James Allenby

Canadian golfer James Allenby chips from a bunker on hole No. 10 during the GolfBC Championship at Gallagher's Canyon in Kelowna on June 14, 2019.

After he birdied his fourth hole in six tries Sunday at the GolfBC Championship, Jake Knapp turned his sights to a nearby leaderboard, expecting to find comfort with his name at the top of it.

Except it wasn’t. It wasn’t anywhere close.

But Knapp held steady, and—despite a record 59 from Greyson Sigg and a 7-under 64 by his best friend Jonathan Garrick—eventually held on to win by one stroke at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club with a final-round 63 on Sunday. It was his second victory of the year after he won the season-opening Canada Life Open, the first player to win both events since Dan McCarthy did it in his record-setting four-win campaign of 2016.

“I couldn’t believe when I saw the leaderboard and my name wasn’t on top,” he said. “To shoot 4-under on the front you don’t really think you’re not going to be in first. I saw the score and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”

Knapp finished at 20-under 264, one clear of Garrick, his longtime roommate and teammate at UCLA. But it didn’t come without plenty of drama, as Sigg surged into the lead with a morning 59, the second such score in Mackenzie Tour–PGA Tour Canada history and first in five years.

Sigg, who began his round nine shots off the lead, started the day with a front-nine 31 but began to realize something incredible was brewing shortly thereafter. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 13th, then followed it up with a 30-foot birdie on the par-4 14th.

After a par on No. 15, the University of Georgia product birdied each of his last three holes, including a 7-foot up-and-down putt from over a ridge at 18.

“I shot 61 a couple times back home with some buddies, but definitely nowhere close to this in a tournament round,” said Sigg, who eventually finished third. “I came from behind with nothing to lose and got it going. I kept it going, knew I had a chance. I saw the leaderboard on 17 and knew I’d try to birdie 18. Ended up doing it.”

The 59 temporarily gave Sigg the lead at 17-under 267, but Knapp wasted little time in reclaiming the advantage with an eagle at No. 9. But there was still little time to rest, as Garrick poured in four consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 through 15 to pull within a shot.

“My goal for the day was that if I could get a lead going into the back nine and force guys to make birdies that puts them in a tough spot, because I know there’s not a lot of birdie holes out there,” Knapp said. “Jonathan put the pressure on those last four holes and played great. I knew I needed to be keep it going, keep it above 17-under, at least.”

It took until the 17th to finally end it, as Knapp pulled two shots ahead with a 15-foot birdie putt. That proved insurmountable for Garrick, who parred the hole, though a birdie at the last pulled him into second alone at 19-under.

“It’s just ironic. I talked to my coach last night, and he said if I did all that stuff I was supposed to and someone goes out and still beats me, all you can do is shake (his) hand,” Garrick said. “That’s exactly what happened.”

Knapp claims $36,000 for the victory in the $200,000 tournament. He now leads the Mackenzie Tour money list with $72,000.

The low Canadian last weekend was Riley Wheeldon, who finished T22 at 9-under 275. Canadian amateur Chris Crisologo finished T42, Kelowna’s John Mlikotic finished T55 and won $645, and Jared du Toit finished T63.

The finish capped a Sunday that also saw GolfBC Group sign a “multi-year” extension for title sponsorship of the championship.

The GolfBC Championship, in collaboration with the Chan Family Foundation, has generated more than $600,000 to charitable efforts since the tournament’s inception in 2016.

This year, $100,000 was donated to the BC Cancer Foundation, a portion of which was used to purchase a PET Scanner for the Okanagan Valley and will be housed at the B.C. cancer centre in Kelowna.

An additional $50,000 was awarded to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, which was selected from among 160 local nominations.

Supplied by the Mackenzie Tour. This story appeared in print on page B1 of The Daily Courier's June 18 edition.

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