E.A. Sports Today

County Championship

McGatha, Cole 8 under, tied for the lead after first round. Wigington withdraws because of COVID, clinching Player of The Year for Cole

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

Flash back to 2019, and the Calhoun County Golf Tour Player of the Year battle came down to Ty Cole and Gary Wigington at the County Championship.

Wigington tried to play with an elbow injury and couldn’t, and Cole shot a 13-under-par 57 on The Hill at Anniston Municipal that day.

History might not repeat itself, but it sure has a way of echoing.

Wigington never played a hole in the 2023 Calhoun County Championship. He withdrew because of COVID, a reality that cliched a sixth Player of the Year honor for Cole.

Cole, who came into the tournament leading the season points and needing only a fifth-place finish, did his part, anyway. He shot an 8-under 62 to match Jeremy McGatha for the lead headed into Sunday’s final round.

The reality of how the 2023 points title ended left Cole with mixed emotions. He and Wigington are long-time friends and playing partners in team events like the Sunny King Charity Classic.

“I hate it for him,” Cole said. “I know he’s a competitor, and he wants to tee it up and do all of that, but I understand COVID. My wife is a teacher, and COVID is back going around, or whatever.

“With his situation with (son) Peyton, it’s nothing to joke about because of Peyton being immunocompromised. He’s got to handle that, and golf will always take a back seat to that.”

Wigington, who won the 2023 Calhoun County Golf Tour’s first event at Silver Lakes, was the only player besides Cole who entered the final points event in contention for Player of the Year. County marked Wigington’s only miss of the season, which included eight points tournaments.

Final points factor in the top-five finishes, and County counts 1.5 times.

Cole entered the County Championship in the driver’s seat with a season resume that includes three wins. To unseat Cole, Wigington needed to win at The Hill and for Cole to finish fifth or worse.

Cole clinched his sixth player-of-the-year title, all coming in the past 10 seasons. He thanked his County Championship co-leader, who also happens to be the Tour’s president, and vice president Matt Rogers, who runs the County Championship.

“It’s nice,” Cole said. “I’ve kind of cut back my schedule a little bit. I skipped Silver Lakes this year and just played the few I could play, but it’s always nice to win.

“Jeremy and Matt have put so much into this for the last 10 or 15 years, whatever it is now. It’s nice to see, over the course of a summer, you put in some good rounds. You’ve won a few, lost a few, but at the end of the year, they say, ‘OK, well you’re the player of the year,’ or whatever. I’m just glad Jeremy and Matt have put so much into it over the years for us to kind of have something to shoot for and not just be a bunch of old men out there, just trying to relive the glory days.”

There’s still one more day for Calhoun County Tour glory, and McGatha looks to join Cole, Wigington, Jacob LeCroy, John Rollins and Andrew Brooks on the list of tournament winners for 2023.

Saturday’s shotgun start had McGatha starting on his traditional first hole, No. 6. He birdied four of the first five holes, what he called “the hard stretch,” to send off on a journey of nine birdies and one bogey, No. 11.

Now, it’s all about finishing.

“These things, you’ve got to put two rounds together,” he said. “I’ve shot a 64 in the Etowah County (Open) and followed it with a 74 and didn’t even come close.

“I love it up here. I’ve won the County three times and finished second nine times. Honestly, I’m tired of finishing second, but I’m getting older. I’ll try my best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Calhoun County Championship scores

Jeremy McGatha6262
Ty Cole6262
Brennan Clay6363
Chad Calvert6363
John Rollins6464
Chris Cox6466
Vance Lewis6767
Chip Howell6868
Sawyer Edwards6868
Clay Calkins6868
Gary WigingtonWD
Ott Chandler6969
Jonathan Pate6969
Zach Mangum6969
Tim Woodard7070
Billy Thompson7070
Andrew Brooks7070
Benji Turley7070
Kevin Daugherty7070
Daniel Black7070
Tanner Wells7171
Dustin Travis7171
Randy Lipscomb7171
Keaton Borrelli7171
Tim Steward7272
Chris Sprayberry7272
Landon Holley7272
Chris Randall7272
Matt Rogers7272
Bob Eaton7272
David Coffee7272
Mark McCaig7272
Jeff Noah7272
Chris Reaves7373
Rush Rutledge7373
Doug Gardner7373
Will Brown7373
Chase Hollingsworth7373
Chris Hubbard7373
Josh Poole7373
Tim Turner7474
Ted Towns7474
Lamar Carter7474
Landon Straub7474
Scott Watson7474
Nick Ledbetter7474
Kolby Slick7575
Dennis Austin7575
Mike Hughston7676
Johnny Barnes7676
Layton Bussey7676
Chance Harris7676
Kenny Fulmer7676
Eric Cannington7676
Ted Heim7777
Cam Hurst7777
Ryder Hudgins7777
Vann Hall7777
Tyler Dopson7777
Tyler TenEyck7878
Russ Montgomery7878
Mark Cotton7878
Taylor Vera7878
Bradley Elliott7979
Gage Ledbetter7979
Doug Huie7979
Chad Mullinax8080
George Salmon8080
Hunter Carr8080
Jimbo Phillips8080
Marc Gaines8080
Nick Hubbard8080
Austin Jones8181
Blake Jones8181
Danny Whitaker8181
Logan Watson8181
Randy Watson8282
Gene Hicks8484
Carson Chandler8484
Casey Turner8888
Kelly Rogers8888
Larry Champion9191

Sunday tee times

Sunday tee times for the 87th Calhoun County Golf Championship

8 A.M.

Hole 1A: Scott Watson, Nick Ledbetter, Dennis Austin, Kolby Slick

Hole 1B: Tim Turner, Ted Towns, Lamar Carter, Landon Straub

Hole 2: Layton Bussey, Chance Harris, Kenny Fulmer, Eric Cannington

Hole 3: Mike Hughston, Johnny Barnes, Ted Heim, Cam Hurst

Hole 4: Ryder Hudgins, Vann Hall, Tyler Dopson, Tyler TenEyck, Russ Montgomery

Hole 5: Mark Cotton, Taylor Vera, Bradley Elliott, Doug Huie

Hole 6: Gage Ledbetter, Chad Mullinax, George Salmon, Jimbo Phllips

Hole 7: Hunter Carr, Marc Gaines, Nick Hubbard, Austin Jones, Blake Jones

Hole 8: Danny Whitkaer, Logan Watson, Randy Watson, Gene Hicks

Hole 9: Carson Chandler, Casey Turner, Kelly Rogers, Larry Champion

1 P.M.

Hole 1A: John Rollins, Chris Cox, Vance Lewis, Chip Howell

Hole 1B: Jeremy McGatha, Ty Cole, Brennan Clay, Chad Calvert

Hole 2: Sawyer Edwards, Clay Calkins, Ott Chandler, Jonathan Pate

Hole 3: Zach Mangum, Timmy Woodard, Billy Thompson, Andrew Brooks

Hole 4: Benji Turley, Kevin Daugherty, Daniel Black.

Hole 5: Tanner Wells, Dustin Travis, Randy Lipscomb, Keaton Borrelli

Hole 6: Tim Steward, Chris Sprayberry, Landon Holley, Chris Randall

Hole 7: Matt Rogers, Bob Eaton, David Coffee, Mark McCaig

Hole 8: Jeff Noah, Chris Hubbard, Rush Rutledge, Doug Gardner

Hole 9: Will Brown, Chase Hollingsworth, Josh Poole, Chris Reaves.

Cover photo: Ty Cole, shown during the Oxford City Championship at Cider Ridge on July 9, has clinched his sixth Calhoun County Player of the Year honor. (File photo)

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