E.A. Sports Today

Finish with a flourish

Wigington birdies four of his last five holes, holds a two-shot lead over Cole in Etowah County Open

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
GLENCOE – After the way his last tournament ended, Gary Wigington was eager to return to the golf course.
The last time we saw the future Calhoun County Hall of Famer on Championship Sunday a sudden gust of wind knocked what looked to be a perfect approach into the 18th green at Silver Lakes into the edge of the pond. It left him with an awkward watery recovery that came out hot and eventually led to a runner-up finish.
Fast forward to Saturday. The bad luck might have appeared to follow him to the Etowah County Open with a bogey on his first hole at the Links at Briarmeade, but after that he played a “solid” round of golf and had a torrid finish to shoot 7-under-par 64 and take a two-shot lead over Ty Cole, the Sunny King Charity Classic partner who benefitted from his misfortune on that final hole at Silver Lakes.
“That always leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but I’ve gotten past it,” Wigington said. “Somebody was asking me about it today and I said there wasn’t much I could do differently. I didn’t hit a bad shot either time.
“This week I’ve played a good bit getting ready for it; I wanted to play good. Like I said it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you feel like you give it away, but there wasn’t much I could do for what I was trying to do. Today, it was a bad decision on 1 – I should’ve just chipped it up there by the green – and the rest of the time was just steady.”
Randy Lipscomb and Chad Calvert, who both played in the first group of the day, shot 68 and 69, respectively and will complete the final group Sunday. 
Wigington had nine birdies in his round and he closed with a flourish, making birdies on four of his last five holes (14, 15, 17, 18). He had wedges into both par-5s on the back, hit 14 greens in the round and took only 24 putts.
Cole, meanwhile, climbed into contention after back-to-back bogeys to open the back nine dropped him back to even par. He made a miraculous par save on 12, then went birdie-eagle, leaving his bid for eagle on 13 one roll short.
He parred the par-3 15th, then birdied 16 and 17 to get to 5-under. He nearly drove the green on 18, but his ball landed in some mud left by a mid-afternoon thunderstorm and with not much chance to get anything on the ball his chip to set up no worse than an easy birdie came up short of the green. He then pitched past the hole and made a seven-footer coming back for a closing par that blunted an otherwise torrid finish.
“The front nine killed me,” he said. “To turn 2-under playing crappy, then you get a crappy kick out of bounds (on 10) and bogey the next one and you’re standing on 12 tee even par, to come in at 5-under on the last seven is pretty good.”
Part of his trouble was introducing a new driver to his bag three days before the tournament. He planned to put a different shaft in the club overnight so he’ll play a driver he had never hit before when he gets to the course Sunday.
“It’s not going to be any worse than that one,” he said.
Lipscomb had some extra incentive to play a good round. An “honest mistake” regarding tees in the championship flight led to the two-time past champion’s (2002-03) disqualification last year. But more than that, it’s being back on home turf that motivated him to play well.
“I kind of grew up out here; me and Ty, several of us, grew up out here,” he said. “I play Calhoun County most of the time. When you come up here you want to play well when you’re on your home turf, so it’s more about that than the other.”
His 68 featured five birdies and an eagle and could have been better had he not tripled No. 3. He found the hazard off the tee he hit 3-wood to avoid, his drop landed in a hole and he bladed his recovery. But he bounced back from the hiccup with a birdie at 4 and played his last 11 holes in 4-under.
“I’ve been 1-over a bunch of times without tripling through 4,” he said, “so it wasn’t that big of a deal at that point.”
NOTES: It will be the 11thtime in 38 tournaments since 2015 Twig and Ty have been paired together in the final group on the final day of a County Tour event, but only the third time since 2018. Wigington has posted the better score in six of those rounds, but Cole has raised the championship trophy after each of the last four … The 12 players in the Championship A flight played the final five holes Saturday in 31-under-par … Chris Leonhardt was 4-over through 13, then finished with three birdies and an eagle on his last five to shoot 70 and get into Championship A. Robin Wood was 3-over after four and 4-over on the front, but birdied four of his last five holes to shoot 73 and get into Championship B … There were five eagles in the round (Cole, Lipscomb, Leonhardt, Mason Dennis, Josh Ashley) – four on the par-5 14thand one of the par-4 18th.  

