Ellison ended a frustrating run of second-place finishes on Sunday by shooting a final round 65 to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Indian Oaks Country Club Invitational.
Since winning the 2009 Calhoun County Championship, Ellison has gone through a stretch that has seen him finish second in five individual tournaments — including two in the Calhoun County Golf Tour — and end up second-best among Tour-registered players in another. Two of the runner-up finishes came in playoffs.
There was no doubt about Sunday. Ellison played 36 holes of bogey-free golf in posting a record-setting 16-under-par 128 that won by eight shots over playing partners Marcus Harrell and Randy Reaves.
“What I’m most proud of this weekend is no mistakes for 36 holes,” Ellison said. “I’m finishing second in these tournaments and losing by one and two (shots) and making bogeys.
“I’m proud of play 36 holes with no bogeys and finish the tournament.”
Ellison tied or set three County Tour event records during the weekend. His opening round 9-under 63 tied Garrett Burgess for the best single round in series history, while his 14 birdies and 16-under score broke 36-hole event records set by Ott Chandler in 2009.
He has broken 70 in each of his past three County Tour rounds and now leads the Tour with a 69.33 stroke average.
Ellison entered the round with a four-shot lead and just had to play smart to finish it off. He birdied his first two holes of the day and was 3-under at the turn. He added two more birdies at 12 and 13 and closed it out with birdies on 17 and 18.
“He was so on his game, there were very few, if any (holes), he had the opportunity to have a hiccup on,” Reaves said. “He just played solid all day.
“Having that big of a lead, which is a courtesy call to his game, gives him a little bit of comfort to come on the last day and play solid. He started out birdie-birdie and that pretty much just sealed the deal.”
Reaves made three consecutive birdies in the middle of his front nine and turned in 4-under 32, but only gained one stroke on the lead.
Harrell made three birdies in his first seven holes and didn’t gain any ground at all. He has finished second in each of his past two County Tour events.
“I just didn’t hit it good enough,” Harrell said. “I hit the ball really good (Saturday) and have been hitting it pretty good, but (Sunday) I couldn’t hit it close enough to give him a run for anything.
“We couldn’t put any pressure on him, couldn’t make enough birdies early.”
The tournament victory extended Ellison’s lead in the County Tour Player of the Year race to more than 260 points over Harrell, with three – maybe four – eligible tournaments remaining, including the big-point County Championship.
“It’ll be a tough finish, as it was for Jeremy (McGatha) last year,” Ellison said. “He played so solid and so steady and it was a tough finish for him. I can only prepare for a tough finish.”