E.A. Sports Today

Friends and winners

Miller, Watson post second straight 63, win County Team Championship by 1 over Chandler, Parnell

Matt Miller blasts out of the greenside bunker on Heartbreaker No. 7, his 16th hole of the day, setting up a par to keep his team in the lead in the County Team Championship.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES — A couple of self-described weekend warriors from up on The Hill brought their game to the big course this weekend and walked away with one of the biggest team prizes on the Calhoun County golf calendar.

Matt Miller and Chad Watson, longtime high school buddies who sharpen their games in the weekend dogfights at Anniston Municipal, outplayed some of the county’s more established stars and won the Calhoun County Team Championship at Silver Lakes.

They shot 63 for the second day in a row, this time in a scamble format, for a two-day 18-under-par 126, one shot better than Ott Chandler and Jeremy Parnell, the team they shared the lead with entering the day.

This means a lot,” Watson said. “It’s against Ott and Jeremy (McGatha) and Brennan (Clay) and … We call them the legends. We wanted to hang around. We’re weekend warriors. I guess it’s going to be me and him locked in from now on at all two-mans.”

The final group of the day was a real dogfight, with the lead changing hands three times on the front nine. There was a birdie or better on 11 of the first 12 holes.

Chandler got it started when he holed an 8-iron from 154 yards for eagle-2 on Backbreaker No. 1. Miller and Watson birdied five of their first six holes to gain a two-shot lead, but Chandler and Parnell birdied the next five holes in a row to regain the lead through 11. Watson then drew his team even when he dropped a bomb from the back fringe on 12.

“Man, that was fun,” Miller said. “I’ve never been in that situation. It was fun. It was fun to be back in competition. We just put it together for two days. We’ve been playing golf for 20 years. It feels great.”

The tournament turned on the par-3 14th, No. 5 on the Heartbreaker 9. The teams went into it tied for the lead at 17-under, but Miller-Watson came off the green two shots ahead after Miller’s eight-foot birdie trumped their playing partner’s three-putt bogey.

Watson hit his tee shot on the hole a “li’l heavy,” putting the pressure on his partner to keep them in the hole. Miller responded with “probably the best iron shot I’ve ever hit,” hitting a 6-iron from 165 yards dead into the wind to about eight feet left of the hole. Miller then rolled in the putt, while their playing partners three-putted.

The runner-ups also three-putted 16 for par after Chandler hit the green from 172 yards out of the heavy left rough when it looked like the leaders were in even more trouble.

“It come down to putting,” Chandler said. “It come down to the par-3s and I didn’t putt well. Had a chance to win by four and we lose by one, but you’ve got to make putts. But those guys played good, you can’t take it away from them. They brother-in-lawed real good, but that’s what you have to do in a two-man. They did what they had to do to win (and) we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Chandler and Parnell shaved a shot off their deficit when Parnell nearly aced 17 and Chandler rolled in a five-foot birdie. Miller almost aced the hole as well; his tee shot landed 10 inches short of the hole, bounced off the flagstick and caromed 15 feet to the front of the green.

Then on 18, Chandler found the water twice, leaving his partner with a long must-make putt from the back of the green for birdie force a playoff. Parnell’s putt fell off to the right as it approached the hole. Watson two-putted from just to the left of the hole to seal the win.

“Those last three holes were the hardest holes I’ve ever played in a tournament,” Watson said. “Knowing the wind, one missed putt, one missed shot.

“When Matt hit it in the water (off the tee) on (Heartbreaker) 7 and I was in the bunker that’s when it really set in. I told Matt coming down the hill make par, make them beat us, we can’t beat ourselves.”

And that’s what he did. He found the greenside bunker out of the fairway bunker, blasted out and two-putted for par.

NOTES: Clay Calkins and Mike Lett birdied their last five holes to win the first flight (133) and Chris Cox and Blake Grisham shot 2-under 70 to win the second flight (143) … First-flight runnerup Greg Harrrelson and Tony Hicks had one par over their first 10 holes. They made 10 birdies in their round. Cain Hollingsworth and Jake Law birdied six of their last seven holes to shoot 70 … Every hole was birdied Sunday and there were four eagles … The tournament was originally scheduled as the first event of the season in the spring, but was canceled due to COVID-19 and when restrictions eased Silver Lakes found a date and it became the final event of the County Tour 2020 schedule. It drew 36 teams.

(At Silver Lakes, Backbreaker/Heartbreaker)
Final scores (scramble-scramble)
Championship flight
Matt Miller-Chad Watson 63-63–126
Ott Chandler-Jeremy Parnell 63-64–127
Brennan Clay-Jeremy McGatha 65-64–129
Dalton Chandler-Caleb McKinney 65-64–129
Nick Ledbetter-Mark Hudgins 64-67–131
Jake Goggans-James Lett 65-66–131
Timmy Woodard-Chase Thomas 66-66–132
Patrick Cooper-Shawn Ledbetter 67-66–133
Justin Graveman-Barrett Milan 66-68–134
Will Brown-Tyler Dopson 66-72–138

First flight
Clay Calkins-Mike Lett 69-64–133
Greg Harrelson-Tony Hicks 70-64–134
Randy Lipscomb-Casey Harmon 68-67–135
Landon Winfrey-Frank Brady 70-68–138
Jason Johnson-Landon Straub 70-69–139
Graham Morrow-Taylor Morrow 70-70–140
Cain Hollingsworth-Jake Law 70-70–140
Bumper Jones-Jerry Frasier 68-72–140
Mike Bowers-Sid Garrett 72-69–141
Wesley Jenkins-Gage Miller 71-70–141
Hunter Carr-Tyler Romine 69-72–141
Danny Whittaker-Mark McCaig 68-73–141
George Salmon-Casey Mize 70-72–142
Jake Williams-Cody Boyd 71-77–148
Joe Williams-Mike Williams 72-80–152
Nathan Williams-Daniel Ricks 72-81–153

Second flight
Chris Cox-Blake Grisham 73-70–143
Dre Davenport-Matt Greer 73-73–146
Brandon Slick-Jim Slick 73-74–147
Steve Minton-Frank Toland 73-75–148
Ben Phillips-Craig Kiker 75-76–151
Heath Waldrop-Greg Rainey 78-82–160
Lou Williams-Mike Schulte 76-88–164
Bobby Vinson-Mike Brooks 82-86–168
Nick Machowicz-Mike Machowicz 82-89–171
Ron Fleming-Lamar Ward 86-96–182

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