E.A. Sports Today

Ams lead Cane Creek

Wigington, Chandler top overall leaderboard; two-time winner Sapp leads pro group, but three shots off lead

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Geno Celano went back through several pages of computer files in search of the last amateur to win one of his Emerald Coast Golf Tour’s multi-day events. He’s still looking.

It could happen Sunday.

In the only county event of the year that features pros and amateurs in the same field, the top two amateurs on the Calhoun County Golf Tour lead everybody in the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational.

Gary Wigington shot 6-under-par 66 Saturday and moved to the top of the leaderboard with a two-day total 10-under 134. County Tour points leader and first-round tournament leader Dalton Chandler is second at 135 after a second-round 69.

Two-time pro winner Kyle Sapp of Gardendale is currently the low pro after a firing a 68 for a two-day total 137. He leads Alex Tull of Corinth, Miss., and Wilson McDonald of Birmingham by one in the pro division.

An amateur last won an ECGT event in November, when Daniel Jansen of Mobile won a one-day event at Regatta Bay in Destin, but in the four years of available records Celano, the tour’s executive director, couldn’t find an amateur winning a multi-day event.

“It would be a great confidence booster, no doubt, to know you can compete or even be right in there with them in a tournament when they’re playing for a living and we’re weekend warriors,” Wigington said. “It does make you feel good and gives you confidence knowing your game’s a little better than you typically give it credit for, so it would be a good boost.”

While being the low man in the overall tournament might stoke the ego, it’s more important to Wigington to take care of business on the amateur side of the event. If he is low amateur and Chandler is second, Wigington would move within 12.5 points of Chandler going into the season-ending Calhoun County Championship, where the points are worth more.

If Chandler is low amateur and Wigington second, it would be his fourth County Tour win of the season and give him a 112.5-point lead in the standings. But he still won’t have clinched the title, because Wigington could still win Player of the Year by taking the County and Chandler finishing worse than third. Chandler was eighth in the county last year.

“My whole mindset is for me to have a chance at Player of the Year is I’ve got to win this tournament to nearly get things tied up with Dalton,” Wigington said. “If he comes out on top I don’t know if I have a chance at all. It’s one of those (things) I’ve put pressure on myself trying to do the best I can just to try to beat him and wherever the chips fall with everybody else is just part of it.”

Wigington played a bogey-free round one day removed from his 48th birthday, shooting 34 on the front, 32 on the back. He could have gone even deeper considering putts on 14, 15, 16 and 17 for eagle or birdie were on line and either stopped a roll short or rolled over the hole. He is 13-under over his last 33 holes of the tournament after opening with three straight bogeys rushing to the tee to make his opening-round tee time.

“I’m used to getting here at least an hour early, but when you don’t get to do much of any of that it puts you in a bad rhythm,” he said. “I finally made a six-footer for par (on No. 4 Friday) and by that time it had gotten kind of calmed down. When you’re in a hurry like that your heart rate gets up, you’re adrenaline’s flowing, it’s hard to get in a good rhythm, a good swing. After that, I got settled down, got to playing and got it back in.”

Chandler would like to win the tournament, but expects it will be a battle either way. He won the amateur side the last time current low pro Sapp won the pro side here (2015).

“The way it’s looking right now the amateur side is gonna be as hard to win as the pro, or harder,” Chandler said.

His round Saturday was marred by three bogeys – created by three-putts on 3 and 4 and a bad tee shot on 11 that dropped into a tie for the lead. Wigington took the lead with birdie on 13.

“I guess you’re gonna make some bogeys out here, but today I shouldn’t have made any,” Chandler said.

Chad Calvert moved into third place on the amateur side, four shots behind Chandler, after a 5-under 67. He saved par seven of eight times he missed the green and had 12 one-putts.

“It’s just making putts that I haven’t made before,” Calvert said. “I’m just all-around playing better since my weight loss.”

On the cover: Dalton Chandler follows the flight of tournament leader Gary Wigington’s approach shot on 16 at Cane Creek Saturday. The two amateurs are the top two players on the leaderboard

At Cane Creek GC
Championship flight
Second-round scores
Gary Wigington 68-66—134
Dalton Chandler 66-69—135
p-Kyle Sapp, Gardendale 69-68—137
p-Alex Tull, Corinth, Miss. 69-69—138
p-Wilson McDonald, Birmingham 71-67—138
Chad Calvert 72-67—139
p-Jared Davis, Tifton, Ga. 72-68—140
p-Brady Hollenbacher, Fleming Is., Fla. 69-73—142
Ty Cole 71-72—143
p-Jared Bettcher, Auburn 68-76—144
Caleb McKinney 70-74—144
Jeremy Willis 75-70—145
Jeremy McGatha 75-71—146
Brennan Clay 72-75—147
Matt Rogers 71-76—147
p-Forrest Knight, Jemison 74-74—148
Caleb Bowen 74-75—149
Thomas Bruchmann 72-78—150
p-Jordan Anderton, Birmingham 76-75—151
Dillon Sartain 76-77—153
p-Alden Fortner, Dothan 76-78—154
p-Ethan Roberts, Anniston 76-81—157
Daily Thomas 79-79—158
Frank Brady 77-82—159
Layton Bussey 78-83—161
Luke Armstrong 79-87—166
Clayton Chandler 89-81—170
p-Glenn Northcutt, Dothan 73-NC

Players flight A
Bob Eaton 36-39—75
Chance Harris 38-38—76
Randy Meeks 38-38—76
Rich Santagata 40-36—76
Skip Talbert 40-38—78
Danny Stephens 43-39—82
Dennis Austin 43-39—82
Corey Parker 39-43—82
Don Hill 44-39—83

Players flight B
John McKenzie 44-44—87
Jimmy Jackson 46-41—87
Paul Szuch 42-45—87
Clark Cunningham 44-44—88
Tad Moore 47-41—88
Tyler Teneyck 43-46—89
Rocco D’Gomez 44-46—90
Robert McClain 42-48—90
David Muncher 45-46—91
Kelly Rogers 44-47—91
David Gilley 47-46—93
Harrison Szuch 48-46—94
Kevin Dawson 44-50—94
Roger Bennett 50-46—96

Sunday tee times
8 a.m. – Roger Bennett, David Gilley, Kelly Rogers
8:10 – Rocco D’Gomez, David Muncher, Robert McClain
8:20 – Kevin Dawson, Tyler Teneyck, Tad Moore
8:30 – Paul Szuch, Harrison Szuch, Corey Parker
8:40 – Clark Cunningham, John McKenzie, Jimmy Jackson
8:50 – Dennis Austin, Don Hill, Danny Stephens
9:00 – Skip Talbert, Rick Santagata, Randy Meeks
9:10 – Bob Eaton, Chance Harris
9:20 – Starters Time
9:30 – Clayton Chandler, Luke Armstrong, Layton Bussey
9:40 – Frank Brady, Daily Thomas, Ethyn Roberts
9:50 – Alden Fortner, Dillon Sartain, Jordan Anderton
10:00 – Tomas Bruchmann, Caleb Bowen, Forrest Knight
10:10 – Brennan Clay, Matt Rogers, Jeremy McGatha
10:20 – Jeremy Willis, Jared Bettcher, Caleb McKinney
10:30 – Ty Cole, Brady Hollenbacher, Jared Davis
10:40 – Chad Calvert, Alex Tull, Wilson McDonald
10:50 – Kyle Sapp, Dalton Chandler, Gary Wigington

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