E.A. Sports Today

‘Wonder’ no more

Wigington allays own doubts, finishes strong to win Oxford City Championship and become fifth winner in five Calhoun County Golf Tour events this season.

Cover photo: Gary Wigington (left) and Cider Ridge Golf Course owner and president Cory Etter pose with the trophy Sunday, after Wigington won the 2024 Oxford City Championship. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Golfers play into old age, but age and doubt dance as partners into the mind.

How long can one play at their highest level? When will seemingly younger and younger golfers begin to blast their way out of reach?

How many more times will one see his or her name in the championship flight, let alone on top?

“I was beginning to wonder,” the 55-year-old Gary Wigington said Sunday, reflecting on a long-for-him winless streak on the Calhoun County Golf Tour.

Wonder no more. Wigington sank a 40-foot birdie putt to finish off his latest Tour victory Sunday, finishing 69-70–139 to edge Jeremy McGatha by three strokes in the Oxford City Championship.

Wigington became the fifth winner in five Tour events this season. The four-time Tour player of the year bagged his 25th victory in Tour points events and 26th overall, counting last year’s County Match Play, the Tour’s de facto all-star tournament.

He scored his first points victory since winning 2023’s first points event, at Silver Lakes, and his latest victory ended a span of 12 points events without a first-place finish.

The victory left him feeling like he felt after winning last year’s match-play event … reaffirmed. Age hasn’t knocked him out of the always-contending group yet.

“Agewise, I’m 55, and it’s just hard to compete with these young guys,” he said. “They’re just good, and they hit that danged thing a mile.

“I’m not as sharp mentally or physically, for sure, so every win at this point is a lot more important than we was young, because they’re just harder.”

Wigington went wire to wire at Cider Ridge. He and McGatha finished the first round tied at 3-under 69, and Sunday’s five-birdie round kept him atop the field.

His day included two bomb putts … a 30-footer for birdie on No. 10 and the 40-footer on No. 18. The latter touched off applause from the clubhouse gallery, and he got high-fives from McGatha, Tanner Wells and Ty Cole, long-time Tour veterans who joined him in the day’s final foursome.

As Wigington cleaned his cart and put equipment into his pickup, two younger players in another pickup stopped, called him “Mr. Twig,” a reference to his nickname, and jokingly asking for his autograph.

“Give me about an hour,” he said with a chuckle.

Dawson Day, from Rome, Ga., finished third, four shots back of Wigington.

Ty Cole, tied with Wells for second after a first-round 70, struggled Sunday. This year’s winners at Cane Creek withdrew after running out of balls while playing No. 18.

Wells shot a 79 Sunday.

Four of this season’s five winners played in the Oxford City Championship, though Andrew Weathers (Silver Lakes) withdrew during the final round. John Rollins (Twin Bridges) finished in the first flight.

This was a day for one of Calhoun County golf’s most successful players over many years, another day to finish on top. He did it in a season that’s shaping up as one of the Tour’s most competitive in recent memory.

“Instead of it being five or six guys that legitimately have a chance to win one, now you’ve got 10-15,” Wigington said. “There’s just never been that many.

“The Tour has grown. We’ve taken people from everywhere, basically, and it’s just hard to win. It’s just all of the young kids, and they do it all day long every day. I think you’ll see a lot more of that in the future. There’s going to be a lot more different winners.”


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Lamar Ward96WD

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