E.A. Sports Today

Familiar foes

Both sets of Sunday semifinalists in the Calhoun County Match Play Championship know each other well on and off the course

Ty Cole (L) and Chad Calvert drove together to the opening day of the Calhoun County Match Play Championship. On Sunday they’ll play each other for a spot in the finals.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There’s going to be a real comfortable feeling within the tension of Sunday’s semifinal matches in the Calhoun County Match Play Championship.

Both sets of competitors are real familiar with each other’s personalities and games. And while they may be golfing buddies and close friends off the course, make no mistake, the urge to beat the other into submission on Championship Sunday will be very, very real.

The Final Four in the 2017 Match Play pits defending champion Gary Wigington against reigning Calhoun County champion Jeremy McGatha, and two-time County Player of the Year Ty Cole against two-time County Tour winner Chad Calvert.

Cole and Calvert play a lot of golf together in Marshall County. They have battled it out and swapped titles in several area invitationals and just recently played as partners in the Burningtree Invitational.

“Oh, it’s going to be gamesmanship tomorrow,” Calvert said.

The Wigington-McGatha match is a rematch of the 2016 — yes, 2016 — Match Play semifinals that was played only three weeks ago. Wigington shot 60 that day and won the match 6 & 5.

“Here lately we’re always playing each other in the semis,” McGatha said. “It seems to always be me and Twig to fight out who gets to the finals. I’ve never made the final match; it’s a goal of mine. I’d love to win the County Match Play. In 20 years when we’re playing the 29th Match Play I’d like to have my name on there at one point; I’m running out of time.”

McGatha reached this year’s semifinals with a 2 & 1 win over Clay Calkins in the opening round and 6 & 5 win over 2014 champion Andrew Brooks. He won the first five holes against Brooks and had only one bogey in two matches.

“If I can do that tomorrow maybe I’ve got a chance,” he said.

Wigington will be a tough out. He has won the Match Play twice and been runner-up once. He earned his spot with an 8 & 7 win over Austin Minter and a walkover after Caleb McKinney withdrew over a scheduling conflict after beating Caleb Bowen in an authorized midweek match.

“It should be a really good match and I will have to play really good to have a chance to win,” Wigington said. “It’s odd to play the same person in the semis back-to-back like that and it’s always fun to play with Jeremy.”

Cole edged Jonathan Pate in the opening round 1 up and took down Brennan Clay 5 & 4 in the quarterfinals. Clay jumped out 2-up after two holes, but Cole got the match all square through eight and then won the next three holes and five of the next six to win.

“I hit a few good shots and then Brennan had a couple bad breaks,” Cole said. “You know how it is in match play, it doesn’t take much. It’s not like either one of us played bad, it’s just a bounce here, a shot there makes a big difference in match play.”

In his first ever rounds at The Hill, Calvert defeated Adrian Geeting 2-up and Tanner Wells 5 & 3. He took the lead against Wells with a birdie on 8 and went 2-up with a chip-in birdie on 9. He was 1-up after 11, then birdied three of the next five holes, winning four of them.

“It feels good playing good again,” Calvert said.

CALHOUN COUNTY MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
At Anniston Municipal GC
Buddy Moore Bracket

(16) Tanner Wells def. (21) Kelly Rogers, 4 & 3
(8) Chad Calvert def. (9) Adrian Geeting, 2 up
(5) Ty Cole def. (17) Jonathan Pate, 1 up
(4) Brennan Clay def. (13) Billy Thompson, 2 & 1
Chris Banister Bracket
(6) Andrew Brooks def. (11) Matt Rogers, 5 & 4
(3) Jeremy McGatha def. (14) Clay Calkins, 2 & 1
(7) Caleb McKinney def. (10) Caleb Bowen, 3 & 2
(2) Gary Wigington def. (20) Austin Minter, 8 & 7

Quarterfinals
Chad Calvert def. Tanner Wells, 5 & 3
Ty Cole def. Brennan Clay, 5 & 4
Jeremy McGatha def. Andrew Brooks, 6 & 5
Gary Wigington over Caleb McKinney, default

Sunday semifinals
(3) Jeremy McGatha vs. (2) Gary Wigington, 9 a.m.
(8) Chad Calvert vs. (5) Ty Cole, 9:10 a.m.
Championship match to follow

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