Chandler shot a final-round 74 and won the Cider Ridge Invitational by a whopping 10 shots.
The 48-year-old McClellan resident, the first-round leader, finished the tournament at 3-under-par 141. Andrew Lee of Pell City finished second (151). Mark Durden was third (152).
“To win by 10 shots is pretty impressive,” Chandler said after the nearly six-hour final round. “To beat that field by 10, I never expected that going into the weekend.”
Chandler entered the day with a six-shot cushion as the only player to shoot under par in the opening round, but that didn’t mean the final day was without drama.
Jaylon Ellison tore through a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round in 6-under-par to close within three shots of the lead. The run started with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, then went birdie-eagle-birdie on 8, 9 and wind-blown 10.
The run helped him regain all the strokes he lost by playing his first three holes in 5-over-par. But after getting that close, Ellison melted down with a 6-8-9-3-7 finish that cost him 12 strokes to par. He wound up shooting 83 and finishing at 156 for the tournament.
“He’s a great player,” Chandler said. “Any time you can go out there and beat Jaylon and beat him pretty convincingly after two days, you’ve done something.”
It was a tough day for Ellison all the way around. Earlier in the day he lost the clutch on his car and ran out of gas on his way to the golf course.
When the round was over, he turned in his scorecard, got into the car he arrived in and drove out into the night.
Chandler gave himself some breathing room with a birdie on the par-3 12th and a par save after dropping from the hazard on 13.
The threat from Ellison ended on 14 when the former Calhoun County Player of the Year made a messy double bogey. He hit his drive into the hazard left of the landing area, played it into the creek, then, in a last desperate effort, squirted the ball off a mucky lie back into the fairway.
From there, all Chandler concentrated on was fairways, greens and pars.
“I just hung in there,” Chandler said. “This is a lot of golf course from these back tees and that wind blowing like that.
“I don’t know what other kind of good scores were shot, but I fought and grinded all day to shoot 2-over-par.”
Ellison’s collapse opened the door for Lee to finish second despite shooting 77 in the final round and making double bogey on the final hole.
The Chandler win was part of a family double. Son Dalton won the first flight by a stroke over Frank Toland and 2012 County Player of the Year Gary Wigington.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.