Sixty-year-old David Sanders led only once in the two-day Calhoun County senior golf championship, but it was at the right time.
He tapped in a short putt for par on the fifth playoff hole to cap off an improbable five-stroke rally on the back nine to win at Cane Creek on Saturday.
“I gave the trees a fight all day,” said Sanders, who hit five trees. “Ott gave us a chance to catch up and we appreciated that. I just tried to hang in there and shoot the best score I could. I was just thrilled to get into the playoff. Ott caught a bad lie on that last playoff hole, and I was able to get it in close and get the win.”
Said Chandler: “My driving was terrible and I just left too many putts short. The bottom line was I just did not play well today.”
Sanders shot 69 on Friday, then a 75 in regulation Saturday for a 144. Chandler, 50, followed up a 67 on Friday with a 77. Allen Mangham (145), Chip Howell (148) and David Martin (149) followed them in the standings.
”Some days they just don’t fall in the hole,” said Mangham, who was one stroke behind the leaders. “You just make the best shot you can. These guys (Chandler and Sanders) were fun to play with. It was tough to come back from five down like that, but 16 really hurt when I got a bogey from 10 feet.”
Sanders started the day two strokes behind Chandler, and it appeared Chandler was going to pull away and quietly march to victory as he birdied the first hole and Sanders carded a pair of early bogeys. After four holes, Chandler’s lead was at five.
Sanders cut it to three with a birdie at the par-5 fifth hole as Chandler had a bogey.
Chandler pushed the lead back to five shots with eight holes to go, and that’s when the tide turned. Chandler hit his drive on No. 11 near a tree. He hit a miraculous shot over the lake and from behind the tree but ended up in a green bunker.
From there, he bogeyed the hole. However, Sanders bogeyed and the lead was still five with seven holes to go.
Chandler then bogeyed Nos. 12, 13 and 14 and Sanders went birdie, par, par, and the lead was one. Chandler made par on the next three holes with two near-misses for birdies. Sanders bogeyed No. 17, and Chandler led by two shots with one hole to go.
It seemed Chandler was still in control as he boomed his drive at No. 18. Things got interesting on his second shot as he nailed it over the green into the ditch, and Sanders was on the fringe in two. Chandler had trouble getting out of the ditch, while Sanders birdied the hole. Chandler missed a 9-footer for the win, and all of a sudden, a playoff was set with both golfers at 144.
It was vintage golf in the playoff as neither Sanders nor Chandler budged. They both made par through the first four holes. Chandler narrowly missed a birdie and a win on the third playoff hole when a 20-foot putt hit the back of the hole, popped up in the air and land on the front edge of the hole, but would not go in.
The 471-yard par-5 was Chandler’s undoing as he hit the trees with his drive. His third shot ended up in a green-side bunker, and he ended up with a bogey as Sanders two-putted for par and the win.
Bill Fincher won the first flight with a two-day total of 150. Doug Bragg was second with a 152 and Bill Curry third at 155.
Mike Fincher took the second flight with a 160 as he finished one stroke ahead of Bob Masakowski. Mike Hammonds finished third with a score of 164.