SILVER LAKES — Bystanders described two-time defending Sunny King champ Ty Cole’s drive over the water as a “chance.” If Cole risked anything, it more than paid off when the ball landed safely in the fringe.
Or, at least, it should have.
“Ty hit a great drive up there, and we’re chipping, and we don’t make birdie in a scramble, which is bad,” his teammate Gary Wigington said. “So that’s the way it ended.”
Capitalizing on Cole’s drive with a birdie would have given the 2016 and 2017 champions sole possession of the lead after the first day of the 40th annual Sunny King Charity Classic. Instead, they finished day 14-under par and tied for first with Cody Robinson-Dustin Viehe, who also finished at 58.
“We’re trying to stay humble with the fact that we are tied for the lead now,” Viehe said. “There's tons of golf that has to be played still.”
Cole described his team’s inability to birdie hole No. 17 or 18 as momentum killing.
“We got lucky to be tied for the lead," he said. “We hit it in bunch of good spots but didn’t take advantage of it. So, if we end up tied for the lead after today, we’re pretty lucky.”
The team of Randy Lipscomb and Jake Nichols is one of four at one stroke back, joining Ryan Howard-Chad Reavis, Lance Evans-Chandler Wilborn and Kevin Daughtery-Brian Woodfin.
Lipscomb said 59 was about the score he and his playing partner hoped to hit, especially considering they usually don’t fare as well on the greens during Sunday’s event at the Anniston Country Club.
“I hit the ball really good, and Jake putted really good,” Lipscomb said. “So I only putted like five or six times today, and he pretty much made everything in front of me.”
Evans, who won the 2014 King Classic with Howard, said he feels confident heading into today’s trip to the Cider Ridge course.
“We ended up the last 10 holes we played great,” Evans said. “So I think, going into tomorrow, I think it’s a bonus, so all we got to do is keep on going. I mean Chandler putted the ball well.”
Conditions were less than optimal in the morning, when multiple teams reported playing through a thick fog. Visibility issues did not prevent the first team out, Robinson and Viehe, from finishingtied atop the standings.
Viehe said the fog did impact their performance early but they still fell only one stroke short of their goal.
The weather took a turn for the worse again in the afternoon, as fellow leaders Wigington and Cole finished up.
Wigington said the rain and sound of thunder might have caused them to rush a few shots, although Cole said the wind helped him with his final drive after hurting him on 17.
When asked if the pair felt increased pressure this year after claiming the previous two tournament titles, the duo answered without hesitation.
“We’re just trying to go out and win it, don’t matter what we did last year,” Wigington said.