E.A. Sports Today

Chandler closing in

Dalton Chandler grabs first-round County lead, virtually locks up 2017 County Player of the Year award

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Dalton Chandler is as close to raising the Calhoun County Player of the Year trophy as he can be with one round left in the County Tour season, but that won’t be his focus going into Sunday’s final round of the Calhoun County Tournament.

“I want to win the tournament,” he said. “And I want to beat that guy driving the Jeep.”

Chandler, the dominant player on the County Tour with a record four wins in six starts, grabbed the opening-round lead in the 81st Calhoun County Tournament Saturday with a 5-under-par 65 at the Anniston Municipal Golf Course.

A win Sunday would clinch his Player of the Year award, although he appears to have a comfortable margin of error after his closest pursuer in the race, Gary Wigington, shot 72 and is seven shots back.

If they didn’t play Sunday’s round, based on Saturday’s standings Chandler would finish the season with 1,650 points – five wins in five eligible events – and he’d win Player of the Year by 370 points.

“I’m not thinking about Player of the Year, I want to win this tournament,” he said. “This is the biggest tournament we’ve got. If I win this tournament, that’ll take care of itself.”

“That guy driving the Jeep” pulling away as Chandler spoke is his father, defending champion Ott Chandler and one of six players on his heels after shooting 66.

The older Chandler, Grant Hockman, Tanner Wells, Chandler Wilborn, Brennan Clay and Adrian Geeting are all tied for second, one shot back. Hockman and Wells are currently both outside the top 16 but within 80 points of breaking into a match-play qualifying spot.

Father was playing in the same group as his son Saturday and is convinced he was watching the Player of the Year.

“That was his goal at the start of the year, to win Player of the Year, and he’s got a good shot to do that,” Ott said. “Those two (Dalton and Wigington) are our best players. Twig’s been our best player for a long time; there’s a new sheriff in town and he just happens to be my kid.

“He’s still got a lot of learning, too, but he’s working at it and going in the right direction. I’m excited to see what the future holds for him. He’s not ready for the Tour. He’s ready for the next step, but he’s not ready for the Tour.”

Dalton’s decision to turn pro is expected to come soon, but don’t expect any grand announcement Sunday if he closes out the local schedule with his first County Championship. When he does make the move, it will be without having cut his teeth in some of the major state, regional and national amateur events, but with the kind of pressure golf the Chandlers play out of town Ott doesn’t believe that’s any hindrance to his son’s dream of playing professionally.

Just two weeks ago Dalton won the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational at Cane Creek in a tipped-out championship flight field that included a dozen Emerald Coast Tour pros and the area’s top amateurs.

“I think when you’re playing (the kind of golf they play) you’re under the gun more than you are if you’re out there trying to win a trophy,” Ott said. “He’s not catching the best talent, but he’s catching mini-tour players every week where we go. He’s not catching the young amateur players, but it seems to me like every time he matches against the (Jacksonville State) players it’s always one-sided and it’s always in his favor.

“A big shout out to the JSU coach for cutting him because that lit a fire under him. When they told him he wasn’t good enough to play for them it lit a fire up there and now just every time he plays against them he whups them.”

NOTES: Among the 66s, Hockman turned to the front nine in 1-over then played the next six holes in 5-under; Wells was 5-under through 10 breaking 70 for the first time; Clay made two long birdie putts (35 feet plus) among his three in a row on 11, 12, 13 … Among the morning players, Caleb Bowen birdied his first four holes and five of his first six and shot 69 … John Tucker shot 76 on his 64th birthday … Dalton Chandler and Daniel Black tied for lowest putts in the round (22) and will putt off for the Duffer Award prior to the start of Sunday’s afternoon shotgun … Closest to the pin prizes went to Kelly Rogers (AM) and Cal Lambert (PM) on No. 7, Scott Martin (AM) and Caleb McKinney (PM) on No. 4. Longest drive prizes went to Caleb Bowen (AM) and Casey Harmon (PM) … Wigington defeated Jeremy McGatha in their Calhoun County Match Play semifinal Friday and will play Chandler for the 2016 title soon. The top 16 finishers in this year’s County Tour points standings after Sunday will qualify for the 2017 field.


at Anniston Municipal Golf Course
First-round scores

Championship A
Dalton Chandler 33-32—65
Grant Hockman 30-36—66
Tanner Wells 31-35—66
Chandler Wilborn 33-33—66
Ott Chandler 33-33—66
Brennan Clay 34-32—66
Adrian Geeting 33-33—66
Jeremy McGatha 34-33—67
Andrew Brooks 36-31—67
Caleb McKinney 35-33—68
Sawyer Stice 34-35—69
Caleb Bowen 31-38—69
Kenny Wright 36-33—69

