When Brian Beach first caddied for a golfer in the Montana Open in 2004, he thought to himself, "Man, it would be cool to win that one day."
On Sunday, that dream came true.
The Missoula native overcame a two-stroke deficit with two holes to play to win the 2015 Montana Open at Larchmont Golf Course. He shot a 1-under 71 to seal the win.
“I don’t really have words to describe it,” said the Big Sky grad. “I play bigger events, but this is by far the most important to me, and to win it just is amazing.”
As an amateur, Beach can’t accept any of the prize money. But he said beating professionals in his hometown is more than enough.
“I’ve been trying to beat these guys for the last three or four years, so this is pretty special,” he said.
Beach began the day tied with Chris Dompier for first after shooting an exceptional score of 63 on Saturday to move to 133 for the tournament, 11 strokes under par. By the 11th hole, Dompier had taken a three-stroke lead after Beach bogeyed the seventh.
The comeback started on the par-5 12th. Beach drove his ball into the rough on the left but hit a towering shot to the edge of the green. He nearly chipped in but the ball rolled just to the left of the hole and he settled for a birdie, moving to 11-under.
Things stayed stable through the next few holes, until Beach and Jim Mee, who was also at 11-under par, made birdies on 16 to move to 12-under, just a stroke off Dompier’s lead.
It was then the wind started picking up. A constant all day, it became downright blustery on the final few holes, wreaking havoc on the players' shots. At one point, Dompier picked up a few blades of grass to test its direction and when he let go, the blades landed almost 10 feet behind him.
“The wind was pretty tough to deal with,” Mee said after the round. “I couldn’t get a feel for it all day, but that’s just how it goes. We all had to deal with it.”
On hole 17, Beach nearly tied things up. He left his tee shot on the par-3 a few yards short of the green, and again came within inches of holing out -- his chip from about 30 feet away lipped out of the cup.
That made it a 1-stroke game with one hole to play.
A poor tee shot by Dompier made things interesting immediately. His shot sailed way left, leaving him with a tough lie practically on the driving range, with a bank of trees between him and the hole.
That’s when things got even worse for the Arizona native.
His shot landed off the green on 18 and rolled into the water hazard, giving the rest of the field a chance.
Mee and Beach both hit approach shots that left lengthy putts, and after Dompier’s drop, any of the three had a chance to win or force a playoff, depending on who made their putts.
Dompier, who had lead the entire day, seemed rattled. He barely lined up his chip shot after spending what seemed like hours on all his other shots, and left his putt short.
Mee, on the other hand, just missed, his ball rolling inches to the right of the cup.
“I didn’t putt well the entire three days,” Mee said. “The greens were challenging, they seemed bouncy, and I just didn’t have it.”
That left it up to Beach. If he missed, a three-way playoff would ensue.
He didn’t. His putt rolled into the heart of the cup from about 15 feet away, and the small gallery, mostly of Beach’s friends, erupted.
“It was such a battle all day, it was so much fun,” Beach said. “I knew I had one shot to win, and I was already lucky from a few mistakes by my competitors. I tried to clear my mind, and once I hit it, I knew it was going to be good.”