E.A. Sports Today

‘One for the ages’

Chandlers birdie final three holes in regulation, then win longest playoff in Sunny King Classic history with birdie putt on sixth extra hole

Dalton Chandler sends his title-winning putt towards the cup on the sixth playoff hole of the Sunny King Charity Classic.

FINAL SCORES: https://www.kingclassic.com/current-scores/

x-Ott Chandler-Dalton Chandler615461176
Gary Wigington-Ty Cole615758176
Jacob Harper-Kyle Daugherty595763179
Jeremy McGatha-Brennan Clay635859180
Sawyer Edwards-Cam McCareeth596065184
x-Won playoff on sixth extra hole

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ott Chandler has never seen the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” before but he doesn’t have to now.

He lived it in the final round of the Sunny King Charity Classic Sunday at Anniston Country Club.

Dalton Chandler sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th green to end the longest playoff in Sunny King Classic history, giving his father Ott his sixth all-time SKCC title (all since 2014) and their second one together.

“One for the ages, man,” Ott said. “What a day, what a tournament to play with your son and be in that kind of finish and him being under the gun two and three times to make a putt for us in overtime. What a great time. By far – by far – my most exciting golf tournament I ever played in.”

The playoff with Ty Cole and Gary Wigington went six holes – all on the par-3 16th – and had a distinct Bagger Vance vibe when it ended, with cars lined up on the street behind the green with their headlights beamed on the putting surface.

In keeping with that theme, Wigington could play the Bobby Jones character in the movie; Ott Chandler, the Walter Hagen character; Dalton Chandler, local hero Rannulph Junuh; tournament chairman Brett Key, the mayor directing the pieces to keep the match moving in the darkness; and the two sportswriters documenting the raucous scene, the Grantland Rice and O.B. Keeler characters.

The playoff started with two stars out in the night sky and towards the end players were just trying to make contact with the ball and aiming at the headlights they saw up towards the green. After a while you couldn’t see the tee from the green and the players used a cellphone flashlight to help spot the ball on the tee before a car made its way there and threw some light on the subject.

Tournament officials kept giving the players the option to continue or retire as co-champions and they played on, much to the delight of the vocal crowd standing around the green. No one wanted to yield.

Cole might have gotten a little less enamored with the playoff the longer it went into the night, but he understood the tournament wanting to declare a champion.

“I’ve never even seen a playoff, I mean, I’ve seen them happening, but damn sure not a six-hole playoff in the Sunny King – and definitely not in the dark,” Dalton said. “We didn’t want to be co-champions. We either wanted to win or lose. Luckily we came out on the good side of it.”

“The greatest Sunny King ever,” someone yelled from the gallery as the players made their way back down the hill for a fifth time.

“It was one that will always be remembered, how it ended up the way it did,” Wigington said. “It was a lot of fun. We had our shot, but we just didn’t do it … The playoff was crazy. We just absolutely couldn’t see nothing; you’d just hit it and have no clue where it was going. You just have to wait until the crowd says something or does something. I’d walk up there and I didn’t know if I was on the green or off.”

Each of the first five rotations of the playoff was tied with pars. No previous Sunny King playoff had gone longer than two holes.

“I kept hitting decent shots and I knew the yardage wasn’t changing,” Dalton said. “The weather was getting a little colder, but basically it was the same shot every time. There was a headlight out to the right and it didn’t ever move so I was aiming at it.’

On the sixth time through, Dalton’s tee ball landed about 15 feet below the hole, Ott and Wigington’s shots both settled into the right fringe (with Ott’s ball hitting the green about 12 inches from the hole) and Cole didn’t make the green. 

Wigington’s putt hit the right edge of the hole and ran out two feet. Ott’s putt drifted low and settled three feet from the hole, but he quickly banged home his par putt, keeping his concentration even as a set of car lights blinked off to dim his view right before his stroke. Dalton then stepped in and sank his putt, ending the playoff at 8 p.m.

The winners entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Jacob Harper and Kyle Daugherty, but had to birdie each of their last three holes in regulation – with Ott sinking a clutch 20-footer on 18 – to chase down Cole and Wigington and force the ninth playoff in SKCC history. The teams shot 38-under-par 176 in regulation, the highest winning score since 2014 – the last time there was a playoff.

“We just had to do what we had to do,” Ott said. “I putted the ball really well all weekend. Yesterday (in a record 18-under scamble) was crazy. I putted the ball good today, I just didn’t hit the ball good today, Dalton carried us, but I made four birdies and it helped us.”

Cole and Wigington, three-time past champions, entered the round three shots behind the Chandlers entering a challenging format, but they climbed back into contention early and then surged into the lead with a hot seven-hole stretch in the middle of the round (7 through 13) that featured six birdies and an eagle by Cole.

They appeared to be sitting pretty after Wigington’s birdie on 18 forced the Chandlers to birdie the hole behind them to tie. Ott made his do-or-die putt after Dalton failed to hole out from the right greenside bunker with his third shot.

“Yeah we ended up losing, but we caught them from three back and Ott had to make a 30-footer on the last hole,” Cole said. “We caught them from three back in a four-ball at Anniston and that’s not easy to do.”

The tournament raised $130,000 for its charities.

All-time SKCC playoffs

2021O. Chandler-D. ChandlerG. Wigington-T. Cole6
2014R. Howard-L. EvansG. Wigington-F. Fite1
2010M. Harrell-O. ChandlerR. Reaves-G. Wigington2
1998E. Hamilton-P. CushmanC.Howell-B. Inman1
1997R. Reaves-J. Russell2 teams2
1988J. Burns-W. PageJ. Carrozza-M. PinsonSC
1984B. Rothell-J. FlynnP. Canada-L. Deason1
1981J. Norton-B. Canup2 teams1
1979L. Roberts-D. BradenW. Nowlin-B. PhillipsSC

Ott (L) and Dalton Chandler hold the Sunny King Charity Classic trophy after winning an epic playoff.

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