Zac Blair knocked in a short par putt, dropped to the grass to get something out of his golf bag and made what apparently turned into a big mistake in his final home meet.
The search for the lucky quarter — or whatever you want to call it — included at one point about a dozen BYU teammates and bystanders on their hands and knees combing their hands through the lush grass to look for a uniquely colored coin that the Cougars’ best player didn't shed a whole lot of light on Saturday except to say he just didn't want to lose it.
Well, he wouldn't lose his final chance to win on his home course either. Blair rallied in the final holes to produce a second consecutive card of 68 after a 6-under par 66 to start the tournament Friday morning. That held off freshman teammate Joe Parkinson and an Air Force player at Riverside Country Club.
"It's been a privilege to have him on our team," longtime BYU coach Bruce Brockbank said, slightly emotional because Blair's arrival has spurred a significant uptick in competitive level across the team.
It was Blair's influence that put Parkinson in position to play, and he nearly became the fourth Cougar to win a tournament this spring — heady numbers by recent historical standards, as Brockbank would attest.
Justin Keiley, a junior who won a tournament this year, credits a lot of his development the past two years to getting to know Blair's game — how to play it, and what should make him tick.
Blair salvaged No. 18 and the victory after he went into the bunker, Brockbank raving at the level-headed play of his star pupil. If he’s not knocking it clean and close, he’s able to recover with aplomb.
Blair happens to be one of the best players the state has produced, the son of a quirky former Cougar all-American who still competes at a fever pitch himself — so much that he missed his son's last Provo match to participate in an Arizona tournament.
Blair said his final 18 holes "wasn't anything special" until the back nine on a day he finished with five birdies and a bogey. Four of those birdies came in the final nine holes.
His best moment of the three rounds came at No. 17, a tee shot on the par-3 to less than a couple feet that put him in position to win. He started the day a stroke ahead of his closest competitors.
All three in contention — Blair, Parkinson and Air Force's Kyle Westmoreland — shot 68 in the final day. Parkinson had a couple great chances to win late, but had to settle for very short par putts.
BYU shot 32-under par, 15 strokes better than Air Force and 25 ahead of Saint Mary's, which won the West Coast Conference championship recently.
"It's sad that it's my last time," Blair said of the Ping Golf Cougar Classic, which he won twice. "But I had a great time at all of them. It's nice to finally see our team move forward and get better. We had a great spring, and it was cool to be a part of it."
Blair had quite the semester, winning twice along with a runner-up finish, a third and a fourth.
As for that coin: there were even some folks, including BYU legend Johnny Miller — who was there watching the team, and enjoying the company of his son, Todd, a coach — hunting around for a metal detector to continue the search just past the 18th green.