E.A. Sports Today

Twig takes 20th

Wigington comes from 6 shots back to win fourth straight County Tour event, 20th all-time

By Al Muskewitz/East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – When Gary Wigington arrived at the golf course Sunday afternoon he was just hoping to get as close to the lead as he could and pick up as many points as possible to pad his lead in the Player of the Year standings.

Five hours later he left with an improbable victory that made him the Calhoun County Golf Tour’s all time wins leader again and moved him even close to the Player of the Year.

Wigington won his fourth straight Tour event and 20th all-time when he scored a one-shot victory over Jeremy McGatha in the Cider Ridge Invitational. Improbable in the fact he started the day six shots off the lead and had eight players ahead of him.

The 51-year-old shot a final-round 69 to finish the tournament at 2-under-par 142. He had won at Briarmeade, Anniston Country Club and Pine Hill coming into this weekend’s event. He is the first player in Tour history to win four in a row.

McGatha shot 74 and finished at 143. He was at 5-under with a three-shot lead through 12, but played the next four holes in 4-over-par and had to make birdie on 18 to force a playoff. 

“It was pretty improbable,” said Wigington, who couldn’t recall ever coming back from as large a deficit to win. “My goal was, to think that I had any kind of shot at all, I just felt like I had to shoot 67, bare minimum.

“If I shot 67 I thought I might have a chance to get a second place; you just can’t expect the top five players who have a several-shot lead on you, you can’t expect all of them to not play good. I really thought 67 may put me up to second place and if I had a better day then who knows. It was a back door win, I guess you could say.”

It was such an improbable victory, Wigington had left the property and was slowly making his way down Sunny Eve Road (in the event he had to turn around) while McGatha was playing his final hole.

For McGatha, it was his 19thsecond-place finish in 105 career County Tour starts and may have been the bitterest to swallow.

With first-round leader Adrian Geeting and mid-round leader Andrew Brooks faltering early, McGatha steadily climbed up the leaderboard with three birdies on the front nine. He turned in 34 that gave him a three-shot lead on Frank Brady and Wigington and a four-shot lead on Geeting.

But things started to unravel on 13. McGatha felt good about his driver all week and went with it on 13, but the shot took a big kick over the fairway bunker into the hazard and he had to take a drop. He pitched it over the green, then pitched on to two feet, but suffered a violent lip-out on a choppy bogey putt. His strong 9-iron into 14 landed in the back fringe, from where he two-putted for par.

His lob wedge from 92 yards into 15 landed at the base of the greenside fan. He took relief, but his chip barely got on the green and his putt for par rolled over the hole. Then on 16, as the rain and wind picked up, he hit the wrong club off the tee because of what happened on 13, his second shot was short and he pitched through the green eventually making another bogey.

By then, Wigington had made a two-putt birdie on 18 to take his first lead of the day. McGatha parred 17 and had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie on 18. His second shot settled in a hole behind the greenside bunker, but he was able to pop it onto the green giving him a shot at the birdie. He was 10 feet behind the hole, but his stopped one roll short of dropping.

“I played those freaking four holes in 4-over; you talk about choking, I just choked,” McGatha said. “You can say it – I choked. You go 5-under and a three- or four-shot lead and just blow it, it’s hard to swallow. It’s tough.

“I thought – maybe that’s the problem – this is mine (early on). I never really think that. I’m always super cautious, never really negative, but golf can bite you in the butt the minute you think you’ve got it and people who play golf understand that. I never thought I had it, but I felt good about my game. I still do. I’m hitting the ball really well. I just blew it.

“I’m a stats guy. I was so wanting to get to (Tour win) No. 11, trying to catch (all-time wins leaders Wigington and Ty Cole) at 19. Here I am the underdog always. They hit it a mile and I don’t, and when I finally got it in my grasp, I blow it. And you can quote me: I blew it.”

McGatha’s double bogey brought Brady into the battle and he stayed right there until taking an 8 on 16. The rain started picking up just as the players were hitting their second shots there and slick grips contributed to a poor swing that sent Brady’s shot into a tree and into the hazard. He sent his next shot into the high grass behind the green.

“It was a lot of fun playing with the guys I was playing with; high caliber players and I just enjoyed the opportunity to be in the last group,” Brady said. “Things kind of came unglued on 16 and that’s golf. I enjoyed the round and enjoyed the competition, just fell a little short.”

