Standing just off the back of the 18th green at the Missoula Country Club, Eli Rogers had little standing between him and his first Don Barnett Memorial trophy. With a five-shot lead in his back pocket, all Rogers had to do was roll his ball close and two-putt for par.
But why not close it out in style?
With a sizable gallery lining the right side of the green, Rogers drained his chip for an eagle to close out a 5-under-par 66 that erased a three-shot deficit and clinched the Hamilton native his first title.
"Sometimes you got to get lucky too -- just like that chip," said Rogers, who finished at 204, 9 under par for the 54-hole tournament. "That's not all skill as much as I like to say. There is a lot of luck."
Whether or not Rogers was relying on luck or talent is up for debate and there were plenty of moments for the dispute to carry on, from his 60-foot putt on No. 3, to the ball that hung on a hill on the back of 17th green, to his final chip. But the outcome was decided well before Rogers' eagle tracked in.
Rogers began the day three shots behind leader Ryan Porch, but the distance quickly evaporated. By the time the lead group made the turn, Rogers was in possession of a one-shot lead and when it walked off the No. 10 green the lead had grown to three.
Porch, a Kalispell native who finished second at the 2016 Big Sky Conference tournament as a member of the Idaho Vandals, held the 36-hole lead after firing rounds of 66 and 69. But he found trouble soon after his round began.
He bogeyed three of his first six holes as he scrambled around the course and watched his once healthy lead disappear. He got back to even with Rogers with an eagle on the 366-yard eighth, but a par coupled with Rogers' birdie on nine tilted the advantage back toward the Hamilton golfer.
"I was just never feeling comfortable," said Porch, who finished second at the Memorial last year. "Every time something got going another problem came."
Rogers, a senior at Utah State, entered the day knowing he was going to have to go low if he was going to catch Porch. He figured with a three-shot deficit and Porch's previous play he would need to shoot 66 to have a chance.
He got off to a hot start.
After back-to-back pars, Rogers left his approach on the front of the green well short of the hole. Rogers' read was perfect: the ball rolled 60 feet, swept almost 6 feet from right to left and dropped into the cup for his first birdie of the day.
On No. 4, Rogers stuck his approach to within 4 feet and then made the birdie putt. And on the 552-yard par-5 fifth, Rogers dropped his second shot on the back of the green, then chipped to within 3 feet and made the putt for his third straight birdie.
It all came back to the putt on three.
"It just gives you confidence," Rogers said. "I didn't feel like I was hitting it that well; even the last two days I didn't feel like my ball striking was where I thought it would need to be in order to win. Then today I don't know if it was that much better, a couple wedges I got close, but other than that I got that big putt and this chip and that's a huge thing."
After back-to-back birdies on nine and 10, he strung together six straight pars and then offset a bogey at 17 with the eagle on the final hole.
"It was just trying to put myself in position to make the birdies," Rogers said. "If I make them great, and if I don't, that's how golf goes."
Loyola Sacred Heart graduate Sadie Crippen ran away with the women's title, shooting a final-round 74 to win by 12 strokes over sister Maggie.