E.A. Sports Today

SKCC partners lead Pine Hill Invitational

Cole (63), Wigington (64) top Pine Hill leaderboard, Brooks third after 65

Andrew Brooks (R) and Brennan Clay wait their turn on the tee during Saturday’s opening round of the Pine Hill Invitational. Brooks birdied his last two holes to pull into third place at the end of the day. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Ty Cole 63 (-9)
Gary Wigington 64 (-8)
Andrew Brooks 65 (-7)
5 players tied at -5

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Two weeks ago Ty Cole and Gary Wigington were working together to lap the field in the Sunny King Charity Classic. Today, it’s every man for himself.

In their first individual tournament together since winning their second straight SKCC title, Cole and Wigington, expectedly, are battling it out at the top of the Pine Hill Invitational leaderboard.

Cole grabbed the first-round lead with a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, while Wigington was one shot back after a bogey-free 64. Andrew Brooks was third at 65. Five players are tied for fourth at 67.

“That’s what I expected,” Brooks said. “I knew nine (under) would be the number and I had a feeling it was going to be one of three guys that would do it — either Ty, Twig or Dalton (Chandler), if not two of the three.”

It was only two weeks ago Ty and Twig were putting the finishing touches on a record-tying best-ball 57 at Anniston Country Club that made them the first back-to-back King Classic champions in 12 years and Wigington the winningest player in the history of the event.

It was all smiles as the partners hoisted the champions’ trophy on the back porch at the country club. But while they will enjoy each others company in the final group here Sunday, they’ll be trying to make things happen for their own benefit when they hit the home stretch.

“This is why we do it,” Cole said. “He and I both know if we play our best there’s a very good chance we’re going to be (going at it at the end), either us or Dalton or Jeremy (McGatha) or somebody. We’re all going to be there head-to-head if everybody plays their best. And we look forward to it.

“We love playing together. We love the Sunny King and playing in the scrambles and things like that together, but at the same time we love knocking heads, too. It’s fun. We’re not out here for money or anything. We’re out here to compete and when you get to compete against somebody playing really good that week it makes it even better.”

Cole’s round featured 10 birdies and a three-putt bogey. He made seven birdies in the eight holes after the bogey.

“To birdie 18 to get to 9 I’ll take it, and we’ll play tomorrow and see what happens,” Cole said.

Wigington’s lightning at Pine Hill usually comes late in the tournament, when he roars to a big final round to win, but this time it came right out of the gate with a chip-in from just off the green for eagle on No. 1. And he nearly chipped in for eagle from the fringe on 18, the ball coming to rest just inches from the cup. The only real blemish was a three-putt par on 17.

“I chipped it real good,” Wigington said. “When I did miss the green I chipped it up there and was close all day long. I saved a lot of shots with the short game today … and that helps a lot out here.”

Brooks did all he could to ensure this wasn’t going to be a two-man race. He got his round going with an eagle on the par-4 seventh and was 6-under through 12. He bogeyed 13, but finished strong with birdies on each of his last two holes.

“Seven was kind of the turning point that this could be something pretty good,” Brooks said.

On the cover: Gary Wigington (left) and Ty Cole talk over the finer points of their opening rounds Saturday.

To see a gallery of photos from Saturday’s action, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com and open the golf file to find the Pine Hill Invitational.

Kenny Okins (L) and Kaine Gibson share a moment of success on the ninth green at Pine Hill Saturday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

First-round scores
Championship flight

Ty Cole 32-31—63
Gary Wigington 31-33—64
Andrew Brooks 32-33—65
Brennan Clay 32-35—67
Dalton Chandler 34-33—67
Ott Chandler 34-33—67
Jeremy McGatha 34-33—67
Josh Poole 32-35—67
Chad Calvert 36-32—68
Jonathan Pate 35-33—68
Kaine Gibson 35-34—69
Caleb McKinney 35-34—69
Matt Rogers 34-36—70

First flight
Billy Thompson 37-34—71
Caleb Bowen 35-36—71
Scott Martin 36-35—71
Clayton Chandler 35-36—71
Janson Wilborn 35-37—72
Nick Pollard 35-38—73
Chad Watson 37-36—73
Tyler Dopson 38-35—73
Tanner Wells 36-38—74
Chip Howell 37-37—74
Frank Brady 36-39—75
Adrian Geeting 35-40—75
Timmy Woodard 37-39—76
Grant Hockman 37-39—76
Tony Hicks 37-39—76

Second flight
Tim Steward 37-40—77
Charlie Smith 39-38—77
Jeff Noah 39-38—77
Dustin Viehe 37-40—77
Daniel Black 40-38—78
Chandler Wilborn 37-41—78
Jim Corby 38-41—79
Wesley Jenkins 41-38—79
Kenny Okins 39-40—79
Ted Heim 37-42—79
Luke Armstrong 40-39—79
Andrew Miller 38-41—79
Chance Harris 41-39—80
Jimbo Phillips 40-40—80
Benji Turley 38-42—80
Josh Hicks 43-38—81
Josh Davis 44-37—81
Rick Okins 39-42—81
Caleb Morrow 42-39—81

Third flight
Kelly Rogers 41-43—84
Steve Taylor 41-43—84
Kenny Fulmer 44-42—86
Brad Hardin 45-41—86
Heath Waldrop 44-43—87
Marc Gaines 42-46—88
Austin Roberts 44-45—89
Ricky Carden 48-42–90
David Gattis 49-41—90
Tim Davis 46-45—91
Hayden Crowe 49-43—92
Greg Goodwin 47-46—93
David Stephens 48-48—96
Austin Minter WD

Senior Division
Dennis Austin 34-32—66
Jerry Irwin 35-35—70
Carter Gable 37-38—75
Morris Mink 36-40—76
J.H. Connell 38-38—76
John Wood 40-37—77
Robbie Robertson 38-39—77

Senior B
Lamar Ward 40-38—78
Rickey Hurst 39-40—79
Horace Rosemond 38-41—79
William Patterson 40-40—80
Randall Doss 39-42—81
Paul Dorsey 42-45—87

Dennis Austin (center) made seven birdies and shot 66 to lead the Pine Hill Invitational Senior Division. Austin is flanked by John Wood (left) and Horace Rosamond. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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