E.A. Sports Today

Cole’s quiet 63

Ty Cole opens 3-shot lead after 9-under 63 with two eagles; plays holes 12-15 in 5-under; McGatha second (66)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

If there ever is such a thing as a quiet 63, Ty Cole delivered it Saturday in the opening round of the FMCU Cane Creek Invitational.

Cole matched his best score on the Calhoun County Golf Tour with a round that included six birdies and two eagles, including a chip-in 2 on his first hole of the day.

It was so routine in its execution the players in his group were saying things like “it just snuck up on you” and “you’d have never known it.”

Jeremy McGatha shot an equally impressive 66 that would have been good enough to lead most tournaments, but going into Championship Sunday is three shots back. The reigning Calhoun County champion had six birdies and an eagle and two bogeys.

Gary Wigington is third at 68 and Randy Lipscomb, the first-round leader in the County Tour opener at Cider Ridge last month, is fourth at 72.

“It was fine,” Cole said. “You hate to complain about a 63, but it probably could have been one or two better.”

Cole’s last 63 on the County Tour came in the first round of last year’s Pine Hill Invitational. He last had two eagles in a Tour round in the second round of last year’s Silver Lakes Championship

Cole’s round got off to a rousing start with a 66-yard hole-out for eagle on the first hole and a birdie at 2. He turned in 4-under. The highlight of the round, however, came on the back, a four-hole stretch after his only bogey of the day (from 100 yards out) in which he went birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie.

“I feel good over the putts again,” he said. “I feel like I did two years ago when I won those (three straight Tour events and six straight) invitationals. I’m starting to feel the same way on the greens again.”

Actually, he figured it out earlier this week while he was practicing for U.S. Open local qualifying at Silver Lakes. He discovered he was standing too close to the ball when he putted. He used the new approach in the qualifier and Saturday had nine one-putt greens and 25 total putts.

“When I putt my best my ball is actually outside my eye line,” Cole explained. “All the putting gurus say you’re supposed to have your eyes directly over the ball. Mine is just outside the eye line (because) that’s where my putter swings the most freely.

“I kept missing putts and I just went up and kind of slapped at one and my stroke felt different. I was further away from it. I got back over the next ball and backed up and a bell went off. My stroke was a lot more free; on plane. It wasn’t pushing or pulling; it was back and through. I wish I would’ve figured it out before Cider Ridge.”

The putter – or rather the putter grip – made a big difference in McGatha’s round. The grip on his 20-year-old putter was in desperate need of replacement – “it was time,” he said — so he picked one up at the PGA Superstore while accompanying his daughter on her school field trip.

It wasn’t until he put it on the club did he realize the grip was slightly fatter than normal. He played with it Friday and shot 73 with 36 putts. On Saturday, he shot his best score since a 61 in the opening round of the 2016 County Tournament at The Hill (21 Tour rounds) and had 26 putts.

He made a 25-footer from the fringe on 14 for eagle and followed it with birdies on the next two holes and had two makeable birdie putts on 17 and 18.

“I’m liable to shoot 80 tomorrow; it’s just one of those things, man,” McGatha said. “I’m OCD, a creature of habit, and I don’t like change. And I changed this putter grip and shoot 73 with 36 putts, I’m thinking I don’t have a chance, and then I shoot 66 today. It’s kind of comical.”

Saturday’s scores
(Flights will be posted at course)

Ty Cole 32-31—63
Jeremy McGatha 34-32—66
Gary Wigington 34-34—68
Randy Lipscomb 37-35—72
Brennan Clay 36-37—73
Adrian Geeting 36-37—73
Jerome Wilson 37-36—73
Kenny Wright 39-34—73
Chad Calvert 37-36—73
Tanner Wells 39-34—73
Matt Rogers 38-36—74
Caleb Bowen 41-34—75
Kaine Gibson 38-37—75
Chip Howell 37-38—75
Kevin Rogers 37-38—75
Norris Ray 36-40—76
Andrew Brooks 39-38—77
Walt Drake 39-39—78
Landon Straub 37-41—78
Daily Thomas 39-39—78
Scotty Grimes 40-39—79
Jeff Borrelli 38-42—80
Jansen Wilborn 39-41—80
John McKenzie 44-37—81
Clay Calkins 36-45—81
Vince Floyd 39-44—83
Rocco D’Gomez 41-44—85
David Martin 42-43—85
Jono Waugh 44-42—86
Tyler Teneyck 41-45—86
Jimmy Jackson 42-46—88
T.J. McGatha 44-45—89
Mark Gaines 47-42—89
Kelly Rogers 44-47—91
Clark Cunningham 46-46—92
Larry Cunningham 46-50—96
Ron McKinney 54-46—100
Fran Doyle 49-52—101
Ron Seckinger 56-51—107

Leaders 443 453 454 36 443 453 445 36 72

Ty Cole 233 453 444 32 452 332 444 31 63
McGatha 434 353 543 34 443 432 345 32 66
Wigngtn 433 542 463 34 443 443 444 34 68

Sunday’s tee times
8 a.m. – Denny Seckinger, Fran Doyle, Ron McKinney
8:10 – Larry Cunningham, Clark Cunningham, Kelly Rogers
8:20 – T.J. McGatha, Jimmy Jackson, Tyler Tenecyk, Jono Waugh.
8:30 – Mark Gaines, David Martin, Rocco D’Gomez.
8:40 – Vince Floyd, Clay Calkins, John McKenzie.
8:50 – Jansen Wilborn, Jeff Borrelli, Scotty Grimes.
9:00 – Starters Time
9:10 – Daily Thomas, Landon Straub, Walt Drake
9:20 – Andrew Brooks, Norris Ray, Kevin Rogers
9:30 – Chip Howell, Kaine Gibson, Caleb Bowen, Matt Rogers
9:40 – Tanner Wells, Chad Calbert, Kenny Wright
9:50 – Jerome Wilson, Adrian Geeting, Brennan Clay
10:00 – Randy Lipscomb, Gary Wigington, Jeremy McGatha, Ty Cole

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