E.A. Sports Today

High drama

Spectacular eagle on 18 caps dramatic comeback for Brooks, Clay, landing them Buddy Moore Classic title and a bit of redemption

Andrew Brooks (R) shows partner Brennan Clay the early portion of their putting line on the 17th green Sunday. They tied for the lead with a birdie on the hole.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Brennan Clay stood on the 18th hole at Anniston Municipal Sunday and said out loud to himself he hadn’t hit a meaningful shot all day. And then he hit two of them when they counted most.

The former Silver Lakes pro hit the 18th green with a high, arching approach shot from a dangerous lie and then drained a 25-foot putt for eagle after partner Andrew Brooks hit the hole, capping a dramatic comeback that lifted them to the 10th annual Buddy Moore Classic title.

The former Alexandria High School teammates, second last year in a playoff, chased down runnerups Caleb Bowen and Cory Etter on the back nine, pulled into a tie on 17 and then won by one. They posted a 13-under-par 57 for the second day in a row to finish at 114. They played the back nine in 8-under after admitting being “pretty discouraged” at being five shots behind Bowen and Etter at the turn.

“Unbelievable,” Brooks said. “Five down through 9, we were on 10 tee box and I told him we’re not giving up but I think we’re playing for second. Something either really special has to happen on our end or they have to hit a wall.”

And both things happened.

“We came into this thing we were the team to beat the way we team together,” Brooks said. “Last year we lost in a playoff and it hurt, so this is redemption in a sense. To end the way it did, that’s unbelievable, especially after my putt hit the hole dead center and he steps up there and makes the biggest putt of the weekend. How can the ending be any better?”

Bowen and Etter pulled away with four straight birdies going into the turn; they played the front in 18-under for the two days. Clay and Brooks climbed back in it with four straight birdies to open the back, while Bowen and Etter managing only one birdie over the same stretch.

In fact, it was the only birdie Bowen and Etter made over the first eight holes on the back nine after making almost everything they looked at on the front.

“What hurt us was not birdieing 12,” Etter said. “That stretch – 12, 13, 14 – you have to play those 3-under at worst (they did Saturday); we played them 1 (Sunday). We didn’t make anything on the back. For two days we shot 25-under but did not birdie the easy holes. They earned it, but I feel like we gave it away at the same time. We shot 2-under on the back nine, that’s not good at all.”

On the decisive 18th, the eventual champions chose to play Brooks’ drive after Clay drove his ball into the 6/15 fairway. But Brooks’ ball came to rest near a road sign about three feet from Johnston Drive, almost the same place Ty Cole’s drive settled in the final round of the Calhoun County Championship two weeks earlier.

After debating whether they could get relief from the sign, they took the one-club length relief allowed by tournament rules. Still, they had a 152-yard shot to an elevated pin tucked on the left side of the green and blocked by trees and power lines.

“We just wanted a putt at it,” Clay said.

Brooks hit first and his pitching wedge landed short of the green. Clay followed with a 9-iron from a yardage he said “was good for me” and lofted his ball over the trees and onto the proper green level about 25 feet from the hole.

Bowen and Etter were in a much better shape off the tee, about 140 yards out, but both had to get over the trees to attack the pin and both their second shots landed short of the green about the same place from where Etter chipped in for birdie on 9. Both of their chips for eagle just missed the hole and left about a four-foot birdie putt.

A playoff looked likely, but Clay ended that possibility. Brooks putted first and his stroke was just a tad too hard; it was on line, but powered off the back of the cup and rolled away. Clay had the benefit of seeing the line and rolled his putt a little softer for the winning eagle.

“We read a ball out first with his (Brooks),” Clay said. “As much speed as he had on it, it hit dead center and popped out, he said a half-ball more out. That’s what I tried to do and I hit it right where I wanted to.”

“That up and down from the road, they just took it, they earned it,” Bowen said. “We did our job – we were going to birdie it – but it’s a tough eagle. You’ve got to hit one great shot to make it happen and they hit the shot when they needed to make it.”

