Trick-shot artist, Thai pioneer make Boise Open debuts

Albertsons Boise Open Idaho Statesman Junior Clinic tour professionals led a junior golf clinic at Hillcrest Country Club sponsored by the Idaho Statesman.
Up Next tour professionals led a junior golf clinic at Hillcrest Country Club sponsored by the Idaho Statesman.

Wesley Bryan was so “broke and bored” playing on golf’s mini-tours that he and his brother made a business out of hitting trick shots.

The Bryan Brothers videos at include a shot from the roof of the football stadium at South Carolina to a target at midfield and a series of shots involving superstar Rory McIlroy. Tour pro Adam Long demonstrates how deep the rough is at Hillcrest Country Club and what it takes to escape.

“I had to find something to do to make a little bit of money,” Bryan said this week at Hillcrest Country Club.

He doesn’t have that problem anymore.

Bryan earned his Tour card for this season. It was his fourth attempt, and the first time he had advanced to the final stage of the Tour Qualifying Tournament.

Then he won three times on the Tour to earn an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour, where he contended on the weekend in his next event.

He enters the Albertsons Boise Open as the Tour’s leading money-winner. Since PGA Tour playing privileges for Tour graduates are based on their final standing on the money list, Bryan is back for the Tour Finals to try to pad his total. Tour pro Austin Cook hits a bunker shot while wearing a GoPro. Plus, check out his swing from unique angles.


“I’ve got no idea (what happened),” Bryan said of his sudden rise. “I always felt like I was good enough. I just never had an opportunity to play in any of these events.”

His first season as a PGA Tour member begins in four weeks at the Safeway Open in California. He’s trying his best not to think about that.

“I’ve done a good job all year staying in the present,” he said. “After I got the second win, it was hard fighting that off, thinking every week when you teed it up, ‘Hey, if I win this week I’m going to the PGA Tour next week.’”

He has kept the trick shots on the back burner. His brother, George, caddied for him for a while but is getting ready for his own run at qualifying for the Tour this fall.

“Every once in a while if the right opportunity arises we’ll do some stuff,” Wesley Bryan said, “but my main focus is playing golf.”

A first for Thailand?

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, whose name is familiar to golf fans who watch the majors and European Tour events, came to Boise this week to pursue his goal to become the first Thailand golfer to earn a PGA Tour card.

Aphibarnrat is ranked 64th in the world. This is his first attempt at the Tour Finals, the only pathway to the PGA Tour.

If he doesn’t succeed, he plans to return to Europe.

“I have played a lot of majors, a lot of events in the States,” he said. “I love the tour. I love to play the rounds, and the golf fans are fantastic. I believe if I can get my card from here it will make my golf career more exciting.”

Aphibarnrat has won three times on the European Tour. He gets into many of the world’s biggest events because of his world ranking.

This season, he tied for sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, tied for 15th at the Masters, tied for fifth in the Olympics and made the cut at the PGA Championship.

The 27-year-old said he has been more comfortable playing in Europe, which is a little closer to home. He could have played in the Tour Finals the past two seasons, he said, but declined.

Now, he feels the time is right.

“I believe I have enough experience to come over and try in the States,” he said.

He began playing at 8 years old, inspired by Tiger Woods.

“Golf in Asia at that time was really popular,” Aphibarnrat said. “I started golf because of (Woods) and all my goals are because of him.”

On the way to 30

When Albertsons announced the tournament’s move to the Tour Finals last year, the company pledged to support the event through 2019 — which would be the 30th year. The Boise Open is scheduled to stay in the Tour Finals series through that year, too.