Championship B
Dennis Austin 37-33—70
Frank Brady 33-37—70
Landon Straub 36-34—70
Austin Minter 35-35—70
Chase Hollingsworth 34-36—70
Scott Martin 34-37—71
Danny Whittaker 35-37—72
Layton Bussey 37-35—72
George Salmon 36-36—72
Ted Heim 34-38—72
Gary Wigington 37-35—72
Chip Howell 34-38—72
Clay Calkins 36-36—72

First flight
Billy Thompson 38-35—73
Daniel Black 37-36—73
Scott Eaton 39-35—74
Nate Griffin 36-38—74
Casey Harmon 37-38—75
Matt Rogers 37-39—76
John Tucker 39-37—76
Gage Miller 38-39—77
John McKenzie 38-39—77
Dan Griffin 38-39—77
Tim Steward 38-39—77
Kenny Fulmer 37-40—77
Al Johnson 39-38—77

Second flight
Tony Hicks 41-37—78
Don Hill 41-38—79
Rick Dickson 40-40—80
Vince Floyd 40-41—81
Jimbo Phillips 38-43—81
Andrew Miller 40-42—82
Johnny Barnes 39-43—82
Paul Wade 42-40—82
Drue Snow 40-43—83

Third flight
Cal Lambert 37-47—84
Zack Mangum 43-41—84
Landon Holley 44-40—84
Nick Hubbard 43-41—84
Brad Hardin 42-43—85
David Gattis 40-45—85
Tyler Teneyck 41-44—85
Kelly Rogers 42-44—86
Jerry Dingler 43-43—86

Fourth flight
Mark Cotton 43-45—88
T.J. McGatha 42-46—88
Clayton Chandler 40-49—89
Sean Hayes 51-42—93
Austin Roberts 50-46—96

Player 535 344 344 35 434 444 345 35 70

D. Chandler 534 434 235 33 424 334 345 32 65
Wells 435 343 234 31 334 454 444 35 66
Hockman 334 333 344 30 544 343 346 36 66
Wilborn 435 344 244 33 534 334 245 33 66
O. Chandler 435 344 244 33 433 434 354 33 66
Clay 444 344 344 34 423 344 345 32 66
Geeting 425 344 254 33 444 333 345 33 66

Sunday’s pairings

8 a.m. shotgun
1 – Tony Hicks, Don Hill, Rick Dickson
2 – Vince Floyd, Jimbo Phillips, Andrew Miller
3 – Johnny Barnes, Paul Wade, Drue Snow
4 – Cal Lambert, Zach Mangum, Landon Holley
5 – Nick Hubbard, Brad Hardin, David Gattis
6 – Open
7 – Tyler Teneyck, Kelly Rogers, Jerry Dingler, Mark Cotton
8 – T.J. McGatha, Clayton Chandler, Sean Hayes, Austin Roberts

1 p.m. shotgun
1A – Ott Chandler, Adrian Geeting, Brennan Clay, Jeremy McGatha
1B – Dalton Chandler, Tanner Wells, Grant Hockman, Chandler Wilborn
2 – Andrew Brooks, Caleb McKinney, Sawyer Stice, Caleb Bowen
3 – Kenny Wright, Austin Minter, Chase Hollingsworth, Dennis Austin
4 – Frank Brady, Landon Straub, Scott Martin, Layton Bussey
5 – Danny Whittaker, Ted Heim, Gary Wigington, George Salmon
6 – Chip Howell, Clay Calkins, Billy Thompson, Daniel Black
7 – Scott Eaton, Nathan Griffin, Casey Harmon, John Tucker
8 – Matt Rogers, Gage Miller, Tim Steward, John McKenzie
9 – Dan Griffin, Kenny Fulmer, Al Johnson


(If the Calhoun County Golf Tour season ended Saturday, here are what the players points standings would look like. The top 16 qualify for the Calhoun County Match Play Championship:)

Dalton Chandler 1650
Gary Wigington 1280
Brennan Clay 1155
Ty Cole 1108
Jeremy McGatha 1099
Andrew Brooks 1079
Chad Calvert 970
Caleb McKinney 963
Adrian Geeting 952
Caleb Bowen 907
Matt Rogers 843
Grant Hockman 783
Tanner Wells 770
Frank Brady 764
Billy Thompson 718
Clay Calkins 715
(Projected cut)
Jonathan Pate 678
Layton Bussey 644
Kenny Wright 632
Austin Minter 619
Kelly Rogers 595
Jeremy Willis 583
Chase Hollingsworth 534
Scott Martin 520
Chip Howell 474
Luke Armstrong 463
Janson Wilborn 438
Kevin Daugherty 415
Brad Hardin 405
Casey Harmon 393
Chance Harris 390
Landon Straub 377
Jason Brinkley 370
Logan Archer 350
Chad Watson 338
Chris Cox 328
Chad Reavis 300

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