Jeremy McGatha and Matt Rogers finished third at 119 with defending champions Clay Calkins and Chris Hubbard fourth (120).

NOTES: It was Etter’s fourth runnerup finish in the tournament (two with Bowen and one each with Marcus Harrell and Brooks) … Austin Minter and Adrian Geeting shot the second-best round of the day, a 58 (28-30) to finish fifth in the Buddy (Championship) Flight … The other flight winners were Allen Mangham-Gage Miller (Maryann), David Fitzgerald-David Hill (Scott) and Lynn Oswalt-Charles Carden (Angie) … Sunday’s specialty prizes went to Will Prickett and Brooks (long drives); Ron Dulaney and Danny Whittaker (longest putts); and Ted Heim and George Salmon (closest to the pin). Heim has won five closest-to-pin prizes in his last three Calhoun County Tour events — and made the birdie putt all five times … Tournament organizers said the event raised more than $20,000 for their charities. An exact total won’t be determined until later in the week.

LEADERS 535 344 344 35 434 444 345 35 70
Brooks-Clay 324 334 344 30 323 343 333 27 57 (114)
Bowen-Etter 333 243 233 26 434 344 344 33 59 (115)

BUDDY MOORE CLASSIC
Final Results
Buddy Flight

Andrew Brooks-Brennan Clay 57-57—114
Caleb Bowen-Cory Etter 56-59—115
Jeremy McGatha-Matt Rogers 58-61—119
Clay Calkins-Chris Hubbard 61-59—120
Austin Minter-Adrian Geeting 63-58—121
Janson Wilborn-Gary Wilborn 61-63—124
Andrew Tyson-Guy Bradley 61-64—125
George Salmon-Lee Waldron 63-65—128
Steve Akers-Billy Thompson 61-67—128
Daniel Clontz-Brett Key 61-69—130

Maryann Flight
Allen Mangham-Gage Miller 66-63—129
Danny Whittaker-Gary Thomas 64-66—130
Byron Preston-Brian Simpson 65-66—131
Chip Howell-Steve Davis 65-66—131
Michael Herndon-Tony Strickland 66-66—131
Chris Randall-James Randall 64-69—133
Jackson Bonner-Tony Tomlin 65-68—133
Andy Jenkins-Mark Gaines 66-67—133
T.J. McGatha-Kelly Rogers 66-71—137
Andy Soleman-Mike Shook 66-68—134

Scott Flight
David Fitzgerald-David Hill 68-66—134
Nick Hubbard-Tony Hicks 69-66—135
Scott Moore-Will Prickett 68-68—136
Ted Heim-Garrett Heim 67-70—137
Bruce Collins-Tim Steward 67-71—139
Rick Dickson-John McKenzie 66-73—139
Steve Mullendore-Will Mullendore 68-72—140
Derek Webb-John Roe 69-72—141
Jimmy Jackson-Gordon Stewart 67-75—142
Tom Mullins-Henry Higginbotham 70-76—146

Angie Flight
Lynn Oswalt-Charles Carden 70-69—139
Ron Wheeler-Steve McClellan 70-71—141
Tim Mullendore-Mike Braxton 71-70—141
Donnie McGinnis-Ron Dulaney 70-72—142
Grady Sapp-Tim Davis 74-71—145
Steve Rogers-Keith Gann 73-73—146
Clay Bass-Patrick Madrid 77-73—150
Jay Jenkins-Matthew Wright 71-80—151
Ken Renfroe-Konner Renfroe 78-81—159
Taylor Robertson-Jeremy Tidwell 83-80—163

Cory Etter lines up his team’s birdie putt on 17 under the watchful eye of teammate Caleb Bowen. They made par and went to the 18th tied for the lead.

On the cover: Tournament champions Andrew Brooks (L) and Brennan Clay.

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