McGatha shot a 4-under-par 67 on his former home course, but finished second to Rainsville’s Jon Bailey for the title. McGatha’s 36-hole total of 138 fell two shots short.
Bailey followed his opening-round 64 with a 72.
McGatha had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch midway through the final round to get to 5-under for the tournament through 14, but then blocked his tee shot on 15 and hit his recovery shot into the pond that guards the green.
“I get so close then just can’t close it,” he said. “Between 2008 and 2013 I’ve had two wins, three seconds and a third. Close doesn’t count. It’s fun, but that’s how hard golf is.”
Ty Cole of Gadsden was third (139) and defending champion Chad Calvert of Boaz was fourth (140). Calvert, who took out McGatha in a playoff last year, was 4-under through seven holes Sunday with a one-shot lead over Bailey, but played his last 11 holes in 6-over.
Matt Rogers shot a final-round 69 (143) to win the first flight by three shots. T.J. McGatha (150) finished fourth in the flight.
Skylar Dennis won the second flight (151) and Clay Jones (160) won the third flight.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.