At The Links at Briarmeade 
First-round scores
Championship A
Gary Wigington 33-31—64
Ty Cole 33-33—66
Randy Lipscomb 35-33—68
Chad Calvert 35-34—69
Chris Cox 36-33—69
Jeremy McGatha 35-34—69
Charlie Smith 36-33—69
Tee Brown 34-36—70
Chris Leonhardt 37-33—70
Gage Miller 36-34—70
Mason Dennis 35-35—70
Chad Hare 34-46—70
Championship B
Larry Moon 34-37—71
Frank Brady 35-36—71
Patrick Cooper 36-35—71
Alan Smedley 36-35—71
Brad Baird 36-36—72
Brennan Clay 35-37—72
Harrison Martin 37-35—72
Norman Clifton 37-36—73
Robin Wood 39-34—73
Luke Armstrong 37-36—73
Josh Ashley 37-36—73
Sam Bone 37-37—74
Dane Moore 37-37—74
Bill Gilchrist 39-35—74
Tony Hicks 37-37—74
Blake Grisham 36-38—74
Ted Heim 37-37—74
First flight
Opie Teague 37-38—75
Justin Wood 36-39—75
Drey Reeves 36-39—75
Matt Rogers 35-40—75
Josh Hicks 36-39—75
Lamar Carter 38-38—76
Neal Keener 38-38—76
Greg Brannon 36-42—78
Eric Ray 38-40—78
Tim Gables 39-39—78
Scott Medders 37-41—78
Richard Johnson 42-36—78
Second flight
Chris Hubbard 44-35—79
Chuck Medders 41-38—79
Jeff McRae 40-39—79
Chad Maples 39-41—80
Craig Colvard 41-39—80
Jesse Rawls 43-38—81
Morgan Cunningham 40-41—81
Craig Graves 39-42—81
Rush Rutledge 41-40—81
Greg Hare 41-40—81
Nick Pollard 43-39—82
Wesley Watkins 40-42—82

Third flight
Ray Strawbridge 41-42—83
Phillip Eades 38-45—83
J.R. Morris 38-45—83
Turner Shankles 42-42—84
Blake Erwin 42-41—84
David Lipscomb 41-43—84
Luke Haynie 41-43—84
Frank Barnes 45-39—84
John Hill 42-43—85
Danny Whittaker 39-46—85
Chris Holderfield 42-43—85
Fourth flight
Jake Pennington 45-41—86
Alex Grisham 43-43—86
Lenn Coffey 48-38—86
Justin Graham 45-41—86
Greg Davenport 44-43—87
Jeff Barnwell 45-43—88
Jeff Noah 46-43—89
Kelly Rogers 45-45—90
Logan Steele 46-45—91
Dani Bone 44-47—91
Andy Quinn 46-45—91
Ryan Moore 48-44—92
Gary Singleton 49-44—93
Leon Gladden 47-46—93
Braden Lang 51-47—98
Jeff Lasseter 52-49—101
Sunday’s tee times
8 a.m. – Jeff Lasseter, Braden Lang, Leon Gladden, Gary Singleton
8:10 – Ryan Moore, Andy Quinn, Dani Bone, Logan Steele
8:20 – Kelly Rogers, Jeff Noah, Jeff Barnwell, Greg Davenport
8:30 – Justin Graham, Lenn Coffey, Alex Grisham, Jake Pennington
8:50 – Chris Holderfield, Danny Whittaker, John Hill
9:00 – Frank Barnes, Luke Haney, David Lipscomb, Blake Erwin
9:10 – Turner Shankles, J.R. Morris, Phillip Eades, Ray Strawbridge
9:30 – Wesley Watkins, Nick Pollard, Greg Hare, Morgan Cunningham
9:40 – Jesse Rawls, Rush Rutledge, Craig Graves, Chad Maples
9:50 – Craig Colvard, Chris Hubbard, Chuck Medders, Jeff McRae
10:30 – Richard Johnson, Scott Medders, Tim Gables, Greg Brannon
10:40 – Eric Ray, Neal Keener, Lamar Carter, Opie Teague
10:50 – Matt Rogers, Drey Reeves, Justin Wood, Josh Hicks
11:30 – Ted Heim, Blake Grisham, Tony Hicks
11:40 – Bill Gilchrist, Dane Moore, Sam Bone
11:50 – Luke Armstrong, Robin Wood, Norman Clifton
Noon – Josh Ashley, Harrison Martin, Brennan Clay, Alan Smedley
12:10 p.m. – Patrick Cooper, Frank Brady, Larry Moon, Brad Baird
12:50 – Chad Hare, Mason Dennis, Gage Miller, Chris Leonhardt
1:00 – Tee Brown, Charlie Smith, Jeremy McGatha, Chris Cox
1:10 – Chad Calvert, Randy Lipscomb, Ty Cole, Gary Wigington

You must be logged in to post a comment Login