E.A. Sports Today

Clay rock solid

After reviewing and confirming the numbers, Brennan Clay has been declared Player of the Year in a competitive 2022 County Tour season; includes updated Match Play bracket

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Brennan Clay left the golf course Sunday night disappointed he came so close but didn’t reach the No. 1 item on his list of season goals. He woke up Monday morning as the Calhoun County Golf Tour Player of the Year.

Upon further review, it was determined Clay had edged Gary Wigington to win the tour’s top prize for the first time.

“That was the No. 1 goal for the year,” Clay said. “I set a little notepad thing on my phone for golf goals and that was No. 1. It has been for years now.

“I feel bad that it came down to something like that. If Twig doesn’t have a couple bad holes or make more putts, we don’t have to worry about it. If I make more putts, we don’t have to worry about it.”

The two players had gone into the County Championship at Anniston Municipal tied at the top of the Tour points standings with 1025 points as determined by their best four finishes on the Tour to that point. They had the same number of wins, seconds and third-place finishes. Heck, only six-tenths of a shot separated them in the season-long stroke average statistics.

Provided something crazy didn’t happen, whoever finished best between them would win the prize and be the top seed in October’s County Match Play Championship.

Well, they finished tied for sixth behind winner Andrew Brooks, so that tiebreaker was out. It came down to the best tournament finish not among the five that went towards the points standings. Clay’s T-2 in the Etowah Open at Briarmeade (behind Wigington’s win) trumped Wigington’s T-3 at Pine Hill.

“It was tough calling Twig,” Tour director Jeremy McGatha said. “It’s not the first time something’s happened and I know it’s not going to be the last, but the main this is we got it resolved. The finishes speak for themselves. Once we put them all down we saw where it was.

“That was super close. We’ve had the chance of having a tie before, but not only having a tie, they tied in the County Championship. It was pretty crazy it was that close.”

It was even closer than that. Clay had an eagle chip on 18 that would have matched Wigington’s score on the hole and in the round and given him a better finish in the tournament by one shot. The chip, from about 10 yards below the green, hit the pin, lipped out and stopped an inch behind the cup.

“It was very close,” he said. “It was a really dirty lip out. I didn’t chip it very good and I said out loud to myself, ‘hit a good chip for once, the whole tournament, please.’ I did and it almost went in.”

Typical of the POY race. What wasn’t close was the way Clay played during the year. His T-6 in the County was the first time he had been outside the top five in eight Tour starts. He was out of the top three just twice.

“I think that’s one of the best years of golf I’ve ever played in my life, consistency-wise,” he said. “There were a couple chances to win here and there, but, too, some of the ones I came back and finished good that helps my mood a lot when I’m able to do that.

“In the past Sundays have been here and there for me. I play good sometimes and sometimes I play my way out of the tournament. So, I’ve played good on Sunday a good bit of time, so that’s really a positive for me.”

Here is the confirmed bracket for the County Match Play Championship, Oct. 1-2, at Anniston Municipal, with final player points:

No. 1 Brennan Clay (1298.75) vs. No. 16 Sawyer Edwards (671.25)
No. 8 Mason Dennis (788.75) vs. No. 9 Dane Moore (785)
No. 5 Landon Straub (1046) vs. No. 12 Corey Ray (760)
No. 4 Ty Cole (1212.25) vs. No. 13 Randy Lipscomb (751.25)
No. 3 Jeremy McGatha (1215) vs. No. 14 Andrew Brooks (747.5)
No. 6 Layton Bussey (968.5) vs. No. 11 Kevin Daugherty (767.5)
No. 7 Chad Calvert (950) vs. No. 10 Gage Ledbetter (783.75)
No. 2 Gary Wigington (1298.75) vs. Clay Calkins (737.75)

Tale of the Tape

69.78Stroke Avg.70.85
.582 (53/91)Scrambling.602 (59/98)

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