E.A. Sports Today

Another battle

Cole prevails by one stroke after another epic Calhoun County Golf Tour battle with friend, Sunny King partner and rival Wigington

Cover photo: Ty Cole (right) and Gary Wigington shake hands as Tee Brown looks on and Jeremy McGatha replaces the flag after completing Sunday’s final round of the Etowah County Open on the Links at Briarmeade. Cole won by one stroke. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

GLENCOE — Ty Cole and Gary Wigington stared at would-be birdie putts on No. 18 in Sunday’s final round of the Etowah County Open, Cole with a one-shot lead. As Wigington stepped up to try his 12-footer, Cole couldn’t help rooting for his friend.

“Put it in, big man,” Cole said. “I can take it.”

Both players parred the final hole on the Links at Briarmeade, and Cole scored his third Tour victory this season and second in as many Tour events.

So ended another epic battle between two Tour heavyweights, who entered Sunday’s final round tied for the lead after shooting 63s on Saturday. Cole birdied No. 17 to take the final-round lead and shot a 66 to win.

Wigington came into the Tour’s who sixth points event of the season having lead the points standings since winning the first points event, at Silver Lakes. Cole, didn’t play in two Tour events and nearly missed the Oxford City Championship two weeks ago, entered the weekend in fourth place, 195 points back.

Two more points events remain, including the Pine Hill Invitational this coming weekend. The 87th Calhoun County Championship is Aug. 19-20.

Cole and Wigington will go on to be playing partners in September’s Sunny King Charity Classic and Buddy Moore Invitational, which are not part of the Tour.

“We spend all year trying to beat the hell out of each other, then in September, we’re like, ‘Come on, man!'” Cole said, while both man sampled Briarmeade’s tantalizing red beans and rice. “We pull for each other when we play Buddy Moore and Sunny King on back-to-back weekends.”

Cole and Wigington battling for tournament victories and Tour points titles is nothing new.

“We’ve done it a lot,” Wigington said. “We have a good time, any way, on it. It’s not like we don’t like each other and playing each other. We have a good time, and we had a good time out there today.”

Cole and Wigington shared the final group with Tee Brown and Jeremy McGatha, and the start foretold a day where they were either tied or within a stroke of each other the whole round. Wigington started eagle-birdie, and Cole started birdie-birdie to fall one shot back.

They were tied at 11 under par at the turn. Cole went up one with a birdie on 10, and Wigington matched it on 11.

Cole made a key par save on No. 14, after his tee shot ricocheted off of a tree and back back into the water.

“It hit halfway up a pine tree and comes back 60 yards back into the water,” Cole said. “I didn’t see it go into the water. We didn’t know it went in the water until we got up there, because we were 60 yards up, looking for it in the rough.

“I heard it hit the tree, but I didn’t know where it went, but it typically doesn’t got that.”

Cole took a drop and penalty stroke but had a good look for his approach. He saved the par 5 to stay even with Wigington.

Cole took the lead with an aggressive 7-iron drive and two-putting for birdie on the par-5 17th hole.

“Just smoked the drive,” Cole said. “I hit it as hard as I can swing it. I knew I had to hit it high to keep it out of the woods, but I knew I didn’t need a flyer, either.”

Cole entered No. 18 with a one-stroke lead then drove left of the green and downhill, in dirt and rocks. Able to move the ball a club length, he found a better lie.

“I found a little bit of grass,” he said. “Hit a good shot and then hit a fantastic putt, dead center and knocked the back of the cup out but left it four inches short.”

Cole and Wigington two-putted 18 then shook hands after a round that showed why Wigington has won 26 Tour events and Cole 25. Cole is a five-time Tour player of the year, and Wigington has won it four times.

“I played good and didn’t make a birdie the last five holes, and that kind of told the tale,” Wigington said. “You can’t not make birdies on the last five and think you’re going to win, but played good.

“I was happy. It’s the best I’ve played in a while. It gives me something good to look forward to.”

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Gary Wigington6367130
John Rollins6768135
Tee Brown6571136
Chris Sprayberry6671137
Vance Lewis6869137
Jeremy McGatha6474138
Andrew Brooks6968137
Brennan Clay6969138
Chad Calvert7168139
Chad Hare6971140
Jeff McRae6972141
Dustin Travis6973142
Matt Rogers7173144
Mason Dennis7373146
Cam Hurst7277149
Chris Cox7279151
Devon Downs7279151
T.J. Daugherty7378151
Opie Teague7380153
Neal Keener7380153
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Randy Lipscomb7776153
Scott Moates7777154
Phillip Eades7877155
Chris Maye7580155
J.D. Berndt7878156
Craig Kiker7681157
Frank Barnes7881159
Greg Hare7884162
Greg Davenport7884162
Jeff Noah7972151
Ted Heim8274156
Bob Eaton7978157
Jason Billingsley7979158
Turner Shankels7980159
Luke Haynie8080160
Richard Johnson8179160
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Eric Ray8082162
Wesley Watkins8182163
Matthew Williams 8084164
Michael McDowell8183164
Craig Graves8184165
Paul Allen8289171
David Beason83WD
Stanley Hawkins8780167
Jason Shields8781168
Dre Davenport9078168
Mason Cothran8685171
Blaine Bryant8686172
Jason Gilley8587172
Blake Erwin9083173
Casey Downs9084174
Patrick Patterson9188179
Dylan Jackson8694180
Dani Bone9494188
Gary Singleton9595190
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