The longtime teammates added another victory to their impressive resume Sunday, shooting a final-round 10-under-par 62 at Cane Creek Golf Course to wrap up another Calhoun County Two-Man Championship title.
It was their seventh win in the event since 2003, to go along with their multiple Sunny King Classic titles as well as their numerous individual wins on the Calhoun County Golf Tour.
This weekend they shot a two-day total of 22-under 120 and won by two shots over pairing partners Matt Rogers and Gary Wigington and Frank Brady-Jason Johnson, whose 61 in the modified scramble was the best round of the day.
“Jeremy and I have a special chemistry together,” Ellison said. “We play with a lot of confidence and a lot of trust together, and that goes a long way towards trying to win golf tournaments.
“One of our mottos is never take a tournament for granted, whether it’s an individual or team event, (but) when we play together, when we play our game, we feel like we have the opportunity to win the golf tournament.”
Despite opening a four-shot lead early in the round, they were threatened several times by the hot play of their challengers.
They were eventually able to stave them off with solid partners play in their last four holes. McGatha made a crucial 12-foot par putt on 16 after everyone in the group misread the wind on their approach and then made a 10-footer for birdie on 17. Ellison then made a 20-footer for birdie on 18.
Both of the birdie putts matched birdies from their playing partners.
“We almost blew the tournament on 16,” McGatha said. “Then we go bomb putt, bomb putt, bomb putt the last three holes to win by two.
“We trust each other. We’ve been partners for 14-15 years and of course you’re going to have your ups and downs, but we have steadily worked it out and we have had a good … record.”
Both McGatha-Ellison and Rogers-Wigington had swings of good and bad early in the round.
McGatha-Ellison entered the day with a one-shot lead over their playing partners and extended it to four with birdies on three of their first four holes while Rogers and Wigington were only making pars.
Then McGatha-Ellison hit a lull, making three straight pars while Rogers and Wigington were making three straight birdies to draw back within one after seven holes.
“Those three holes were kind of a reality check because we started the way they did yesterday and really had the opportunity to really go low for the day and we hit a wall,” Ellison said.
“We talk about that all the time as partners,” McGatha said. “If you get a lead and you have a chance to make more birdies and keep going, you try your best to go. You try, but that’s how hard golf is. The minute you think you’ve got it and you go par-par-par, it bites you.”
Both teams birdied the par-5 eighth, then McGatha-Ellison birdied 9 to turn with a two-shot lead. The margin was back to one through 10 holes, then McGatha-Ellison birdied 12.
“We’d get within one and they’d just always made a birdie,” Wigington said. “Right when you think you were going to catch them, they’d make a birdie and go two up.”
The crushing blow came on the par-5 14th when Ellison had a two-putt birdie after hitting a 3-wood from 260 and Rogers-Wigington only made par. That gave them a three-shot lead with four holes to play.
Rogers and Wigington did birdie three of the last four holes, but McGatha-Ellison held them off with a par-birdie-birdie finish.
“We played good in the middle there and just couldn’t quite catch them,” Wigington said. “They played real good coming in; played solid all day long. They play great as a team. When one of them falls down, the other is there to pick him up – every time.”
Johnson and Brady climbed into contention with a hot start, but never got closer than two to the leaders during the round.
Playing three holes in front of the leaders and focusing only on their game, they birdied three of their first holes. They also birdied their last five holes in a row, giving them a scorecard with birdies on six of the first seven holes and seven birdies on the front nine.
“We knew going in, three back, we had to get a good start,” Johnson said. “Midway through the round we got a little down and had to spark back up at the end.”
In the other flights, Adrian Geeting and T.K. Waugh won a sudden-death playoff over Dalton Chandler and Richie Nabors for the first flight title. Jake Minnix and Lee Morgan shot 67 to win the second flight by four shots. Jimmy Jackson and Buddy Walker shot 73 and won the third flight by six.
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.