Four-time King Classic champions Jeremy McGatha and Jaylon Ellison also have called it quits and will be playing with different partners next summer. And their breakup is having a domino effect throughout the tournament's championship flight.
McGatha and Ellison have been a dominant team not only in the Sunny King but other two-man events around the state, but their partnership -- kindly put -- simply dissolved. McGatha now intends to play in the Classic with Silver
Lakes assistant pro Brennan Clay, while Ellison has lined up Georgia collegiate player P.J. Shields.
"Twig and Randy's breakup was a friendly one, but ours is not," McGatha said. "We've had a good run."
Added Ellison: “We probably grew apart.”
Ellison and Shields will make their local debut as a team at the Buddy Moore Memorial Classic later this month at Anniston Municipal Golf Course.
“He’s a good player, a really good player,” Ellison said. “He’s asked me several times to play in stuff. He’s an Eddie Jackson protégé, and me and
Jeremy both grew up under Eddie Jackson. Eddie said this year at the Chicken
Dinner (Tournament at LaFayette Golf Club) he’s the most talented player he’s ever coached.”
Clay has played with former Jacksonville State teammate Daniel Glidewell the last three years. They finished at the bottom of the Championship A flight this year, but were third in 2012 and second in 2011. It is uncertain with whom or whether Glidewell will play next year. He teamed with Nathan Bennett before joining forces with Clay, but Bennett played with Ott Chandler this year.
Bennett and Ellison both had teams in the Emerald Coast Tour's Pro-Am at
Fort Rucker and finished first and third, respectively. The team headed by
Cane Creek Pro-Invitational winner David Miller finished second. All three will complete in the pro division today, with Ellison playing as an amateur
(as he did at Cane Creek) in the run-up to turning pro in January.
Both Clay and McGatha are looking forward to their new partnership.
"I think it's going to be pretty good," Clay said. "I've been wanting to play with him for a while and now I've got a chance to do it. We feed off each other and have fun with each other. I think it's a great partnership.
If we don't win, we'll have great fun."
Reaves said before this year’s King Classic the 2013 edition would be his last year with Wigington in the tournament -- unless, of course, they won the title -- in order to give his partner more opportunities to win more titles.
Together they've won a record-tying five Classic titles.
Wigington has balked at the idea of breaking up the team and reiterated the position during last week’s Pine Hill Invitational, which he won in record-tying fashion.
“I’ll play (in the King) and I hadn’t quite given up on me and Randy playing again yet, but it is looking that way,” he said. “I’m going to give it a little time and see if I can’t change his mind.”
In fact, he hasn’t given any thought to a new partner, although, as Reaves suggested, they’re starting to line up.
“A couple people had mentioned it, but I said right now I’m going to wait to see if I can talk Randy into playing again,” Wigington said. “It’s funny. It was like Monday or Tuesday after the Sunny King and Randy had texted me
about Jeremy and Jaylon, and I said, See what you started now.’”
GAMECOCKS ON THE GO: Jacksonville State's Tomasz Anderson put together a strong run in the English Amateur before falling in the semifinals Friday.
The rising junior was seeded fourth at Frilford Heath after shooting 7-under-par 137 and finishing among three players two shots off the qualifying medalist.
Sticking to his routine throughout, he won four matches before falling to Matthew Fitzpatrick in the semis 7-and-6. Fitzpatrick was the low amateur in
The Open Championship at Muirfield last month. Fitzpatrick lost in the 36-hole final 4-and-3.
"Playing Fitzpatrick was hard as there was a big crowd and he got me out of my rhythm," Anderson said. "I haven't been in that situation so it was it was a learning experience for me, but now I have to come out the other end strong and with that strength to move forwards. ... This gives me a great grounding for coming back to JSU playing great."
Anderson will complete in the European Amateur in Spain later this week before returning to JSU in a couple weeks.
-- Former JSU player Danny Willett will be paired with Russell Henley of Macon, Ga., and Joost Luiten of The Netherlands in the first two rounds of next week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Willett is currently No. 100 in the World Golf Rankings and 52nd in the European Tour's Race To Dubai. He has six Euro top 20 finishes this year and finished T-15 at The Open Championship.
UPCOMING EVENTS: Entries are still being accepted for the 77th Calhoun County Championship, which is Aug 16-18 at Cane Creek Golf Course. Entry fee is $120.
The event will determine the Calhoun County Golf Tour Player of the Year, but is open to players of all skill levels. For more information call the pro shop at 820-9174. Firm deadline for entries is 5 p.m. Aug. 14.
Fewer than 60 points separate Gary Wigington, Ott Chandler and Jeremy McGatha in the top three places of the adjusted County Tour points standings, making them the favorites to win Player of the Year. Only 80 points separate places 11 through 18. The top 16 finishers in the standings earn spots in the County Match Play Championship.
-- The Buddy Moore tournament, Aug. 24-25 at Anniston Municipal, is full, although players can still sign up for a waiting list by calling the pro shop at 231-7631.
-- The third annual Trick or Treat Two-Man is set for Oct. 26-27 at Silver Lakes. The opening-round scramble will be nine holes on the Short Course and nine holes on one of the championship nines. The final round will be an 18-hole scamble on the championship course. The field is limited to 40 teams. Entry fee is $125, wihch includes two mulligans. For more information call Benji Turley (310-5480) or Brennan Clay (892-3268).
ACES IN THE CROWD: Derek Stewart scored a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at
Anniston Municipal earlier in the week. The hole was playing 122 yards and
Stewart used a sand wedge. The shot was witnessed by Doug Wright.
-- Pine Hill operator Jason Edwards began a new position as superintendent at The Lion GC in Bremen, Ga. He reports things will remain business as usual at his two other properties, Pine Hill and Talladega Municipal.
-- Brennan Clay will be looking to defend his title in the Dixie Section
Assistants Championship Aug. 19-20 at Grayson Valley CC. Silver Lakes assistant Jordan Evans also is in the 24-player field.
-- Matt Rogers is leading the Rome (Ga.) Golf Tour points standings. He holds a 19-point lead over Rob VanGorder. Rogers has won twice on that tour,
winning in back-to-back weeks at Callier Springs CC. Frank Brady, Rogers'
Sunny King partner, is tied for 10th. McGatha is tied for 16th.
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.