By Brad Ziemer
Jake Knapp was strolling confidently up the ninth fairway at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club and couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. The Costa Mesa, Calif., native spotted a leaderboard and his name was not on top.
“I saw the board and I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Knapp said.
Here he was, four-under for his round at the time, and he still didn’t have the lead. So Knapp pressed even harder on the gas pedal. He eagled that par 5 ninth hole to grab the lead and never surrendered it en route to winning the GolfBC Championship by a single shot.
The win completed a B.C. double of sorts for the former UCLA Bruin. He won the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour season-opener in Vancouver in late May.
“Two out of three ain’t bad,” Knapp said as he walked into the scoring area to sign his card.
Knapp closed with an eight-under 63 to finish at 20-under par. His former UCLA roommate Jonathan Garrick of Atherton, Calif., finished second.
It was a crazy final day. The reason Knapp didn’t have the lead earlier was due to what Greyson Sigg was doing ahead of him on the golf course. Sigg, a native of Augusta, Ga., shot a 12-under 59 — just the second 59 in Mackenzie Tour history — to finish the tournament at 17-under par.
Before the round, Knapp figured he would have to go low to have a chance to win.
“Judging where the pins were the first three days, I knew there were going to be some more gettable pins today,” he said. “I knew it was going to take 19 or 20 (under) pretty much just because I figured the pins were going to be in places where you could hit it a little bit closer. So it feels really nice to be able to win two of them.”
Knapp’s biggest birdie came on the par 4 17th hole, where he rolled in a 15-footer to move two shots up on Garrick.
“That was huge,” Knapp said. “Having a one-shot lead versus a two-shot lead going into 18 makes a world of difference. I don’t think he probably would have hit driver (on 18) if I was only one-up.”
After hitting that driver on 18, Garrick did birdie 18 to close the gap to a single shot. He fired a seven-under 64 Sunday.
“It’s just ironic,” Garrick said. “I talked to my coach last night. We had a good game plan for today. He said if I did all that stuff and someone goes out and still beats me, all you can do is shake his hand. That’s exactly what happened.
“Like I’ve been saying, I’ve finished top-five a bunch, but haven’t won. Second is the same thing as finishing 15th to me. I was just trying to win.”
First-round leader Lorens Chan of Hawaii, who played on the same UCLA team as Knapp and Garrick, finished alone in fourth place at 16-under after shooting 68 Sunday.
By winning twice in B.C., Knapp has repeated the feat accomplished by Dan McCarthy in 2016. McCarthy also won in Vancouver and Kelowna and then went on to win twice more later that year. Knapp intends to try and follow suit.
“I want to try and win every single week,” said Knapp who now leads the Order of Merit with $72,000. Realistically, you are probably not going to, but I am going to give myself a chance.”
Knapp gave a shout-out to his dad, Bob, on Father’s Day.
“It means lot,” Knapp said of winning on Father’s Day. “Happy Father’s Day, dad. Love you. Wish you could be here. Both my parents mean the world to me.”
GolfBC had some big news following the trophy presentation, announcing a multi-year extension to their title sponsorship of the event.
“We are excited to extend GolfBC’s commitment to host such a prestigious event in the Okanagan,” said Andy Hedley, Vice President of Golf Operations for GolfBC Group.“Philanthropy is a large focus for our companies, and we are proud that with the support of GolfBC’s charitable arm, the Chan Family Foundation, the GolfBC Championship has grown to be one of the most charitable events on the Mackenzie Tour,” added Hedley.
In its first four years, the GolfBC Championship has raised $600,000 for Okanagan charities.