E.A. Sports Today

Familiar frontrunner

Gage Ledbetter grabs first-round lead in area stroke play tournament for third week in a row, leads at Pine Hill by 2

By Brant Locklier 
For East Alabama Sports Today

Gage Ledbetter can thank his wife for his recent surge to the upper echelon of the Calhoun County Golf Tour. He is currently sitting 16th in the points race, the final qualifying spot for the County Match Play Championship, but has shown signs of moving up the leaderboard quickly. 

He was a winner last week at the Dub Ellis Invitational at Cherokee County Country Club and Saturday in the 15th annual Pine Hill Invitational he opened first-round play with a masterful 7-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Ty Cole of Albertville and Brad Moultrie of Decatur..

“I played golf at Gadsden State, but had quit playing for nine months,” Ledbetter said. “I guess my wife got tired of me being around the house all the time and she encouraged me to get back out there playing and here I am..

“I was feeling a little slow this morning, but I birdied four of my first five holes. I made some good putts on the back nine, but I think I hit my best shot on 18 (No. 9).”

The 23-year-old welder hit his approach shot 30 feet over the green and had a downhill chip to save par. He lofted the shot high in the air and it landed within two feet and he tapped in for a par.

It’s the third tournament in a row, across three separate counties, he has shot a blistering Saturday round. He shot 65 in the opening round of the Etowah Open to get into the final group of Sunday, a 62 in the opening round of the Dub Ellis, and Saturday’s 65.

He’d like to finish strong. He shot 73 in the final round at Briarmeade to finish T-6. He won in Centre, but shot a 76 in the final round.

“I’ve been practicing,” he said. “I work 10 hours a day and I practice five. Now I need to learn how to close and control my nerves; that’s my only missing piece. I can play golf, I just need to figure out how to beat myself.”

Cole closed with a back nine 32 to move into second. Moultrie started his round with a chip-in eagle on 1, but turned in 1-under and shot 33 on the back to pull into a tie. Most everyone in the tournament’s largest and strongest field played the back nine better.

Jonathan Pate, Nick Ledbetter and Josh Reynolds are all at 68 and six-time event winner Gary Wigington is among eight players at 69 to complete the championship flight.

“The trees were my friends today,” Ledbetter said. “I got to see a lot of them. I had one spurt where I birdied 11, 12 and 13 and then it was mostly pars the rest of the afternoon.”

The course endured five hours of rain overnight, including a stretch in which two inches fell in an hour then when the workers got to the course in the morning they discovered it had no water due to a nearby main break.

Despite all the rain, the course held up well, yielded some good scores and drew raves. There were 31 scores of par or better in the round, 25 under par. 

“The comments we’ve gotten on the facility have been unbelievable,” Pine Hill operator Cory Etter said. “People have said it’s the best they’ve seen the golf course. We’ve had those kinds of comments come in all week and all day today. Our staff has done a really, really good job. They take pride in making this a fun event.”

Pine Hill Invitational

Gage Ledbetter65Kobie Webb70
Ty Cole67Layton Bussey70
Brad Moultrie67Chip Howell70
Jonathan Pate68Chris Randall71
Josh Reynolds68Mason Dennis71
Nick Ledbetter68Chance Harris71
Jeremy McGatha69Wesley Jenkins71
Brennan Clay69Gage Miller71
Landon Straub69Greg Barnett72
Kenny Okins69Billy Thompson72
Gary Wigington69Vance Lewis72
Chad Calvert69Jeff Noah72
John Rollins69
Seth Wallace69
Clay Calkins73Mark McCaig76
Riley Boyd73Nick Hubbard76
Chase Hollingsworth73Will Brown76
Randy Lipscomb73Casey Harmon76
Benji Turley73Hunter Carr76
Daily Thomas74Bob Eaton76
Landon Winfrey74Joe Hedgepeth76
Coleman Messer74Marcus King76
Kent Whitley74Mark Durden76
Bradley Elliott75Sawyer Edwards76
Tyler Teneyck75Brock Young76
Craig Duncan75Mark Minton77
Chris Hubbard75Cam Hurst77
Matt Rogers75Tony Hicks77
Cain Hollingsworth75Houston Black77
Daniel Black75Lamar Carter77
Jimbo Phillips75
Shannon Page78C.J. Murphy81
Aaron Whitley78Heath Waldrop81
Shawn Ledbetter78Chris Reaves81
Nick Pollard78Terry Cobb81
Mark Minton78David Coffey81
Johnny Barnes79Wyatt Cotney81
Zack Goss79Frankie Hanvey82
Patrick Cooper79Sean Kline82
Chris Sprayberry79Heath Hammond82
Spence Florczak79Landon Holley83
Samuel Wallace79Greg Rainey83
Shane Lee80Bart Smith83
Jared Waits80Mike Wallace 83
Austin Elliott80
Billy McCroskey84Jeff Roszell88
Steve Taylor84Ryder Hudgins88
Austin Jones84Keith Hutcheson89
Mark Gaines85Mason Nolen89
Blake Jones85Logan Turner90
Keaton Borrelli85Ken Renfroe91
Jared Joiner85Shaughn Rankin91
Ethan Davis86Alex Whaley92
Taylor Vera86Mickey Sheppard94
David Medders Jr.86Wimberly Scarbrough94
Scott Watson86Greg Goodwin96
Jarred Driggers87Kelly Rogers97
Warren Sewell87Johnston Smith99
Mike Ledbetter87Jake Moore 100
Eddy Burks87
Robbie Hurst69Dennis Austin75
Mike Lett71Allen Mangham75
David Sanders71Ted Heim75
Rick Barthel72Frank Toland75
James Beavers72Jerry Irwin76
Jerry Kemp73Bob McClain76
Tim Steward74Keith Haywood77
Ron Wheeler74David Messer77
David Toland77
Buddy Eiland78
Randall Doss79Steve Perry85
Jim Landers81David Stephens85
Gary Austin81Bobby Vinson85
Lamar Ward81Ron Fleming85
Carter Gable82Frank Cobb86
Tim Hill82Greg Thrower86
Steve Williams82Lee Clark86
Wilton Page82David Medders Sr.87
Robbie Robertson82Paul Dorsey96
Steve Smith83Sam Morgan97
Mike Thompson83Steve Borrelli102

