E.A. Sports Today

Show of respect

Friendly foursome fires a pair of 55s to share first-round lead at The Hill where gallery shows respect for one of its own

Tournament co-leaders (from left) Andrew Brooks, Matt Rogers, Brennan Clay and Jeremy McGatha congratulate one another on a round well played.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The Buddy Moore Charity Tournament is an event borne out of and built on respect. It’s undeniable the respect players and patrons hold for the man whose name is attached to the tournament and that reverence was extended to one particularly favored son of The Hill playing in the field Saturday.

The good-time gang that gathers behind No. 2 green at Anniston Municipal is going to let a player know how good – or bad – a shot he has hit into the triple-tiered par-3, similar to way happens on the stadium hole at TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open. And they were having a good time expressing that opinion Saturday, but on two occasions you could tell the respect they held for Matt Rogers.

He was playing in one of the marquee groups of the afternoon pairing – with long-time Buddy Moore partner Jeremy McGatha, Sunny King Classic partner Andrew Brooks and Brennan Clay – and the teams traded shots all day while grabbing a share of the opening-round lead with matching 55s.

There already was a lot of activity going on behind No. 2 when the players started their round on the adjacent No. 3 tee. But when it came Rogers’ turn to hit, all that activity stopped and a quiet fell over the area the way it would when a player is about to hit at Augusta National.

The group came back around to the par-3 for their final hole of the day and by then the good-time gang was in full throat having taken in a full day of golf and refreshment. Rogers and McGatha were facing a short chip from just off the green that was pretty important for the proceedings of the day.

It wasn’t that difficult shot for a player like Rogers who possesses one of the best short games in town, but there was a lot riding on it. When the ball disappeared into the cup, Rogers and McGatha were pretty happy, but the good-time gang erupted. They probably didn’t know – or maybe even cared – the shot tied the team for the lead. All they knew is they just watched one of their own do good.

Very good.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better guy in front of the hometown crowd behind No. 2, cheering Matt Rogers on and he chips it in; how ‘bout that,” McGatha said. “When we were on 3 tee starting, (Brooks and Clay) tee off first and everybody’s talking, talking, talking. Matt gets up there and it went total silence and we all went ‘Wh-a-a-a-t?’ That’s Matty Rogers respect right there at The Hill, baby. It’s kind of cool, though. It really is.

“The boy’s got a lot of respect up here and I understand it. I love it and that’s why I love playing with him.”

Rogers said he didn’t immediately notice the reactions of the two holes, but then, he’s not one to call attention to himself, much like his mentor Moore, who oversaw the operation of The Hill and influenced generations of local players from 1969 to his retirement in 2009.

But after it was brought to his attention and he really got to thinking about it, he was humbled.

“It feels nice, it feels good,” he said. “But it’s just because they know me. Those other guys they’re not going to pay attention to because they don’t know them.”

Rogers and McGatha really needed the chip-in. They came to the hole a shot behind after their playing partners parlayed Brooks’ 360-yard drive and Clay’s 115-yard sand wedge to four feet into an eagle on No. 1 to go 15-under. Meanwhile, Clay Calkins and Chris Hubbard were closing the gap in the group ahead with an eagle at No. 3 to get to 14-under.

Brooks and Clay were just off the left edge of the green on the last hole and McGatha needed to hit a mulligan off the tee to get his team in position for the chip-in. The pin was on the right side of the lower tier and McGatha’s tee shot finished about five feet off the right edge. Rogers went first and confidently used a sand wedge to cover the necessary 20 feet to the hole.

“I’m playing with the county champion, why do I have any worries?” Rogers said. “He played so good last weekend I’m just riding his coattails. He’s playing good so if I can kick in we can do pretty decent; we’ve teamed well over the years. It was good, though, especially in front of the home team up there.”

The friendly foursome fed off each other in the round the way you might expect on an intense championship Sunday. The only holes one team or the other didn’t birdie or eagle were Nos. 6 and 11. Their best-ball score was 19-under-par.

Brooks and Clay eagled 1 and 3, Rogers and McGatha eagled 3 and 13. Brooks made a 20-foot putt to save a mulligan-aided birdie on 13 after Rogers drained a 30-footer for eagle. It was like that all day.

“When you’re making birdies it’s always fun, especially with us,” Clay said. “If there’s such a thing as the Four Amigos, it’d be us, the group we played in today.”

“It’s fun every time no matter how we play,” Brooks said. “For us to come out the same score and for it to end the way it did, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It don’t get any better than that. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all buddies, but we’re trying to beat them every opportunity we get.”

