Opener is over early

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Adam McKenney plans to play a fairly full Regions Cup schedule this season in an effort to stay sharp for the fall, when he'll turn pro.

The 22-year-old Evans resident didn't find much competition in the season-opener at Mount Vintage Plantation, where he ran away from the field in the Sunbelt Nissan Golf Capital Invitational.

McKenney closed with even-par 72 on Sunday to finish at 3-under 141, which gave him an eight-shot victory over Lance Johnson (74 on Sunday).

McKenney has used up his golf eligibility at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, but he will return in the fall to complete his business management degree. He'll also turn pro, after playing as many amateur events as he can this summer.

He said he was shocked that he led by six shots after Saturday's first round. But he wasn't going to play conservatively in the final round.

"I just wanted to keep going lower," McKenney said. "If I try to play safe, I know I'll end up hurting myself. It worked out great on the front nine."

After playing his first seven holes in 3-under Sunday, McKenney had built a huge lead over Johnson, one of his playing partners.

At that point, he started to play the course, not an opponent.

"I knew this was a tough course; they had an LPGA event here. I wanted to shoot something very respectable to gain confidence to go into the summer," he said.

After a four-birdie, one-bogey round Saturday, McKenney had a more inconsistent day Sunday, with five birdies, two double bogeys and a bogey.

He closed out his round with an unlikely birdie on his 18th hole (the ninth hole on the original 18).

After a great drive with a 3-wood, McKenney missed his second shot on the par-5 so badly that it skipped across the water.

"I was so shocked at how bad I hit it, I thought it was kind of funny," McKenney said.

He still had 100 yards to the pin for his third shot. He knocked it eight feet from the hole, then made a hard-breaking putt for birdie.

McKenney has won his past two Regions Cup starts, but they are separated by more than eight months. After winning the event at Gordon Lakes in July, he didn't play again until the Golf Capital.

Senior division winner Kenny Larry kept a more current winning streak alive. Larry, who shot 77-71 to beat Greg Scurlock (77-75) by four shots, won the final senior event of the 2008 season, at Jones Creek.

Larry, 54, wasn't going to play in the Golf Capital because he didn't want to leave his wife on back-to-back weekends.

When next weekend's City of Augusta Match Play event was postponed to June 12-14, he was suddenly free this weekend. He signed up Thursday night.

"Everything had to work out perfect for me to play," Larry said. "It's really funny."

Larry took advantage of the opportunity, making up for a poor showing last year at Mount Vintage. There, he shot 79-81 and tied for 16th place, earning just five Regions Cup points. He had to finish strong at the end of the year (a runner-up finish and a win in the final two events) to overtake Glen Hurt and win the senior player of the year award for the second consecutive year.

"I was down from the start," Larry said. "This is a better start."

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-081 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

Sunbelt Nissan Golf Capital Invitational


Yardage: 7,150 yards; Par: 72


Adam McKenney 69-72-141 -3

Lance Johnson 75-74-149 5

Taylor Floyd 75-75-150 6

Carter Newman 78-72-150 6

Brad Eskierka 82-72-154 10

Jamie Felder 78-78-156 12

Wayne McKenney 78-78-156 12

Jeff Pope 78-78-156 12

Chris Waters 77-79-156 12

Doug Weiss 81-76-157 13

158-Gavin Donaghy (81-77).

159-Ron Schroder (78-81), Christopher Smith (81-79).

160-Chet Dye (83-77).

161-Rhett Baker (83-78), Chad Blackston (82-79).

163-Young Kim (79-84), Todd Mercer (79-84).

164-Trey Keepers (75-89), Michael Phelps (80-84), Wade McDonald (84-80).

165-Yong Lee (83-82).

166-Chase Epting (85-81).

168-Will Fulcher (87-81), Paul Mangieri (87-81), Ryan McCook (83-85), Matt Wilson (83-85).

169-David Hogan (85-84).

171-Brian Bragg (85-86), Phil Nunnery (79-92).

172-Robert Clark (83-89).

173-Willie Williams (84-89), Jason Beck (84-89).

175-Keith Downs (93-82).

182-Heath Taylor (91-91)

Senior Division


Yardage: 6,400 yards; Par: 72

Kenny Larry 77-71-148 4

Greg Scurlock 77-75-152 8

John Nikander 76-77-153 9

Glen Hurt 81-73-154 10

Mike Jackson 82-73-155 11

George Bullard 79-76-155 11

Chuck Withers 78-77-155 11

Mike Kelley 77-78-155 11

Michael Benham 76-80-156 12

Danny Daniels 82-74-156 12

157-Frank Perry (81-76).

158-Bob Varn (80-78), Jim Brisson (76-82).

159-Charlie Busbee (91-78), Bob Rickman (78-81).

161-Marcus Lowe (82-79), Russell Gilliam (80-81), Lad Wright (85-76), Steve Dye (79-82).

165-Richard Felder (86-79), Lance Jones (85-80).

166-Andy Edmonds (80-86), Al Farlow (79-82).

167-Bobby Gause (82-85).

168-Mike Metz (86-82), David Clark (79-89).

169-Scott Schwarz (89-80).

170-Bob Abernathy (88-82).

171-David Jones (90-81), Jim Wallace (86-85).

172-David McElrath (87-85), Olin Logan (84-88).

173-Andrew Pride (86-87).

174-Ken Moody (84-90), Paul King (87-87), Philip McLain (84-90).

175-Mark Givens (87-88).

176-Pete Shumway (89-87).

177-Ashley Rose (91-86).

179-James Kile (83-96).

183-Carl Pilcher (92-91).

184-Doug Hathaway (96-88).

WD-Billy Rangos (79).


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