E.A. Sports Today

Redemption, ‘nuf said

Clay, McGatha get redemption from last year’s County Team Championship disappointment, win in 2018 by a shot

Brennan Clay (L) and Jeremy McGatha await their turn for McGatha’s short par putt on their 14th hole of the Calhoun County Team Championship Sunday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES – One word came immediately to Brennan Clay’s mind after he and Jeremy McGatha dropped the final putt Sunday to win the Calhoun County Team Championship.

Redemption.

One year ago, Clay missed a four-foot birdie putt at the end of regulation that would have given the partners their first two-man team title together. Instead, it prolonged the drama and they lost on the second hole of sudden death to Gary Wigington and Ty Cole.

This year was close all right, but there was no such drama and Clay and McGatha kept it in the road on the final two holes to edge the 2017 champions by one shot.

Clay and McGatha shot a final-round 64 in the scamble format on the Backbreaker and Heartbreaker 9s to finish at 20-under-par 124. Wigington and Cole made a late charge, shooting 62, but came up one short, but Wigington’s birdie on 18 did give them second place by a shot over Ott and Dalton Chandler.

“I’ve got one word to describe it – redemption,” Clay said. “I took that pretty hard.”

“We were both thinking about it from last year,” McGatha said. “Leading the tournament coming into Sunday, getting into match-play mode with our competitors and the next thing you know, Twig and Ty are shooting 11 and we got in a playoff and lost. We knew we didn’t want to get in a playoff again. We did not.”

Wigington and Cole sure tried hard to make it happen.

They started the day three shots behind Clay and McGatha and were only 1-under through six holes, but a three-putt bogey from the wrong quadrant of the green on Backbreaker 6 – after being 60 yards out off the tee – lit a fire under them. They made four straight birdies after that to get in contention and then made five over their last six holes, including the last four in a row.

The Chandlers, meanwhile, also were charging. They started four back, turned in 6-under and made three straight birdies late in the round to get to 10-under on the day. That meant Wigington had to birdie the last hole or he and Cole would finish third to the Chandlers in a scorecard playoff.

“We just didn’t give up,” Wigington said. “We just didn’t get off to a good start – the front nine killed us both days – but we just didn’t give up. It was fun (to be in the hunt). He and I play hardly at all in the winter time, so for being as rusty as we are to have a chance is all you can ask for.”

McGatha made long birdie putts on 1 and 2 to get the team off to the good start he wanted. Clay birdied all three par-5s in the four-hole stretch in the middle of the round.

Winning the first major event of the new county golf season puts Clay and McGatha in a good place going forward. They shared the best scramble round in this tournament – at the venue of the scramble format of the Sunny King Charity Classic. They were only two shots off the best scamble round, their second-day format in the Classic.

“I think it does mentally, for sure,” Clay said. “It’s a lot different coming off missing a short putt to win and then losing a playoff, too. Getting to the last hole today and securing the win is a big difference mentally for me at least to actually get a win under your belt early when we’re still not really even in golf mode. The next goal for us, obviously, is the Sunny King.”

“It’s hard to beat Ty and Twig,” McGatha said of the two-time reigning SKCC champs. “It’s early and we’ll take it, we will, but come Sunny King time we better be a little more sharper to win that one.”

Gage Smith and Tyler Jackson birdied 18 to win a three-team scorecard playoff in the second flight. Alex Harper and Austin Minter birdied 16 for second. Chris Hubbard and Chad Watson parred each of the last three holes and finished third. Lance Evans and Chandler Wilborn shot the second-best round of the day (63) and won the third flight by five shots.

CALHOUN COUNTY TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

At Silver Lakes
Final scores

First flight
Brennan Clay-Jeremy McGatha 60-64—144
Gary Wigington-Ty Cole 63-62—125
Ott Chandler-Dalton Chandler 64-62—126
Cory Etter-Caleb Bowen 63-65—128
Cypress Hathorn-Lewis LeCroy 60-69—129
Layton Bussey-Adrian Geeting 64-67—131
Gary Wilborn-Jacob LeCroy 64-72—136
Timmy Woodard-Chase Thomas 64-72—136

Second flight
Gage Smith-Tyler Jackson 67-64—131
Alex Harper-Austin Minter 67-64—131
Chris Hubbard-Chad Watson 65-66—131
Tanner Wells-Chase Hollingsworth 68-65—133
Randy Lipscomb-Casey Harmon 67-66—133
Matt Rogers-Andrew Brooks 66-69—135
Rick Okins-Kenny Okins 67-69—136
Clayton Chandler-Josh Jackson 68-69—137
Jacob Sittre-Steven Crane 67-70—137
Chad Calvert-Daily Thomas 69-69—138
Tony Hicks-Nick Hubbard 67-71—138
Kevin Daugherty-Kyle Daugherty 68-71—139
Jake Goggans-Rob Davie 69-73—142
Kaine Gibson-Don Hill 69-74—143

Third flight
Lance Evans-Chandler Wilborn 70-63—123
Justin Graveman-Patrick Crane 70-68—138
Blake Abercrombie-Alex Jessen 73-66—139
Derek Sewell-Matt Miller 73-70—143
Brian Woodfin-David Sanders 71-73—144
Graham Morrow-Kevin Rodgers 72-73—145
Ron McClellan-Ted Heim 70-77—147
Cain Hollingsworth-Taylor O’Conner 73-77—150
Jarrod Driggers-Ricky Carden 74-78—152
Kevin Wells-Mark Gaines 75-79—154

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