E.A. Sports Today

It’s a 10

Smith wins Etowah County Open for 10th time, edges Chad Calvert in a three-hole playoff

Scott Smith putts for birdie from the collar of the 17th green in the Etowah County Open Sunday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GLENCOE – It had been a while since Scott Smith last won the Etowah County Open, so what were a couple extra holes.

The 56-year-old Smith, the club’s former pro, came back from Arkansas to win the tournament for the 10th time Sunday, taking a three-hole aggregate playoff from Chad Calvert by one shot (12-13) at the Links at Briarmeade.

“It’s funny because I was talking with Scott Hopper and the last playoff I had was with him and another guy who’s a member here back … a long time ago,” Smith said.

Smith, who won eight times from 1983 to 2008 and got his ninth in 2015, and Calvert finished regulation in 6-under-par 136, two shots ahead of first-round co-leader John Turnipseed.

Calvert, the 2016 champion, jumped out front in the playoff with a birdie on the first hole (No. 10), the only time he led Sunday. Smith overtook the lead with a birdie to Calvert’s bogey on the par-5 17th and both players parred 18.

The win drew Smith within one of the all-time tournament record, held by Stanley Hawkins, seven years his senior. And he still has the hardware at home from each of them.

“I’m one of the ones who keeps all that stuff and I’ve got them all,” Smith said of the trophies. “My kids get a big kick out of it.”

If not for a bit of bad luck for his opponent in the playoff he might have gone back to Hot Springs empty handed.

Calvert came from three shots back early in the round and two down with six holes to play to get in the playoff; his 69 was the best round of the day in the Championship Flight. Every time he needed a shot down the stretch he pulled it off, whether it was a shot into the green or a clutch putt.

On 13, he hit his approach shot close to make birdie and pull into a tie for the lead. He hit it close on 14 to match Smith’s birdie and stay even, made a six-foot putt to save par on 15, pitched close after leaving his approach short on 16 and made a must-have eight-footer for par on 18 to force the playoff.

Between that and the fact he was having a hard time getting the speed of the greens, Smith never felt truly comfortable with the lead and couldn’t risk a lapse in focus.

“I knew since I was not making birdies if I made a bogey somewhere it would be tough to keep up because he’s not making bogeys,” Smith said. “He hit a great second shot on 9, several par putts. Every time I think I ever played with him he’s done that. He’s just a really good putter, (and has) a really good short game.”

Calvert took a one-shot lead in the playoff when he birdied the first hole and “felt confident I was going to win” after pumping his drive on the next hole down the middle with Smith missing the fairway.

As good a drive as he had, Calvert was in between clubs on his second shot and came over the top on the longer selection, pulling the ball left of the green that left him with an awkward stance. He nearly pulled off the next shot, but it didn’t quite have enough to reach the green and rolled back towards him. The next shot met the same fate and he eventually made a bogey.

Smith’s shot from the rough, meanwhile, followed Calvert’s second shot to the left, but left him a flatter stance even if he was on the short side of the hole. He created a shot, bumping an 8-iron up onto the green, and made the putt for birdie.

“I knew I couldn’t hit it high and stop it within 20 feet, and I didn’t feel confident about even hitting the green honestly from there,” Smith said. “It was a great shot for me. Growing up out here years ago we used to hit a lot of shots like that. You don’t hit those shots really any more. It was a good shot.”

Smith’s drive on 18 left him in the same position right of the green he was off the tee on the final hole of regulation and had a huge advantage after Calvert topped his drive. Calvert hit a great shot to find the green and had everyone holding their breath as his long birdie putt just turned away at the hole.

Smith’s second shot rolled past the hole just off the green. He nudged his birdie attempt close to the hole, leaving only a tap-in to clinch the title.

“The last two weeks I put back-to-back rounds together under par; that’s what I can take away from this,” Calvert said, alluding to his 8-under T-4 in the Calhoun County Championship. “It hurts the way I lost and I’m disappointed – it was in my grasp to take it; I didn’t – but the last two weekends I played some good golf, to where the whole year I was very inconsistent.”

NOTES: Calvert returns to Calhoun County in three weeks to defend his title in the County Match Play Championship. He is the fifth seed. … The other flight winners were Brad Baird (First), Jay Shields (Second), Neal Keener (Seniors) and Phillip Eades (Super Seniors).

Chad Calvert gets ready to make a clutch par putt on 18 Sunday to send the Etowah County Open to a playoff.

Championship Flight

x-Scott Smith 65-71—136
Chad Calvert 67-69—136
John Turnipseed 65-73—138
Tee Brown 67-73—140
Trent Ralston 71-72—143
Randy Lipscomb 71-74—145
Jack Sims 71-76—147
Jake Ball 72-75—147
Chad Hare 70-79—149
x-wins three-hole playoff 12-13 (Smith 4-4-4, Calvert 3-6-4)

First Flight
Brad Baird 74-67—141
Stephen Keen 77-69—146
Randy Spurlin 78-73—151
Dane Moore 76-75—151
Eric West 75-77—152
Jeff Noah 79-73—152
Blake Grisham 79-75—154
Clay Smith 77-77—154
Michael Rich 74-80—154
Kenny Fulmer 74-81—155
Mark Spurlock 78-78—156
Daily Thomas 73-83—156
Bill Gilchrist 76-81—157
Chris Sanford 76-83—159
Craig Graves 78-81—159
Mark Cantrell 75-86—161
Mason Dennis 75-86—161
Sam Bone 79-83—162
Stanley Hawkins 78-84—162
Kyle Rosenbauer 78-90—168
Jake Pennington 79-90—169

Second Flight
Jay Shields 80-76—156
Jeff Hammontree 84-81—165
Frank Barnes 84-82—166
Will Farley 85-81—166
Dale Owens 81-89—170
Andy Quinn 89-82—171
Tim Smith 83-88—171
Jason Shields 83-88—171
Rusty Freeman 88-84—172
Greg Hare 83-90—173
Paul Yancy 84-90—174
Blake Lipscomb 91-88—179
Casey Downs 91-103—194
Craig Watts 82-WD

Seniors Flight
Neal Keener 72-74—146
Larry Gilchrist 79-72—151
Jeff McRae 75-77—152
Gary Hopper 76-77—153
Wesley Watkins 76-80—156
George Morris 82-77—159
Eric Hoskins 79-81—160
Mark Suddeth 82-79—161
Greg Ford 79-83—162
David Bowman 85-78—163
Jeff Laseter 87-81—168
Dani Bone 89-95—184

Super Seniors Flight
Phillip Eades 74-77—151
Mike Estes 76-75—151
Graig Colvard 75-76—151
B.J. Freeman 76-77—153
Wayne Ball 79-79—158
Ferell Jones 83-75—158
Larry Moon 90-75—160
Donnie Sutton 85-80—165
Jesse Rawls 82-86—168
Frankie Leath 82-89—171

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