Geeting and Brooks had trouble out of the gate and never recovered. Geeting hit his opening drive out of bounds and made double bogey to start. He was 4-over through four holes. Both players were 5-over through seven holes and both shot 80.

“I just made some bad mistakes,” Geeting said. “Hit the wrong club a few times and it cost me. You get too far behind and it snowballs.”

NOTES: Cameron McCareeth finished third. The former Calhoun County high school champion shot a final-round 75 and finished at 1-over 145 … David Sanders won the Senior Division by four shots … Ty Cole shot the best round of the day (68) to win the Third Flight after an uncharacteristic 79 in the opening round … Casey Harmon had the best bounce-back, posting an 82 after an opening-round 96 to win the Seventh Flight … Wigington, Cole and McGatha have won 49 of the 105 events played on the County Tour. The remainder have been won by 18 players … The next event on the schedule is the Gadsden Invitational, which starts Friday.


At Cider Ridge GC, Oxford

Final scores

Championship flight

Gary Wigington 73-69—142

Jeremy McGatha 69-74—143

Cameron McCareeth 70-75—145

Adrian Geeting 67-80—147

Andrew Brooks 68-80—148

Peyton Bradley 71-77—148

Frank Brady 70-79—149

Charlie Smith 72-77—149

Brennan Clay 74-78—152

Jake Goggans 73-80—153

Wesley Jenkins 72-91—163

Mason Dennis 73-WD

First flight

Johnathan Pate 74-75—149

Brian Baugh 74-75—149

Jeff Bain 74-76—150

Randy Archer 74-77—151

Landon Winfrey 75-76—151

Mark McCaig 74-81—155

Kenneth Patterson 75-80—155

Ott Chandler 75-80—155

Jackson Stephens 74-83—157

Second flight

Tanner Wells 76-72—148

Chad Calvert 76-72—148

Chris Hummel 77-71—148

Shawn Ledbetter 78-72—150

Tyler Putnam 77-74—151

Caleb Morrow 76-77—153

Randy Lipscomb 78-76—154

Gage Miller 78-77—155

Eric Lett 77-79—156

Nick Hubbard 78-79—157

Justin Wood 76-88—164

Third flight

Ty Cole 79-68—147

Matt Rogers 80-76—156

Timmy Woodard 79-79—158

Chip Howell 79-81—160

Jared Waits 80-80—160

Kyle Rosenbauer 79-83—162

Cain Hollingsworth 80-82—162

Ryan Limbaugh 79-83—162

Shannon Page 79-85—164

Daily Thomas 80-85—165

Brandon Slick 80-107—187

Fourth flight

Justin Gondola 81-80—161

Robin Wood 81-83—164

Max Basler 82-83—165

George Salmon 82-84—166

Danny Shears 81-86—167

Jake Munroe 81-89—170

Eric Smith 82-88—170

Kenny Fulmer 82-88—170

Lee Waldron 83-88—171

Cal Lambert 82-92—174

Fifth flight

Brad Baird 84-80—164

Pat Cooper 87-81—168

Chandler Allen 88-81—169

Chase Thomas 85-87—172

Nick Pollard 84-88—172

Joe McGuire 88-88—176

Bumper Jones 88-89—177

David Hurst 88-90—178

Josh Hicks 86-95—181

Trenton Lott 87-94—181

Dustin Travis 84-WD

Sixth flight

Jay Howell 91-86—177

Nathan Williams 89-89—178

Brad Young 90-89—179

Doug White 90-90—180

Houston Black 89-93—182

Steven Waits 91-91—182

Anthony Humphries 90-93—183

Rusty Calloway 89-101—190

Adam Benefiel 91-101—192

Allen Hamlin 89-106—195

Chance Nunnally 91-119—210

Seventh flight

Casey Harmon 96-82—178

Luke Armstrong 97-90—187

Michael Prociuk 97-92—189

Mike McArthur 97-92—189

Daniel Ricks 102-94—196

Hogan Page 100-97—197

Kelly Rogers 99-99—198

Randy Watson 98-103—201

Derrick Kirby 95-109—204

Rick Saylor 111-106—217

Senior Division

David Sanders 76-75—151

Tim Steward 78-78—155

Charlie Estes 75-82—157

Dennis Austin 77-80—157

Jerry Kemp 76-83—159

Ron Fleming 79-80—159

Doug Sears 79-81—160

Charlie Winfrey 82-85—167

Ed Raney 82-88—170

Bobby Vinson 83-90—173

Mike Thompson 95-94—189

Lamar Ward 105-93—198

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