Wedgeworth comes closest to million dollar jackpot

Gary Wedgeworth of Whitehouse was closest to the hole during the finals of the 26th Annual UT?Tyler Suddenlink Patriot Million Dollar Hole-In-One Contest at Hollytree Country Club. Pictured are (from left) Suddenlink’s Skip Ogle, UT Tyler president Dr. Rodney Mabry, Wedgeworth and Hole-In-One chairman Jim White. (Jake A. Waddingham)

Gary Wedgeworth needed some new clubs.

His old ones were just good enough to deliver such a prize.

At the 26th Annual Tyler Suddenlink Patriot Million Dollar Hole-in-One Contest at Hollytree Country Club’s hole No. 11 on Sunday, Wedgeworth’s attempt was the closest of the day to claim the top prize: new clubs and swing lessons.

“I was actually needing some clubs,” he said. “This is actually going to be a good deal here.”

Wedgeworth, of Whitehouse, sent his shot rolling just past the million-dollar hole to within 5 feet, 9 inches.

“Man it felt good; it felt better than I thought it was going to be,” Wedgeworth said of the shot. “Somehow I just hit it just right.

“It was fun. It was pretty exciting.”

Richard Davis of Tyler came in second at 10 feet, 8 inches and came the closest to hitting a hole-in-one. His shot, which directly followed Wedgeworth’s, nearly dropped in the Cadillac cup, which would have won him a Cadillac SRX.

Tyler’s Ted Hobby finished in third, hitting his ball to within 11 feet, 7 inches of the million-dollar hole, 150 feet from the tees.

The contest featured three holes in all. The center pin would award $1 million, the left pin $25,000 and the right pin the aforementioned Cadillac. The contest raises scholarship money for UT Tyler.

This year there was a $500 prize to the first person to hit within 2 feet of the million-dollar pin, though the reward went unclaimed.

For finishing second, Davis won a TireMax gift certificate and an Arista Collegiate Collection certificate, worth $400 each.

Hobby’s third-place haul included six Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail passes valued at $500.

Wedgeworth, 44, hit a few shots at the practice range before the event — some good and some bad, he said. He took the 40th of 43 shots.

“I was so nervous,” said Wedgeworth, who had never qualified for the finals before despite a handful of attempts in previous years.

“I was kind of worried that I was just going to dub it, skull it or something. I just picked it up and hit it pretty good.”

Wedgeworth has used a set of Ping clubs that he estimates are 15-20 years old. They were handed down from his late father, who’s to credit for getting him started playing golf.

His reward for winning this year’s contest, which includes irons, woods, putter and bag, is valued at $1,700.

Might Wedgeworth compete in the competition next year with his shiny new clubs?

“Heck yeah,” he said.

“I’m going to try my best to win that million dollars next year.”

NOTES: UT Tyler announced Sunday the creation of a new scholarship named after Mike Cearley to honor the Cearley family’s support of the hole-in-one contest. The Cearley family had half a dozen golfers compete in the finals.

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