E.A. Sports Today

Tight at the top

Newcomers Robinson, Viehe post early 14-under for SKCC lead, two-time reigning champs Cole, Wigington match it late; 10 teams within 2 shots of lead

Gary Wigington (L) and Ty Cole line up the eagle putt on Heartbreaker 7 that gave them a share of the lead with Cody Robinson and Dustin Viehe (on the cover).

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES – Cody Robinson and Dustin Viehe made their way through the early-morning fog Friday and posted a number for everyone to shoot at. It took most of the day until someone caught them.

Robinson, a 23-year-old aspiring pro from Tallapoosa, Ga., and Viehe, a 31-year-old Navy veteran from Weaver – first time tournament partners – shot 14-under-par 58 in the leadoff pairing of the 40th Sunny King Charity Classic scramble round at Silver Lakes.

The round stood alone as the benchmark almost the whole day. Two-time reigning champions Ty Cole and Gary Wigington, playing in the middle of the afternoon wave of two-tee starts, also shot 58 to pull into a share of the overnight lead.

But it’s a slim lead. Five teams are at 13-under 59 and three are at 60, making this one of the tightest opening rounds in Sunny King Classic history in recent memory. And it got even tighter as tournament officials re-flighted the field based on scores at the conclusion of the round.

The teams at 59 are Lance Evans-Chandler Wilborn, Randy Lipscomb-Jake Nichols, Matt Miller-Derek Sewell, Chad Reavis-Ryan Howard and Kevin Daugherty-Brian Woodfin.

Four teams were tied for the lead after the opening round in 2015, when seven teams were within two shots of the lead and 12 teams were within three.

The championship flight players move to Cider Ridge Golf Club in Oxford Saturday for the modified scramble.

“We set a goal,” said Viehe, who met his partner during a charity tournament earlier this year at Mirror Lake Golf Club in Villa Rica, Ga. “We knew that kind of number was out there for us the way we were play. Our shot shape is completely opposite of each other and that gives us confidence. No matter what situation we have a shot shape for it.

“Our goal was 15 (under). We went out there and didn’t meet it, but we still put up a good number and went from there.”

A lot of credit goes to Robinson, a former college golfer who hopes to attempt PGA Qualifying School this fall for a spot on the Web.com Tour. He made a conservatively estimated 300 feet worth of putts, including a pair of 30-footers for eagle on Backbreaker 9 and Heartbreaker 7 while shooting 11-under-par on his own ball.

“He put on a putting exhibition,” Viehe said. “From about the fifth hole on his putter just got hot. I would basically show him the line and he would drain it.”

“Today went really, really well,” Robinson said. “That’s easily the best round I ever played at Silver Lakes. Out there I shoot around even par, but today I did pretty well off the tee, hit a bunch of good iron and wedge shots and everything went in for me. It feels good to put a good round together.”

Cole and Wigington might have felt better about their round had it finished a little better.

They finally caught the leaders with two holes to go in their round when Wigington made an eagle putt with his last mulligan on Heartbreaker 7 to get to 14-under. But they could only manage pars on their final two holes – despite a gutsy play off the tee by Cole on 18 – to remain tied.

They started their round with two pars – burning three of their mulligans on a five-foot birdie putt on the first hole – and ended it with two pars.

“It was a little bit of a letdown,” Wigington said. “The par-3s can be tough to birdie anyway, but the last one just kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Fifteen under would have been a really good score. We had three eagles … but outside of that it was not very good.”

They came to the 18th – Heartbreaker 9 – needing a birdie to grab the outright overnight lead and Cole was going to give them a chance to make it. He took out drive on the 353-yard hole and nearly made the green, his shot landing on the bank between the green and hazard line two quadrants away from the pin.

Wigington chipped first and his ball rolled past the hole, then Cole’s shot checked before clearing the ridge just as the weather warning sounded. Cole was determined to finish the hole and both their birdie putts slid past the hole. Wigington made the putt coming back for par.

“I was trying to make an easy birdie and it turned out we had to make a four-footer for par; we could’ve done that from 150,” Cole said. “It’s kind of one of those things when you’ve got somebody out there 120 (in) and the wind behind us why not try?

“We tried the same thing last year. It’s supposed to be an easier birdie. Maybe if the pin were in a different place, closer to where the ball ended up, it would’ve been fine. As it turned out, it was a hard chip shot.

“It’s not so much leaving there not having the lead, it’s when you hit the ball on the fringe from 350 and don’t make birdie, that’s what makes you mad. There have been a lot of people who win this tournament who didn’t lead the first day.”

Here are the highlights of the 59s.

Evans and Wilborn were only 2-under through six holes, using all their mulligans on the first two holes, eagled Heartbreaker 7 and then birdied nine of their last 10 holes. “Standing on 4 tee if you told us we’d shoot 10 under I’d have taken it,” Evans said.

Daugherty-Woodfin started their round with nine straight 3s. Lipscomb-Nichols turned in 8-under and feel good about their position heading to Cider Ridge where they’ve typically enjoyed good success. Miller-Sewell and Howard-Reavis both birdied 10 of their last 12 holes.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login