Sunday pairings

Early Wave
No. 1 Tee
7 a.m.: Steve Borrelli, Sam Morgan, Paul Dorsey, Jim Landers
7:10: Lee Clark, Greg Thrower, Steve Smith, David Medders Sr.
7:20: Ron Fleming, Bobby Vinson, Lamar Ward, Frank Cobb
7:30: David Stephens, Steve Perry, Randall Doss, Robbie Robertson
7:40: Jake Moore, Johnston Smith, Kelly Rogers, Shaughn Rankin
7:50: Scott Watson, David Medders Jr., Taylor Vera, Ethan Davis
8:00: Austin Jones, Mark Gaines, Blake Jones, Keaton Borrelli
8:10: Billy McCroskey, Barat Smith, Landon Holley, Heath Hammond
8:20: Greg Rainey, Sean Kline, Heath Waldrop, Frankie Hanvey
8:30: Jared Waits, Samuel Wallace, Patrick Cooper, Zack Goss
8:40: Johnny Barnes, Mark Minton, Nick Pollard, Shawn Ledbetter

No. 10 Tee
7:00: Mickey Sheppard, Wilmberly Scarbrough, Jason Nolen
7:10: Greg Goodwin, Mike Wallace, Alex Whaley, Steve Taylor
7:20: Mike Thompson, Wilton Page, Steve Williams, Gary Austin
7:30: Ken Renfroe, Keith Hutcheson, Jeff Roszell, Logan Turner
7:40: Eddy Burks, Mike Ledbetter, Warren Sewell, Jarred Driggers
7:50: Ryder Hudgins, Terry Cobb, Jared Joiner
8:00: Carater Gable, Tim Hill, Buddy Eiland, Keith Haywood
8:10: Wyatt Cotney, David Coffey, Chris Reaves, C.J. Murphy
8:20: Austin Elliott, Shane Lee, Spence Florczak, Chris Sprayberry
8:30: Aaron Whitley, Shannon Page, Lamar Carter, Houston Black
8:40: Tony Hicks, Cam Hurst, Josh Poole, Brock Young

Late Wave
No. 1 Tee
11:20 a.m.: Sawyer Edwards, Will Brown, Mark McCaig, Nick Hubbard
11:30: Hunter Carr, Casey Harmon, Mark Durden, Marcus King
11:40: Bob Eaton, Joe Hedgepeth, Cain Hollingsworth, Craig Duncan
11:50: Jimbo Phillips, Daniel Black, Chris Hubbard, Tyler Teneyck
Noon: Matt Rogers, Landon Winfrey, Bradley Elliott, Kent Whitley
12:10 p.m.: Open
12:20: Randy Lipscomb, Chase Hollingsworth, Clay Calkins
12:30: Chad Calvert, Gary Wigington, Brennan Clay
12:40: Jeremy McGatha, Landon Straub, Nick Ledbetter, Josh Reynolds
12:50: Gage Ledbetter, Ty Cole, Brad Moultrie, Jonathan Pate

No. 10 Tee
11:20 a.m.: Coleman Messer, Daily Thomas, Benji Turley, Riley Boyd
11:30: David Toland, David Messer, Frank Toland, Dennis Austin
11:40: Jeff Noah, Vance Lewis, Billy Thompson, Greg Barnett
11:50: Gage Miller, Wesley Jenkins, Chance Harris, Mason Dennis
Noon: Chris Randall, Chip Howell, Layton Bussey, Kobie Webb
12:10 p.m.: Open
12:20: Seth Wallace, John Rollins, Kenny Okins
12:30: Jerry Irwin, allen Manghaaam, Ted Heim
12:40: Tim Steward, Jerry Kemp, Ron Wheeler, Rick Barthel
12:50: Robbie Hurst, David Sanders, Mike Lett, James Beavers

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