E.A. Sports Today

Holding his own

Dalton Chandler tests his game against the pros, shoots 66 to grab opening-round lead in Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational

Jemison pro Forrest Knight tries to work himself out of a tough spot around the eighth green Friday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Dalton Chandler still has every intention of turning pro this year and Friday he got his first real chance to see how his game would hold up against guys on the next level.

So far, so good.

The Calhoun County Golf Tour points leader shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to grab a two-shot lead against a field of mini-tour pros and top local amateurs after the first round of the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational at Cane Creek Golf Course.

He shot 33 on each side with four birdies and a chip-in eagle from just off the green at 14. He leads Jared Bettcher, a pro from Auburn, and Gary Wigington by two shots.

“Before the tournament started that’s the way I was looking at it,” Chandler said. “And that’s the way it is. If I do it, this is where I’m going to start, stuff like this.”

The round was a far cry from the 75 he shot in the final round at Pine Hill two weeks ago, his first round over par on the Calhoun County Golf Tour this season. He didn’t hit the ball badly that day, hitting 12 fairways and 14 greens, but he had 35 putts.

“You can’t ever win making 35 putts,” he said.

But even if he hadn’t played well in Friday’s litmus test it wouldn’t have deterred his intention of turning pro. His plan remains to ease into the pro arena and when he finishes this final year of college go “all out and change everything, like my lifestyle.”

“I’m confident; I’ve got to play good,” he said. “If I play good, I feel like I’ll be OK – and that’s in our little deal in the county or that’s in this pro tournament. I’m at the point where I feel like when I play good, I play good; it’s just those 75s at Pine Hill, those can’t happen at all.”

Three of the pros he’s likely to encounter when he does turn pro — two-time Cane Creek winner Kyle Sapp of Gardendale; Alex Tull of Corinth, Miss.; and Brady Hollenbacher of Fleming Island, Fla. — are tied at 69.

Alabama Open champion Forrest Knight of Jemison, who came into this event off a 61 in his last competitive round Wednesday, was 3-under through seven holes before making a disastrous 10 on the serpentine eighth hole. He bounced back with a birdie on 9, nearly chipping in for eagle, and finished at 74.

Bettcher, the day’s low pro, was 1-over through three holes, then got to red numbers with birdies on three of his next four holes. He turned in 34, then added birdies on 14 and 16.

Wigington got off to a rough start. Rushing to the first tee to make his time with no warmup, he started with three consecutive bogeys. He collected himself with a par on 4, then played the final 14 holes in 7-under. He shot 31 on the back nine, which included an eagle on the par-5 14th and back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18.

At Cane Creek GC
First-round scores
Dalton Chandler 33-33–66
p-Jared Bettcher, Auburn 34-34–68
Gary Wigington 37-31–68
p-Kyle Sapp, Gardendale 35-34–69
p-Alex Tull, Corinth, Miss. 36-33–69
p-Brady Hollenbacher, Fleming Is., Fla. 37-32–69
Caleb McKinney 34-36–70
p-Wilson McDonald, Birmingham 36-35–71
Matt Rogers 37-34–71
Ty Cole 34-37–71
p-Jared Davis, Tifton, Ga. 34-38–72
Chad Calvert 36-36–72
Tomas Bruchmann 36-36–72
Brennan Clay 36-36–72
p-Glenn Northcutt, Dothan 37-36–73
p-Forrest Knight, Jemison 37-37–74
Caleb Bowen 36-38–74
Jeremy Willis 39-36–75
Jeremy McGatha 38-37–75
p-Jordan Anderton, Birmingham 39-37–76
p-Ethan Roberts, Anniston 38-38–76
p-Alden Fortner, Dothan 40-36–76
Dillon Sartain 36-40–76
Frank Brady 41-36–77
Layton Bussey 38-40–78
Daily Thomas 41-38–79
Luke Armstrong 39-40–79
Clayton Chandler 43-46–89

FMCU Pro-Invitational
Saturday Tee Times
9 am — Clayton Chandler, Luke Armstrong, Daily Thomas
9:10 — Layton Bussey, Frank Brady, Dillon Sartain
9:20 — Alden Fortner, Ethyn Roberts, Jordan Anderton
9:30 — Jeremy McGatha, Caleb Bowen, Brennan Clay
9:40 — Glenn Northcutt, Forrest Knight, Jeremy Willis
9:50 — Thomas Buchanon, Chad Calvert, Jared Davis
10:00 — Ty Cole, Matt Rogers, Wilson McDonald
10:10 — Caleb McKinney, Kyle Sapp, Brady Hollenbacher
10:20 — Alex Tull, Jared Bettcher, Gary Wigington, Dalton Chandler
10:40 — John McKenzie, Rocco D’Gomez, Danny Stephens
10:50 — Don Hill, Tyler Tenecyk, Bob Eaton
11:00 — Roger Bennett, Clark Cunningham, Kelly Rogers
11:10 — Caleb Morrow, Jimmy Jackson, Clayton Chandler
11:20 — Robert McLain, David Muncher, David Gilley
11:30 — Tad Moore, Kevin Dawson, Skip Talbert
11:40 — Paul Szuch, Harrison Szuch, Corey Parker
11:50 — Rich Santagata, Randy Meeks, Walt Drake

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