rogers
Chad Brewer-Chuck Robinson
Jimmie Thompson, III-Jimmy Jackson
Raymond Stover-Raymond Stover II
Wayne Ellenburg-Roger Ellenburg
Greg Goodwin-Andrew Williams
Taylor Jones-Hunter Newton
Ronnie Taylor-Kelvin Wright

Sixth flight
(Toyota 4 Runner) – 27 teams

Ben Padgett-Noel Johnson
Brian Clifton-David McFarland
Trey Forbus-Brian Forbus
Patrick Stokesberry-Donnie Bowman
Randy Burnham-Randy Peppers
Landon Holley-Jacob Slick
Jonathan Butler-Blake Thomas
Tim Arnold-Zachary Moody
Blake Studdard-Bobby Haynes
Chris Davenport-Patrick Adams
Brandon Slick-Jonathan Roberts
Matt Sweatman-King Knight
Wayne Tillman-Billy Grizzard
Heath Waldrop-Greg Rainey
Allen Stokes-Kevin Brown
Pete Mackey-Bryan Lipham
Tripp Johnson-Kris Key
Dylan Pugh-Randy Pugh
Jose Rolon-Neil Elders
Jon Michael Tinny-Justin Mallicoat
Kevin Weathington-Mark Helton
Connor Shelton-Jeff Shelton
Doug White-Diana White
Travis Gilbert-George Gilbert
Justin Brown-Jeremy Waters
Teddy Tyler-Van Heible
Levi Lewis-Jamie Lewis

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