Provo • Nathan Lashley dropped his wedge in a mixture of disgust and disbelief after his chip shot from the rough near the 18th green spun out of the hole, with the ball stopping a foot away.
So much for the winner's celebration Sunday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club.
Lashley's miss and subsequent tap-in for a par concluded the Arizona pro's wild back-nine duel with former BYU golfer Jordan Rodgers, who was trying to become the first golfer in 81 years to win both the State Amateur and the Utah Open in the same summer. Having lost a playoff at Riverside last August, the 32-year-old Lashley came from two strokes down with four holes to play, making consecutive birdie putts totaling 80 feet on Nos. 16 and 17.
That dramatic sequence came after Rodgers "kind of had it in the bag," by his account. The Skyline High School graduate was trying to win on BYU's home course in front of relatives and friends, including Cougar coach Bruce Brockbank and former BYU stars Mike Weir and Dean Wilson. Fans wishing for another Utahn's victory may have used all of their good vibes the past two years, when Farmington's Zach Johnson and Cottonwood Heights' B.J. Staten rallied in the end.
Lashley shot a back-nine 31 with three lip-outs, offset by those two daggers that ruined Rodgers' history-making quest. In the end, Lashley's 8-under-par 64 overcame Rodgers' closing 67. Lashley's three-day total of 22 under earned him $21,000 for a two-stroke victory and Rodgers collected $15,000.
"The back nine was just crazy, birdie after birdie, and I was just hoping to have a chance on the last hole," Lashley said.
No. 18 actually was anticlimactic, after what happened on the previous three holes. Lashley birdied No. 15 to get within one stroke, then chipped poorly after a big drive on the par-4 No. 16 and faced a 45-foot birdie attempt. Rodgers was much closer, and his father/caddie, Craig, liked his chances of regaining a two-stroke advantage. "He jinxed it," Rodgers said later, good-naturedly.
That's because Lashley drilled his fast-moving putt and Rodgers missed, leaving them tied. Pretty much the same story unfolded on the par-3 No. 17, where Lashley made a big-breaking 35-footer and Rodgers missed from just inside of him.
Just like that, Lashley was ahead, and Rodgers ended up three-putting the 18th hole for a bogey after missing a desperate attempt from 45 feet for a tie. So a 20-under total was not good enough for Rodgers, who made some phenomenal shots to start the back nine — including a wedge to within a foot at No. 10, a 6-iron to 3 feet at No. 11 and a 7-iron that he hooked out of the rough and over some trees from 235 yards on the par-5 No. 13, leading to another birdie.
"He was hitting fairways and greens and I was kind of all over the place, grinding my tail off all day," Rodgers said.
Citing his three-round score, Rodgers said, "Can't be too mad about that … but I can be mad about it because I didn't win."
Lashley, the 2009 Utah Open winner, will resume the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica schedule next month, hoping to move from No. 8 into the top five on the money list and earn Web.com Tour membership for 2016. That's also the goal of Rodgers, who faces a longer, more traditional route. He'll enter the pre-qualifying stage of the Web.com Tour process in California in two weeks.