FARMINGTON — Jimmie Gunn knew that if he could get a few putts to drop, he'd pick up his first San Juan Open title.
Gunn did just that, firing a final round of 6-under 65 to win the tournament and claim the $17,500 first-place check.
The 32-year-old Gunn won the event with a four-round total of 16-under 268 to defeat Jesse Mueller by a shot at San Juan Country Club on Sunday.
Gunn gave a lot of the credit for his good putting to his caddie -- 2013 Piedra Vista graduate Jackson Gurley.
"I finally started making some putts. I had Jackson Gurley on the bag with me today and he can read putts really good," Gunn said. "He's from here, so I just hit them where he told me and they went in. These greens are very tricky. I was reading them pretty good and he was backing me up. If I was off then he was right on."
Gunn, a native of Scotland who now resides in Mesa, Ariz., entered the final round trailing Mueller by three shots, but overtook the 54-hole leader with a pair of birdies on the second and third holes coupled with a bogey on the first hole by Mueller.
Bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes by Gunn put Muller back on top, but Gunn's putter heated up on the back nine.
"I made a snake on No. 10. It was incredible," he said. "It would have been hard to two putt, but I made that one."
Gunn then birdied No. 13, No. 14, No. 15 and No. 16 to get to 16-under.
Fellow competitor Riley Arp was playing in the final pairing with Mueller, but noticed Gunn's birdie barrage and knew the putts were finally falling.
"I played with him yesterday, and I was telling a couple of guys to look out for Jimmie," said Arp, who finished in third place at 14-under. "I was fully aware of what he could do, because he's been hitting it so well. Yesterday, he just couldn't make anything and just couldn't get (putts) to start on line. I saw his score on No. 7 and he 1-under (for the round), then I didn't see it again until No. 16 and he was at 16-under. I thought 'oh man, he's making some putts.'"
Gunn parred the final to holes to post 16-under, meanwhile Mueller went on a birdie run of his own, playing holes No. 15 through No. 17 at 4-under to get to 15-under for the tournament.
Mueller needed one more birdie on the par-3 18th hole to force a playoff with Gunn and he put himself in position to tie with a solid iron shot that landed about 25-feet to the left of the pin.
Mueller struck the putt well, but it came up about a foot short of the hole, clinching the title for Gunn.
"It broke about a foot and a half to the right," Mueller said. "I had a perfect line, but misjudged the speed and left it a little short. I thought it would roll out a little more, and half way there, I thought it had a good chance of going in, but it just came up short."
Mueller tapped in for par to finish off a final round 69.
This was the second straight year Mueller finished runner-up in the event, finishing one shot back in 2012 also.
Entering the round with a one-shot lead over Arp, Mueller thought it would be different this year, but he surrendered too many strokes early in the round that ultimately ended up costing him the title.
"I just got off to a shaky start today with a bogey at No. 1 and a double on No. 5," he said.
Arp entered the final round ahead of Gunn by two shot and one behind Mueller.
The Fort Collins, Colo., native had a plan to win the title, but just wasn't able to execute it and finished two shots back of Gunn.
"I told myself coming into the day to birdie the par 5s and play the rest of the golf course at even par, and I'd have a chance," he said. "Had I done that, I'd have been just fine."
Arp was playing the event for the first time, and said he enjoyed the experience throughout the week.
"I loved the people and the golf course," he said. "It's a place you want to come back to. You get the support from all the people around. They love the tournament, and they love putting it on. It was a blast."
Gunn, who was playing in the event for the sixth time, agreed with Arp and said the support from everyone at the tournament is what keeps him coming back.
"I love this tournament," said the 2013 champion. "I got a lot of friends here. They put on a great tournament. They take really good care of us here."
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.