DULUTH -- Acworth's Chris Nicol shot a 71 on Tuesday for a 136 tournament total and edged Sylvester's Sonny Skinner by one stroke in the final round of The Championship at Berkeley Hills Country Club.
Nicol entered the day with a four-stroke advantage and held off a furious comeback from Skinner, who posted a final-round best 67 on Tuesday. Nicol's play on par 5s proved to be the difference, shooting 7-under on those four holes during the two-day tournament.
"Today I played a little more conservatively," Nicol said. "And no lead's easy, especially when you have a big lead. With the guys out here playing, you know somebody's going to make a run. It's just trying to get off to a solid start and not giving them a chance. I was lucky enough to hold him off."
Skinner got into a rhythm early and shot a 4-under 32 on the front nine, birdieing four of the holes and putting some early pressure on the leader. Nicol, however, responded with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes to help him capture the tournament title.
"I just kept it in play and hit (the ball) on the right side of the hole most of the time," Skinner said. "I just putted better today. I saw the line and committed to it better."
Also in Skinner's fast-moving group was third-place finisher Russ Davis of Acworth, who equaled Skinner's score of 32 on the front nine and went on to shoot a 68 (139 for the tournament).
Marietta's Mel Mendenhall was the clubhouse leader with four groups left to finish with a score of 69, 143 for the tournament. He finished tied for fifth and best among amateurs in the tournament.
"I played very well," Mendenhall said. "I struck the ball extremely well. The main thing is I didn't make any putts yesterday. I did make three of four key putts today."
Duluth's Jason Smith, representing the host course, finished tied for eighth, best among Gwinnett residents, with a score of 70, 144 for the tournament.