Patience was the key for Gary Wigington at the Calhoun County Championship on Saturday.
Playing the second round of the three-day tournament, Wigington double-bogeyed the par-3 No. 6 hole, which dropped him three shots behind Jeremy McGatha on the leaderboard. McGatha had just rammed in a 35-foot putt for birdie to get to 6-under par. An earlier bogey had Wigington at 3 over after six holes.
In the next eight holes, however, Wigington responded with six birdies to open up a stunning four-stroke lead by the time the foursome had left No. 14.
By the end of the day, Wigington held a three-stroke lead heading into today’s final round at Cane Creek. He sits at 135 after Saturday’s 69. McGatha (138) is second, followed by Cypress Hathorn (140), Jaylon Ellison (142), Ty Cole (143) and Grant Hockman (143).
“I played good, Wigington said. “I felt like I did not hit a bad shot all day. I putted and chipped good and I have been practicing that a lot. I had to be patient because I felt like I was hitting the ball good, but the ball wasn’t going in. It was a lot of fun out there.”
Wigington made a 14 footer for birdie from the fringe on No. 7 and followed that up with a short chip that snuggled in the side of the cup for birdie at No. 8. After he missed a short putt for birdie on No. 9, he chipped in from 20 feet on No. 10 for another birdie. He followed that with birdies at Nos. 12 and 13.
McGatha, who entered the day tied for the lead with Wigington, fought back with a birdie at No. 16 and had chopped the lead to two, but missed a short birdie putt that left him three back for the tournament as the day ended.
“I was playing well, but Twig just caught fire and he was putting and chipping so well,” McGatha said. “My putting got me. I never should have some of those 3-putts in the middle of the round.”
Hathon shot a second straight 70 to move into third place. He had three birdies on the back night to end up at 4 under after two rounds.
Ellison just could not get any putts to drop and ended up with a 74 for a two-day total of 2 under. He parred 14 holes on the day.
“I hit it well and just did not get it in the hole,” Ellison said. “In this golf tournament you have to putt well, and unfortunately I did not score well today. I am a ways back and got to play very well tomorrow.”
Foursome partner Matt Rogers started out the day in fourth place at 2 under, but dropped back in the pack with a 78. He started out with three straight pars.
“I struggled to try and get things going, but I have to play perfect golf to stay with these guys and it is tough. A lot of it is mental as I played some stupid golf today,” he said.
A side story to the tournament is the battle for the Calhoun County Player of the Year. The results of all the tournaments this year comes down to the final round today. Cole came into the tournament with a slight lead over Hockman. McGatha was in third, Wigington in fourth and Ellison in fifth.
Wigington is trying to win his third straight title and fourth in five years. McGatha has won the player of the year twice and Ellison once.