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Calvert smooth

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Boaz course superintendent takes out two top County Tour players to win Match Play title, beats Wigington in final

Chad Calvert (L) chips onto the eighth green during his County Match Play title match with Gary Wigington.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It has been a while since Chad Calvert felt this good on a golf course — about as long as it’s been since he felt he’s played good golf.

He played pretty good golf at Anniston Municipal Sunday — the whole weekend, really — beating two of the top players on the Calhoun County Golf Tour to win the Calhoun County Match Play Championship.

Calvert, the No. 8 seed, beat good friend and carpool partner Ty Cole in the semifinals 5 & 3, and then birdied four of his last six holes in the championship match to defeat second-seeded defending champion Gary Wigington 1 up. It was his third win on the County Tour and first since the 2016 opener.

“It feels good to play good golf again,” Calvert said. “For the last two years I haven’t, but it does feel good to play good golf and play against the guys I played against and win.

“Overall, I’m happy with the way I played this weekend. I hit the driver really well, put it in play where I had to and really didn’t make any stupid mistakes.”

Calvert’s return to form has been a work in progress. The line of demarcation came May 1 when the 46-year-old course superintendent decided to take ownership of his health. He’s lost 57 pounds and his scores have been dropping accordingly.

In his three Calhoun County Tour starts after May 1, he finished T-5 (Silver Lakes), T-7 (Pine Hill) and third (Cane Creek), shooting a cumulative 11-under-par; he did not play in the County Championship. And that doesn’t count finishing second in Centre, starting 72-72 in the Gadsden Invitational and finishing third in the Etowah Open.

In his three pre-May Tour events — two of which he had won previously — he was fourth at Indian Oaks (2016 win), T-13 at Cider Ridge (2014 win) and T-6 at Anniston Country Club with a cumulative score of 24-over. He averaged 27 putts a round and made 27 birdies in those last three events compared to 30.3 average putts and 16 birdies in the first three.

“Losing 57 pounds, I’m not tired anymore at the end of the round and trying to stay in it,” he said. “I just felt good this week, had confidence going into it.

“The main thing is, having to take the medicine now and not doing all the crazy stuff anymore I have a lot more energy at the end of the round so I’m not tiring out. I still have a lot left to give at the end of the round where before I was struggling to finish.”

His stamina certainly was a factor against Wigington, who was bidding to win his third County Match Play title and second in a month. The title match was tight throughout with neither player leading by more than one hole through the first 12 holes.

It was all square through 12, then Calvert made back-to-back birdies to seize control. Wigington won 15, but Calvert got the hole back with a long birdie putt on 16. Wigington won 17 to keep it going and needed to win the par-5 18th where he dispatched Jeremy McGatha in the semifinals to extend the match, but Calvert nearly holed his short chip into the green and the birdie was conceded to end it.

Wigington was plagued with a balky putter. He let Calvert back in the opening hole with a three-putt par and missed a couple short ones that let holes get away.

“I started putting bad at the County and it just hadn’t gotten any better,” Wigington said. “You just can’t miss them with the caliber of players we’re playing with. I could never get the putting going like it had been. Just inconsistent.”

He did, however, leave the course with the crystal for winning the 2016 Match Play Championship, an event that reached its conclusion only last month. Calvert, meanwhile, will get his when the County Tour recognizes its award winners in the spring.

“To beat two of the best champions this tour has seen, that’s a boost going into next season,” 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
(2) Gary Wigington def. (3) Jeremy McGatha, 1 up
(8) Chad Calvert def. (5) Ty Cole, 5 & 3

Championship match
(8) Chad Calvert def. (2) Gary Wigington, 1 up

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