E.A. Sports Today

‘Loaded at the top’

Robinson-Stumpfig top a crowded leaderboard after first round of Sunny King Classic, 14 teams within three shots of the lead, tightest Friday since 2018

Cody Robinson-Jack Stumpfig55-17
Jake Goggans-Rob Davie57-15
Randy Lipscomb-Dane Moore57-15
Garrett Burgess-Tanner Wells57-15
Taylor McCollum-Kyle Daugherty57-15
Jason Johnson-Landon Straub57-15
Ryan Howard-Chris Murphree57-15
5 teams at58-14

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES – Cody Robinson and Jack Stumpfig came into their first Sunny King Charity Classic together with some specific, but lofty goals in mind.

They want to shoot 13-under-par in each of the tournament’s three formats, which would give them a score that would win most Classics in the modern era.

They were on the cusp of hitting their scramble goal at Silver Lakes with six holes to play Friday and then lightning struck to put them ahead of the game.

They chipped in for consecutive eagles on Backbreaker 6 and 7 – their 15th and 16th holes of the day – and then closed with a birdie to finish at 17-under-par 55 and grab the opening round lead of the 43rd annual Classic.

The two out-of-state pros, who were formally the first team to register for this year’s field, might have shot the low score of the day, but there’s an army of top teams breathing down their necks. Six teams are tied at 15-under, five are tied at 14 and 14 teams are within three shots of the lead.

It’s the tightest first-round leaderboard since 2018 when 10 teams were within two of the lead and 14 were within three. Last year, when the tournament finished in an historic playoff that lasted six holes, nine teams were within three shots of the lead after the first round.

“It’s loaded at the top,” said Andrew Brooks, the reigning Calhoun County champion and one of the teams at 14.

“That’s pretty impressive, and competitive,” tournament chairman Brett Key said. “I like it tight at the top, for sure.”

Robinson, 27, is a mini-tour player living in Ranburne who is about to move back to Tallapoosa, where his family runs a convenience store off the interstate. Stumpfig, 28, is Robinson’s former high school teammate and an internet teaching pro in Florida with several pro wins.

“Our goal was 13-under each day and by the time were hole 12 I said were easily going to surpass this and then we go eagle-eagle right after that,” Robinson said. “That’s what made it extra special for us.”

On the eagle at 6 Stumpfig hit a driver over the water and Robinson chipped in from about 15 yards off the green. On the next one Stumpfig’s drive left the team about 160 yards out, then he hit a 9-iron just short of the green and chipped it into the hole.

“We were yelling, going crazy,” Robinson said. “We let the whole course know it. It’s fun to have a good time.”

They needed every bit of the back-to-back eagles to hold onto the lead.

Two of the 15-unders came out of the same group: Kyle Daugherty-Taylor McCollum and Garrett Burgess-Tanner Wells. Daugherty brought McCollum out of a self-imposed three-year golf retirement to replace 2019 champion Jacob Harper, who was battling to get through the first stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-school, just so they could “come after” the defending champions Ott and Dalton Chandler.

Daugherty and McCollum eagled three of the four par-5s and had nine birdies. Burgess and Wells had 15 birdies.

Goggans and Davie parred their first hole of the day then ripped off 10 birdies in a row, with Davie dropping most of them.

“My putter was hot and then I had Jake and I knew if I missed it he would back me up,” Davie said. “We hit a few close and then kind of rode the train.”

“He never putted that good, period,” Goggans said of his partner.

Lipscomb and Moore, winners of the Calhoun County Two-Man here in April, were only 2-under through their first five holes, then played their last 13 in 13-under with 11 birdies and an eagle.

“It took us a little bit to get going, but we talked about it before, don’t put any pressure on ourselves if we don’t get it going right off the bat,” Moore said.  

Johnson and Straub turned in 9-under and were 12-under through 13 holes.

“It just shows you the depth of the tournament, how good these players are and how good the greens are,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun (going forward), for sure.”

The championship flight heads to Cider Ridge for the scamble round Saturday and wraps up with the best ball round at Anniston CC Sunday. There’s sure to be some separation, but it promises to stay tight throughout the weekend.

Among the teams at 14, Wigington and Cole rebounded from a slow start to play their inward nine in 10-under. They didn’t have anything higher than a 3 on the Heartbreaker 9, eagled both par-5s (and three of their four in the round) and played their last 12 holes in 13-under.

“We just hit better shots and finally made some putts,” Wigington said.

Another of the 14s, all Jeremy McGatha and Brennan Clay wanted was a better first round than they had the year before. Last year they shot 63 in the opening round, their highest Round 1 score in their eight-year partnership, then came back with 58-59 on the weeken, but finished four out of the playoff.

“You don’t think we haven’t thought about it? McGatha said. “We talk about it.”

This year, they rebounded with their second-best round together. They birdied three of their first four holes and shot 29 on each side, capped by Clay’s sweeping mulligan birdie putt on Heartbreaker 6 and McGatha’s sweeper for eagle on 7.

“I played OK on the front and then Brennan found it on the back and carried me all the whole back nine,” McGatha said. “We both did our thing. It was basically a pretty good brother-in-lawing round, but I think it was a tale of two nines.”

Eagles were flying all over Mize and Glover’s round. They had two eagles and a double eagle. They took advantage of the drop-zone premium on Heartbreaker 7 and Glover holed an 8-iron from 161 yards. It took some of the sting off the bogey they made three holes earlier.

“We couldn’t put enough circles around it,” said Mize, referring to the triple circles that signify an albatross on the scorecard.

Their two eagles came on the two par-5s on the Backbreaker 9. Glover holed out from just off the green at No. 7 and Mize drained a 30-foot putt on No. 9.

“Our goal was coming in was to 12,” Mize said. “If we can get to 20-under for the tournament we’d be happy with it. Our goal was 12-under here, 8-under at Cider and 2 at the country club. When we came here, we exceeded our expectations.”

They want to shoot 13-under-par in each of the tournament’s three formats, which would give them a score that would win most Classics in the modern era.

They chipped in for eagles on Backbreaker 6 and 7 – their 15th and 16th holes of the day –

Cover photo: Cody Robinson (R) and Jack Stumpfig enjoy lunch after posting a 17-under-par 55 at Silver Lakes to take the Sunny King Classic first-round lead.

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