E.A. Sports Today

Ty avoids the tie

Cole drains birdie putt on 18 to avoid a playoff and win the Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ty Cole was staring down a putt on the 18th green with everything in the balance. Gary Wigington was watching intently from the top of the hill. Neither player was particularly interested in going to a playoff.

Cole avoided a second sudden-death showdown in four events with his Sunny King Charity Classic partner Sunday when he sank the 15-foot uphill birdie putt on 18 to win the Wilfred Galbraith Invitational at Anniston Country Club.

Cole fired a final-round 67 to finish at 4-under-par 206 for his third Calhoun County Tour win of the season. He won the season-opener at Twin Bridges and beat Wigington in a playoff at Cider Ridge two weeks later.

Wigington shot 66 and made a 20-foot birdie putt from off the green at 18 that sent an Augusta-like roar through the pines and set the stage for the final group’s drama. He finished at 207.

Second-round leader Jacob LeCroy, first-round co-leader Clay Guerin of Birmingham and Jacksonville State sophomore Ross Napier of Hartselle all tied for third at 209.

As the tight leaderboard suggested, it was one of the most competitive ACC Invitationals in recent years. Six players held a share of the lead at some point in the final round and three held it outright. Cole didn’t lead it outright until 12 and once he got the lead he didn’t let it go.

It got that way because second-round leader and 2018 champion LeCroy hit his opening drive out of bounds, stepped in a fire ant mound going to his ball in the fairway bunker after his re-tee and made triple-bogey 7. He followed that with a lip-out on 2 and bogeys on 3, 4 and 5 to fall three shots off the lead.

When Guerin also bogeyed 1, all four players in the final group and Neill Hatcher of Birmingham in the group ahead of them were tied for the lead at 1-under-par.

But even LeCroy climbed back into it. He got back to even-par with a birdie-eagle start to the back nine and he birdied his final two holes to finish in the tie for third.

“That’s twice I hit it out of play there (No. 1),” said LeCroy, who opened Friday’s round with a double-bogey at No. 1. “I’m disappointed big time. Just take those two away, just give me pars there, I’m way ahead.

“I play up here all the time, I’ve seen myself shoot nothing on the back before. I was like, you know what, let’s give it hell, let’s just give it my all. We’re going to go out there and play my best golf on this back nine and see what happens. After 11 I was in a really good zone.”

Guerin had a two-shot lead on the field (and three over Cole) after back-to-back birdies on 7 and 8, and was two up at the turn. He still led by one before Cole birdied 11 and 13 around a Guerin bogey on 12 to flip the leaderboard and grab a two-shot lead.

As much as the birdies helped his cause, Cole said the putt that “saved my tournament” was the one he made for par on 14 to maintain his two-shot lead.

“If I don’t make that par putt on 14 I’ve got to press and then you never know what’s going to happen,” Cole said. “But I didn’t have to press after making par.”

When Cole parred 17 and Guerin birdied – and Wigington already in at 3-under – it set the stage for a possible three-way playoff if Guerin could birdie 18 and Cole would par.

Guerin hit his drive right into the No. 1 fairway and then found the greenside bunker on his approach.

“It was my tournament and I did not close it out,” Guerin said. “I had my chances.”

Cole, meanwhile, hit one of his best drives of the day off the 18th tee – with a driver he just had re-shafted overnight. The shot left him 83 yards to the green and he confidently wedged it onto the green virtually guaranteeing no worse than a playoff but giving himself a chance at a winning birdie.

With Wigington watching from top of the hill, Cole surveyed his putt and then ran it home for the win.

“I actually thought my second shot was going to skip and get to three feet; I thought it was going to be inside Jacob,” Cole said. “I don’t want to go through the playoff again with Twig because you know he’s liable to just go off and he closed (birdie-birdie), so he has a lot more momentum than I do. You don’t want that (playoff).

“But I got lucky. I had an uphill putt into the grain. It’s not going to break a lot, so I don’t have to worry about line. I’ve just got to smash it, and it went in.”

“You birdie 18, you deserve to win,” Wigington said. “I’m just glad to be back and even have a sniff of it the way I played yesterday (73).” 

NOTES: Wigington’s 66 tied for the best round of the day with Jackson King, the Championship Flight 2 winner. King had three birdies and one of the championship flight’s three eagles on the day (No. 17) … The other eagle in the flight belonged to Harrison Hughston (No. 11) … Napier’s father was a teammate of Wigington’s on the JSU golf team … Ryan Howard shot 69 and won Championship Flight 3 on his birthday … Wigington made the most birdies in the tournament (14) … Don Springer won the Senior Division by a stroke over David Sanders … Next up for LeCroy and Guerin is this week’s 105th Alabama State Amateur Pine Tree CC. White Plains’ Kenny Okins also is in the field.

Wilfred Galbraith ACC Invitational

Ty Cole697067206
Gary Wigington687366207
Jacob LeCroy686873209
Ross Napier717167209
Clay Guerin687071209
Dalton Chandler697071210
Neill Hatcher716973213
Brennan Clay707272214
Scott Martin707272214
Lance Evans727273217
Jeremy McGatha727174217
Jonathan Pate747078222
Jackson King757066211
Freeman Fite747171216
Andrew Gladden698167217
Adam Sanders747571220
Tanner Wells767570221
Randy Lipscomb787370221
Josh Poole737772222
Morton Holcomb718072223
Landon Straub737477224
Ryan Segrest797274225
Andrew Brooks757378226
Will Reaves747677227
Chip Howell777377227
Jack Svensen747678228
Harrison Hughston737679228
Ryan Howard767869223
Daniel Black777672225
Jeff Bain748078232
Greg Shultz748178233
Clay Calkins787779234
Morgan Cunningham777780234
Kyle Daugherty767980235
Rob Svensen797978236
Ott Chandler798279240
Hunter Carr 799273244
Tyler Huckaby778484245
Andrew Morris788982249
Jeremy Willis7472146
Ed Johnson7772149
Ross Svensen7574149
Will Broome7279151
Chase Thomas7777154
Danny Whittaker7877155
Maverick Smith7383156
Matt Rogers 7879157
Ryan Limbaugh7882160
Kenneth Patterson7885163
Casey Harmon7777165
Cameron McCareeth8375158
Luke Armstrong8078158
Caleb Morrow8278160
Cal Lambert8179160
Jason Britton8179160
Chris Messer8280162
Chad Key8181162
Taylor Morrow8281163
Matt Hunter8183164
James Lett8185166
Ted Heim8284166
Mark Guyther8288170
JB Barnes8289171
Daniel Smith8574159
Will Brown8876164
Lamar Carter8480164
Tyler Romine8480164
Bubba Willingham8681167
Braylin Hathorn8983172
Trey Stone8983172
Craig Kiker 8488172
Zach Mangum8688174
Graham Morrow8987176
Houston Black8789176
Taylor Jones8690176
Mark Gaines8790177
Henry Pritchett8791178
Greg Rainey9385178
Dillard Talley9387180
Heath Waldrop9489183
Adam Benefiel9293185
Kelly Rogers9591186
Eric Stringer9888186
Ben Phillips9592187
Grant Greenwood9098188
Sean Kline10288190
Kolby Slick9799196
Amado Ortiz10295197
Randy Watson92NCNC
Don Springer7674150
David Sanders7477151
David Broach8180161
Jerry Ordis8678164
Mike Lett8678164
Don Whitlow10094194

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