Standing nearby was Jeremy McGatha with a chance to chip in to force a playoff in the Pine Hill Invitational on Sunday, and all Ellison said he could think of was the way his longtime Sunny King Charity Classic partner and Best of the Best Series leader snatched victory from him in a similar situation at Indian Oaks Golf Club earlier in the season.
It was only after McGatha putted through the fringe and left his ball short of the hole that Ellison could breathe easy, claiming the championship by one stroke over his friend.
"I was prepared for a playoff because he's a good player, he has enough experience to know what he had to do and you never count him out," Ellison said. "I expected him to make it. In my mind, before he putted, I was preparing myself for a playoff, because of what happened to me at Indian Oaks."
It never went to extra holes. Ellison shot a final round 3-under-par 69 and finished at 139. McGatha shot 71 and finished at 140. Matt Rogers (74), defending champion Ott Chandler (73) and Chris Hubbard (73) all finished at 143.
For Ellison, it was his second victory in the Best of the Best Series and first since winning the season-ending Anniston Country Club Invitational in 2007. For McGatha, the series points leader, it was his third runner-up finish in six series events this season (sixth all-time) to go with two wins.
McGatha takes a 112.5-point lead into the double-point County Championship in two weeks at Cane Creek, his home course. The points were adjusted after Sunday's event to reflect each of the competitors' top four series finishes going into the final event.
Earlier this year in the Best of the Best event at Indian Oaks, McGatha ran in a winning 40-foot birdie putt from off the fringe on the final hole, with Ellison standing over a six-footer for birdie that, figuring on a McGatha two-putt, would have forced a playoff.
Ellison came to 18 Sunday with a two-shot lead and played the hole safely. His third shot from 135 yards settled onto the fringe about 25 feet below the hole. He opted to chip and left himself a tap-in for par.
McGatha missed a great chance to cut into the lead on the par-5 15th after Ellison fought to save par there, but did get within one with a birdie at 17.
Conditions prevented 18 from being an eagle hole, but McGatha said he knew a birdie could be enough. He was forced to lay up after blocking his drive, and his third shot spun back into the fringe in about the same spot as Ellison's moments earlier. McGatha chose to putt from there, but the ball stopped short of the hole.
"I chipped it in the practice round and it would bounce," McGatha said. "I thought if I could get it rolling quicker, the better. I had it on-line, I just didn't hit it hard enough.
"I was thinking same putt at Indian Oaks, not quite as long, but trust me, I was wanting to do it again. Even though he's my partner, I was wanting to make it and get in a playoff. I want to win as bad as he wants to win. He knows it and I know it, but congrats to him."
At one point in the middle of the round, four players were tied for the lead at 3-under, but the key stretch of holes on the day was 8 through 12. They were played right after a heavy rain temporarily halted play and affected all of the contenders' cards.
Ellison went through them with three birdies. McGatha and Chandler each had a bogey and four pars. Hubbard had bogeys on each end to bookend three consecutive birdies. And Turley, the first round leader, he had trouble off the tee starting the back nine and bogeyed two of the holes to fall out of contention.
"That was an important stretch of the round (Sunday)," Ellison said. "I knew it was real right and I just wanted to keep playing my game and try to capitalize on good shots."
The bogey at No. 8 and the missed chance at 15 were particularly annoying to McGatha.
"Fifteen definitely cost me the golf tournament," he said. "I did not take advantage. I take advantage there, it could be a different outcome."