E.A. Sports Today

Cole wins Etowah Open

Cole plays adventuresome final round, wins fourth Etowah Open title

Ty Cole rolls in the clinching putt before receiving congratulations for winning the Etowah Open (cover) from playing partners Steve Honda, Tee Brown and Chad Calvert.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GLENCOE – If you thought Ty Cole’s play on the 14th hole Sunday was an adventure, you should’ve seen the rest of the round.

“The whole day was an adventure,” he said.

Cole saved an all-world par 5 on the 14th after hitting an unplayable drive off the tee and went on to shoot 2-under-par 69 for the second day in a row to win the Etowah Open at the Links at Briarmeade for the fourth time.

He birdied three of his final six holes, including a 20-foot downhiller on the par-3 15th to basically seal the title. He shot 4-under 138 for the championship, three shots better than nine-time champion Scott Smith, who shot the best round of the day (68) with five birdies on the back nine after switching to a cross-hand style at the turn.

Defending champion Chad Calvert of Boaz, who shared the first-round lead with Cole and Steve Honda, finished third at 143. Jacksonville’s Jeremy McGatha was fourth (144) after shooting 71, the only other round of par or better Sunday.

The defining stretch in the round was the middle three holes on the back nine. By Cole’s calculation he had a four-shot lead over the rest of his final group going to 14 after his birdie to Calvert’s bogey on 13. (The lead was actually three, but who’s quibbling?).

The 14th at Briarmeade is a par-5 divided by a pond that can be had if you clear the water. Cole has hit driver on the hole every time he’s played there and that was his play this time while the other three players in his group laid up. He cleared the water but snap hooked it deep into the trees.

“I don’t lay up,” he said. “I’m not going to hit a 6-iron out there and be that guy; I’m hitting driver. If you can get it over the water it’s a short hole, but if you have to lay it up short of the water you’re 250.”

He found the ball after a brief search and for a moment considered hitting it back into play. Whether he got a flashback to Jason Day’s disaster on the 18th at the PGA Championship the day before or not, he thought better of it and took the long lonely ride back to the tee to hit his third shot.

That one found the fairway over the pond about 115 yards from the green. He hit a wedge to two feet and converted the par. Through all that drama he lost only one shot off his lead as Calvert made birdie.

“That was huge,” Cole said. “If I make bogey or double, Calvert makes bogey I go from a four-shot lead to a one-shot lead or a two-shot lead.

“But the putt on 15 was the biggest thing. It was 20 feet downhill, but it’s a putt I’ve had before. I said to myself if you’re going to win the tournament you’ve got to make it, or at least you’ve got to try to make it. I made my mind up if I knock it off the green I knock it off the green, but I’m going to try to make it. It was probably the best putt I’ve hit all weekend as far as speed and line and I didn’t hit very many good putts this weekend.”

“That was a big swing in the match,” Calvert said. “When you hit a driver over the water and you make par after taking a penalty, you deserve to win.”

While all the drama was unfolding in the final group, Smith was quietly working his way into contention. He missed a short bogey putt on 9 and decided it was time to switch putter grips. He went cross-handed and proceeded to birdie four of the first five holes on the back.

“I used to be a pretty good putter,” said Smith, who drove in from Hot Springs, Ark., to play in the event. “The last couple years I’ve kind of struggled and I’ve tried a little bit of everything – putters and grips and everything. I missed a little short putt on 9 and thought I’m just going to try it and see and it went really good. I putted cross-handed years ago for probably six or eight months. I’ll probably try it for a while.”

Cole and Calvert will be partners in next weekend’s Burningtree Invitational opposite the Calhoun County Championship. Both are solidly among the top 16 qualifiers for the Calhoun County Match Play Championship and Cole, who skipped the last two years despite being the top seed, said he would “probably” play this year if the event were contested over one weekend.

Final scores
Championship A

Ty Cole 69-69—138
Scott Smith 73-68—141
Chad Calvert 69-74—143
Jeremy McGatha 73-71—144
Randy Lipscomb 70-75—145
Dane Moore 71-75—146
Chad Hare 71-75—146
Steve Honda 69-77—146
Tee Brown 70-77—147
Kevin Johnson 75-74—149
Brock McNeely 73-77—150
Brad Baird 75-76—151
Jeff Noah 74-78—152
John Turnipseed 75-77—152
Dustin Underwood 75-79—154
Chad Reavis 75-83—158

Championship B
Norman Clifton 76-72—148
Frank Brady 79-73—152
Steve Keen 78-76—154
Ryan Moore 77-77—154
Matt Rogers 78-77—155
Chris Cox 78-77—155
Bumper Jones 79-76—155
Stanley Hawkins 77-79—156
Danny Owens 79-78—157
Eric Hoskins 77-81—158
Kenny Fulmer 78-81—159
Trent Ralston 79-80—159
Clayton Chandler 77-82—159
Chls Holderfield 79-81—160
Greg Logan 79-82—161
Mark Cantrell 77-84—161
Luke Armstrong 86-79—165

First flight
Zach Contris 80-72—152
Eric West 81-73—154
Ryan Cannington 80-75—155
Craig Graves 83-77—160
Matt Greer 83-79—162
Jason Shields 81-81—162
Jeff Hopper 84-79—163
Scott Medders 85-80—165
Josh Wright 83-83—166
Jake Ball 80-86—166
Richard Hollingsworth 83-84—167
Joe Sanders 83-85—168
Rusty Freeman 85-85—170
Dre Davenport 83-NC

Second flight
Cole Contris 86-72—158
Chad Maples 87-73—160
Greg Hare 88-74—162
Derek Epperson 89-81—170
Dale Owens 86-85—171
Ray Strawbridge 87-88—175
Kevin Lipscomb 87-90—177
Paul Allen 99-91—190
Colton Fells 104-96—200
John Eiland 87-NC
Josh Colvard 88-NC

Neal Keener 71-75—146
Larry Gilchrist 72-75—147
Jeff McRae 75-74—149
Mark Spurlock 71-80—151
Randy Spurlin 88-78—155
Wesley Watkins 80-74—156
Chuck Medders 78-79—157
Frank Barnes 76-82—158
Craig Colvard 78-86—164
Greg Ford 81-86—167

Super Seniors
Phillip Eades 71-75—146
Mike Estes 74-72—146
Larry Moon 73-79—152
Dennis Austin 72-85—157
Wayne Downey 80-78—158
Horace Rosmond 79-87—166
Wayne Ball 80-82—162
G Hopper 73-NC
Donny Sutton 81-NC
Frankie Leath 75-NC

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