There has been plenty of excitement in the 32-year history of the Albertsons Boise Open, but Sunday’s finish might have set a new standard for high drama at Hillcrest Country Club.
English golfer Aaron Rai seemingly had the tournament in his grasp as he stood on the 18th tee. The leaderboard showed Rai at 20-under and his playing partner, Greyson Sigg, at 19-under.
But Rai’s tricky chip shot from behind the 18th green slowly rolled by the hole — and with the fans in the bleachers gasping — continued to make its way all the way to the fringe at the front of the green. Rai settled for a double bogey, and Sigg’s par earned him the $180,000 winner’s check.
“Nobody wants to win a golf tournament that way, to be honest,” said Sigg, a University of Georgia product who grew up in one of golf’s most famous cities, Augusta, Ga., the home of The Masters. “I was ready for more golf, but luckily I didn’t have to do that.”
After the loss, Rai chose to focus on the positives. After all, he locked up his PGA Tour card for next season while making his debut on the Korn Ferry Tour. He tied for second with J.J. Spaun.
Rai tied for 19th in The Open Championship and posted two top-26 finishes in World Golf Championships events this season. He has two career wins on the European Tour.
“It was an awesome week overall,” Rai said. “I played four good rounds.”
Still, he admitted his chip on the 18th green was painful to watch.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out,” Rai said. “But it came out hot and just kept going.”
As for Sigg, he had planned to take a break after the Boise Open, but the win catapulted him to No. 1 in the points standings. So, his focus will turn to another goal: earning fully exempt status on the PGA Tour next season and an exemption into The Players Championship by earning the top spot in the season-long points standings.
Sigg also won the Visit Knoxville Open in May. He has two top-15 finishes in PGA Tour events this year, too.
“I was going to go home and see my family and my dog,” Sigg said. “But I think I’m going to have to change my flight and go to Columbus now.”
That tournament in Ohio will be the second stop of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, followed the next week by the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. The Boise Open was the first tournament of the Finals, a three-event series that will determine a second set of 25 PGA Tour cards given out for next season. The first set of 25 cards was given to the top 25 point earners through the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season.
“There’s a lot going on,” Siggs said. “I have a busy two weeks ahead of me.”
After Sunday’s round, Sigg said he knows he’ll need to keep his focus until the final putt drops two weeks from now.
“You’ve got to grind it out until the end,” the 26-year-old said. “You can’t really focus on what the other guy is doing. Just focus on yourself, make birdies and get the ball in the hole as fast as possible.”
That’s exactly what Sigg did Sunday as he and Rai traded shot after shot.
Sigg shot a 6-under 65 and Rai a 4-under 67 in the final round while the third-round leaders faded. Overnight leader Scott Gutschewski struggled with a 2-over 73, as did fellow contender Ben Taylor. Kiradech Aphibarnrat shot 74.
“I saw the leaderboard on No. 12 and kind of realized it was going to be Aaron and I down the stretch,” Sigg said. “From then on, It was just kind of like match play. He hit a lot of really good shots and we were feeding off each other all day.
“We were going back and forth. If you like golf, it had to be a pretty fun thing to watch on TV this afternoon.”
NOTES: This week’s tournament raised $2.9 million for charities, a Korn Ferry Tour record. … Defending Boise Open champion Stephan Jaeger had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole. He had never carded an ace in a Korn Ferry Tour or PGA Tour event. Jaeger tied for fourth. … Sigg’s 65 on Sunday tied Vincent Whaley for the low round of the day.