No one else stood a chance, especially after the first nine holes.
The Forsyth resident entered Sunday’s competition with a four-stroke lead, and then he shot a 7-under-par 65 to win by seven shots at Pinetree Country Club. McLuen finished at 19-under for the week and earned his second Georgia Open title. He also won in 2011, and now joins a group of 14 others — including former PGA Tour players Gene Sauers, Tim Simpson, Tommy Aaron and Franklin Langham, and current Marietta Country Club professional Stephen Keppler — to win the event multiple times.
“I’ve been playing well for about a month now,” McLuen said. “Coming to this golf course, I knew it was going to be a ball striker’s golf course, and I knew I had to hit it well. I played really great golf the last two days. I made one double on first hole yesterday and one bogey today and on this golf course, that’s solid. It feels good to win.”
Starting on the back nine, McLuen birdied five of his first nine holes to separate from the pack. He had a 6-stroke lead at the turn and no one challenged him on his second nine.
McLuen finished the tournament with rounds of 66-72-66-65.
“I’ve been putting it well,” McLuen said. “The greens are so good that if you hit it on line, they’re going in.”
Kennesaw State’s Jimmy Beck was a distant second at 12-under par after a final-round 67. Beck, who earned low amateur honors, opened his round with four birdies on his first nine, but all it allowed him to do was keep pace.
“Jimmy was pushing me earlier,” McLuen said. “He was making me play aggressive and not sit on the lead. When I birdied 18, I had a six-shot lead with nine to play, so I felt pretty comfortable.”
Because of the way McLuen played, all Beck could do was tip his cap in congratulations.
“I had a lower number in mind but even that number wouldn’t have gotten it done,” Beck said. “So congratulations to (McLuen). He played great this week. I made too many pars (Sunday) I guess. I gave myself plenty of opportunities, but I’m happy where I’m finished.”
Beck’s Kennesaw State teammate Kelby Burton ended up in a third-place tie with former Kennesaw State player Matt Nagy. Both finished at 8-under after shooting 70 and 72, respectively.
Former North Cobb golfer Chris Nicol tied for fifth with Eddie Lee of Cumming at 7-under after firing a 70 and 73, respectively. Nicol was 3-under after his first seven holes on the back nine, but got himself in trouble with back-to-back bogeys on 18 and 1.
“That kind of killed my round,” Nicol said.
Former Kennesaw State golfer Jonathan Klotz and Patrick Garrett of Powder Springs carded a 72 and a 74 in Sunday’s round and finished in a tie for 23rd at 7-over.
Rising Kennesaw Mountain senior Jonathan Keppler shot 77 on Sunday after his 81 Saturday put him out of the running and ended up in a four-way tie for 40th.
Former Kell golfers Michael Hines (72) and Zach Lindsey (74) finished in a tie for 44th at 13-over.