Originally created 04/24/04

South Aiken forges into the lead



AIKEN-Coleman Calhoun had no good reason to figure he'd go low Friday.

With a scoring average of 79, the Vidalia sophomore was a solid team player, but not a consistent No. 1 golfer.

Yet he outdid himself in the first round of the ninth annual Joe Wyatt Memorial Golf Tournament. Calhoun carded 5-under-par 67 and leads the field by three shots at Houndslake Country Club.

"If I hit a lot of fairways; that's when I start to play good," Calhoun said.

Thirteen golfers are within five shots of the lead entering today's final round. Zack Sucher of St. Pauls and Thomas Taylor of Hardaway are tied for second at 70, while Easley's David Dannelly, Greenwood's Ben Martin and T.L. Hanna's Phillip Mollica each shot 71.

Greenbrier's Will Rogers and South Aiken's Patrick Cunning are tied for seventh at 72.

Paced by Cunning's performance, the Thoroughbreds posted the day's low round with 11-over par 299. South Aiken leads Easley by two shots and Greenwood by three. St. Pauls and T.L. Hanna trail by six.

"We're pleased, but I think we can shoot lower," said South Aiken coach Jeremy West, whose team entered the event with two consecutive tournament victories. "It'd be nice to win this, but I'd like for us to be competitive."

West said as his team prepares for its region tournament in 11 days, he'd like to see better scoring.

"Our goal was to shoot two rounds under 300, and we're halfway there," he said. "If we can put together two rounds under 300, we can compete for a state title."

South Aiken is seeking its first Joe Wyatt title since 2001, while Calhoun is trying to capture his first tournament win.

The 16-year-old walked off the course upset with the three "stupid" bogeys he made in his six-birdie, one-eagle round.

"That's just his attitude," Vidalia coach Denis Watkins said. "He's so competitive."

Calhoun got his round off to a quick start. He stuck a 170-yard 6-iron approach to 3 feet for a gimme eagle on the par-5 first hole.

After rolling in birdie putts of 10 feet on No. 3 and 20 feet on No. 5, Calhoun found himself 4-under.

At 3-under through 15 holes, Calhoun two-putted for birdie at the par-5 16th and then watched his tee ball dance around the flagstick on the par-3 17th to set up a short birdie putt.

Regarded as a long-hitter, Calhoun simply destroyed the course's par-5 holes.

He went 5-under on the four-hole stretch and hit every par-5 green in two shots.

"I hit the ball real good and putted good," he said. "I hit a lot of sand wedges and pitching wedges into the greens."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645

or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

Joe Wyatt Memorial

Teams: 299-South Aiken. 301-Easley. 303-Greenwood. 305-T.L. Hanna, St. Pauls. 306-Northridge, Hardaway. 307-Augusta Prep. 310-Auburn. 311-Richmond Academy. 312-Lakeside, Vidalia. 313-Spartanburg. 318-Wando. 319-Dutch Fork. 324-Socastee. 326-Stratford. 327-Greenbrier. 353-Aiken.

Individuals: 67-Coleman Calhoun, Vidalia. 70-Zack Sucher, St. Pauls; Taylor Thomas, Hardawy. 71-David Dannelly, Easley; Ben Martin, Greenwood; Phillip Mollica, T.L. Hanna.