Stan Gann Jr. withstood a strong challenge from Conner Albright to win his fourth straight Macon-Middle Georgia Golf Championship on Sunday at the Brickyard at Riverside.
Gann followed up a first-round 69 on Saturday with a 71 on Sunday to defeat Albright by two strokes and become the first player to win the tournament four straight years.
“Being the first to win four means a lot to me,” said the 39-year-old Gann, who has won all four Macon-Middle Georgia Championships he has entered. “I want to be known as the best amateur golfer in the Middle Georgia area, and you have to win this tournament to be considered one of the best. I play to win, but I got a great test from Conner (Sunday).”
Gann entered the day with a one-stroke lead over Albright. But the 21-year-old Albright erased that deficit on the front nine. He tied Gann with a birdie on No. 3 and took a two-stroke lead on the par-5 sixth with an unlikely birdie after his second shot ended up behind a tree. Gann three-putted the hole after Albright’s birdie.
“He kind of shook me up on No. 6 because I glanced at his ball and thought he would have to chip back out and try to make par,” Gann said. “But he made a great third shot, and I lost my focus for a minute, and it cost me. I went from having the lead to being two down, but I knew there was a lot of golf to be played.”
Gann birdied No. 8 to get one shot back and tied it with a par on No. 12 while Albright could manage only a bogey.
The par-4 15th basically decided the championship. Albright hit a solid second shot to leave him 14 feet for birdie while Gann had a 20-footer for birdie. Gann drained his putt, and Albright three-putted, giving Gann the two-stroke lead that ended up being the difference.
“I felt good at the start and was playing well, but I will admit that I was very nervous heading into the back nine,” said Albright, who plays at Georgia College. “I know that Stan has been in that position before, and this was like my first time with a chance to win this tournament. I didn’t play terrible on Sunday, but when you are against a golfer like Stan, you can’t make mistakes. It was a great learning experience for me, though.”
Gann quickly agreed with Albright that experience played a part in his win.
“I’ve been playing for a long time, and my experience paid off when Conner took the lead,” Gann said. “He gave a valiant effort (Sunday), but me being in these type of situations for about 15 years longer than him paid off at the end.”
Shawn Hodge finished third, while Albright, the player with the lowest Bibb County score, was awarded the Macon City Championship. Gay McMichael won the Senior Championship.