NOTES: Cory Etter and Caleb Bowen are two shots back after shooting the best round of the AM shotgun (57) … Adrian Geeting and Austin Minter are another shot back (58). They parred their first four holes, then birdied 12 of their last 14 … Mike Zinn and Brian Whitley had a similar experience in shooting 61. They were even through six holes, then played their last 12 in 9-under, missing birdies only at 11, 15 and 2 … Brooks’ “absolutely smashed” drive on No. 1 easily won the PM longest drive prize; Lenn Coffey won the AM prize … Closest-to-the-pin (No. 7) prizes went to Nick Pope (AM) and Carter Gable (PM) … Longest putt (No. 6) prizes went to Gordon Stewart (AM), Andrew Tyson (PM) … Going into Sunday’s final round, tournament officials anticipate raising at least $17,000 for the event’s charities.

At Anniston Municipal GC
First-round scores

Buddy Flight
Jeremy McGatha-Matt Rogers 27-28—55
Andrew Brooks-Brennan Clay 28-27—55
Clay Calkins-Chris Hubbard 28-28—56
Cory Etter-Caleb Bowen 27-30—57
Adrian Geeting-Austin Minter 28-30—58
Daniel Clonts-Brett Key 31-30—61
Mike Zinn-Brian Whitley 33-28—61
George Salmon-Jason Johnson 32-29—61
Shane Chappell-Matt Miller 29-32—61

Maryann Flight
Allen Mangham-Chris Maye 33-29—62
Lenn Coffey-Nick Pollard 30-32—62
Warren Askew-Bruce Collins 32-30—62
Frank Brady-Landon Winfrey 32-30—62
Danny Whitaker-Cary Thomas 31-32—63
Chris Randall-James Randall 32-31—63
Nick Hubbard-Tony Hicks 32-31—63
Andrew Tyson-Guy Bradley 31-32—63
Andy Soleman-Henry Donald 31-33—64
Tony Strickland-Michael Herndon 31-33—64

Scott Flight
Jimmy Jackson-Gordon Stewart 35-31—66
David Hill-David Fitzgerald 34-32—66
Lynn Oswalt-Charles Carden 34-33—67
Carter Gable-John Roe 36-32—68
Steve McClellan-Ron Wheeler 34-34—68
Mark Gaines-Andy Jenkins 31-38—69
Tom Mullins-Henry Higginbotham 35-34—69
Tim Davis-Grady Sapp 34-35—69
Mike Braxton-Tim Mullinax 34-35—69

Angie Flight
Kelly Rogers-Elbert Rogers 36-34—70
Tom Sawyer-Trey Sawyer 36-34—70
Scott Moore-Will Prickett 37-33—70
Donnie McGinnis-Ron Dulaney 36-35—71
Steve Akers-John Harpe 36-35—71
Ted Heim-Garrett Heim 38-34—72
Jerry Dingler-David Wray 36-36—72
Steve Mullendore-Will Mullendore 36-38—74
Keith Gann-Jeff Shaddix 36-39—75
Dallas Snow-Sage Snow 36-39—75
Nick Pope-Tommy Pope 39-38—77
Ken Renfroe-Kenner Renfroe 39-41—80

Players 535 344 344 35 434 444 345 35 70

McG-Roger 423 244 233 27 433 234 234 28 55
Clay-Brook 333 334 333 28 333 333 234 27 55
Calk-Hubb 433 233 334 28 433 333 234 28 56

Brennan Clay (L) and Andrew Brooks celebrate an eagle on No. 1 that temporarily gave them the lead Saturday in the Buddy Moore Tournament.

Sunday pairings
8 a.m. shotgun
1A: Jackson-Stewart, Hill-Fitzgerald
1B: Oswalt-Carden, McClellan-Wheeler
2: Gable-Roe, Davis-Sapp
3: Braxton-Mullendore, Mullins-Higginbotham
4: Gaines-Jenkins, Mullendore-Mullendore
5: Sawyer-Sawyer, Moore-Prickett, Rogers-Rogers
6: Akers-Harpe, McGinnis-Dulaney
7: Heim-Heim, Dingler-Wray
8: Gann-Shaddix, Snow-Snow
9: Pope-Pope, Renfroe-Renfroe

1 p.m. shotgun
1: Brooks-Clay, McGatha-Rogers, Calkins-Hubbard
2: Etter-Bowen, Geeting-Minter
3: Clonts-Key, Zinn-Whitley
4: Johnson-Salmon, Chappell-Miller
5: Mangham-Maye, Brady-Winfrey
6: Coffey-Pollard, Askew-Collins
7: Whitaker-Thomas, Randall-Randall
8: Hubbard-Hicks, Tyson-Bradley
9: Herndon-Strickland, Soleman-Donald

Scott Moore (R) follows the track on his birdie putt on the 14th hole of the Buddy Moore Tournament. The event is named in memory of Moore’s father, longtime Anniston Municipal pro Buddy Moore.

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