Everybody who plays golf and works for a living probably wishes they were so lucky.
O’Toole, a club repair specialist at Inverness Golf in Birmingham, accepted his boss’ invitation to take his spot in the Wilfred Galbraith Invitational at Anniston Country Club and parlayed it into a victory.
The 22-year-old recent Samford University graduate shot 2-under-par 68 for the second straight round Sunday and won the county’s first major by three shots over Jeff Champion of Pell City. Jeremy McGatha finished third overall, the best finisher among the Calhoun County Golf Tour players in the field.
O’Toole never knew of the Galbraith before this week. His boss, Inverness owner and Anniston native Guice Potter III, was planning to play, but when he couldn’t get away, he encouraged the 2012 State Match Play champion to go in his place.
“He’s always been so supportive on me,” O’Toole said. “He wants me to play in everything I can play in. He’s never said, ‘No, you can’t play, you need to work.’
“To be honest with you he has been so supportive of me over the past two years and helped me out so much. When he tells me to go play, I go play.”
Good move. By the turn Sunday O’Toole had a five-shot lead and a seven shot-lead through 11. He started separating himself with a long birdie putt on 5, saved par on 6, and then birdied 7, 9 and 11.
He may have hit a couple loose shots in the closing holes, but he always managed to recover.
He said the crystal trophy for winning the tournament “probably” will be displayed in the store.
“I can’t imagine him letting me take this thing home,” O’Toole said.
Playing in his first individual tournament of the season, Champion made a run at O’Toole on the back nine, making consecutive birdies on 13 and 14 to close within four with four holes to play.
The 49-year-old former mini-tour player missed a chance to pick up another shot with a three-putt bogey on 16 after O’Toole missed the elevated green. He was effectively closed out on 17 when O’Toole made a 35-foot putt to save par after hitting his second shot way right into the hazard alongside No. 9 fairway.
Champion finished with a 70.
“For my first tournament of the year I think the last nine holes I played pretty solid,” Champion said. “I hit some decent golf shots for a change, which was good. ... It gives me something to look a little forward to.
“I’m a little upset (because) I’ve won Gadsden before and that was a big tournament for me and I’d love to win this one. I had a good chance to, or at least I put myself in a position for it, but the kid played good. He played and putted better than I did today and he deserved to win.”
McGatha had three birdies and a bogey in his round, collecting the 300 series points that go to the County Tour medalist. He hit every green on the back nine in regulation and 14 in the round. He won the Championship B flight.
He finished tied for 12th and tied for sixth in the previous two Calhoun County Tour events.
Ott Chandler remains the County Tour points leader (800), 100 points ahead of Jaylon Ellison.
“This tournament, for me, I’ve played well up here and finished second twice overall,” McGatha said. “I think today I wound up finishing third overall, but first in our Tour points. I don’t know if I’ll ever win here.
“It’s hard. The greens are so demanding. I had 66 putts (in two rounds) and shot 1-over and the winner’s 4-under. It’s close, but this place is so demanding. It’s fun, it’s frustrating, but I’m going to keep plugging.
“To get the 300 points, I needed it. Does it feel like a victory? Of course not. You want to win outright, but you’ve got to take them where they fall. I needed the 300. I’m glad I got them.”
The tournament was reduced to 36 holes for the championship flight and 18 for the tournament players because of Saturday’s washout.
The other flight winners were Chip Howell (Championship C), Billy Thompson (First), Tim Steward (Second), Kyle Daugherty (Third), Kenny Fulmer (Fourth) and Danny Smith (Fifth).
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.