Friday, July 18, 2014

Officials at Hillcrest Country Club tried to increase the degree of difficulty for the Albertsons Boise Open after the field made mince meat of the course last year. For example, the rough is almost twice as long as it was in 2013. It didn't matter, as Zach Sucher turned in the lowest opening round score in tournament history yesterday—and equaled the best first-round mark in Tour history, firing an 11-under 60. Faster greens? Sucher one-putted his first 10 holes and fell just one stroke short of Russell Knox's Boise Open-record 59 last year. The sixth-year pro out of Alabama-Birmingham leads by two shots over Steve Alker. Of the previous six players to shoot 60 in the first round of events, only Chris Nallen went on to win that week—that was back in 2004. Sucher, a sixth-year pro, has never won on the Tour.

Among the locals at the Albertsons Boise Open, Nampa's Tyler Aldridge is in the best position to make the cut today. The former Boise State golfer shot a three-under 68 yesterday, which sounds just fine. But a staggering 24 other players did the same thing, including defending champion Kevin Tway and Tour money leader Carlos Ortiz. Boise's Justin Snelling carded a one-under 60, and longtime Boise club pro Jim Empey shot a five-over 76. Other notables include 2010 Albertsons Boise Open champ Hunter Haas and Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, both at five-under, and 2009 champion Fran Quinn and 2002 winner Jason Gore at four-under.

It was a steady start at the British Open yesterday for Graham DeLaet. The former Boise State star shot a one-under 71 at Royal Liverpool and was tied for 33rd after the first round. DeLaet saddled himself with three bogeys in a five-hole stretch of the back nine but recovered to birdie two of his final three holes, including the 18th. For comparison's sake, he began last year's British Open with five-over 76 at Muirfield in Scotland. Unfortunately, that's what DeLaet shot in today's second round, and he's in danger of missing the cut.

There's another watch list nod for Jay Ajayi. The Boise State junior is one of three Mountain West players who made the cut for the Doak Walker Award that goes to the nation's best running back. He's the only player returning from the first-team All-Mountain West offense last year, and his 1,425 rushing yards total from 2013 is the fourth-highest nationally among returning running backs this season. Ajayi has already been named to the Maxwell Award watch list.

Council is throwing a little community barbecue tonight to honor Matt Paradis before he heads off to his first NFL training camp. Boise State and Denver Broncos fans are invited to bring a chair, a side dish, and table service and visit with Matt, the hometown boy who walked on at BSU and became an All-Mountain West center before being drafted in the sixth round this year by Denver. The gathering will begin at 6 p.m. at the Veterans Peace Park behind the Legion Hall on Highway 95 in Council.

The NBA's Las Vegas summer league wraps up tonight after an eight-day run, with 16 former Idaho Stampede players sprinkled among the 24 teams competing. Two of the key standouts from last season's Stampede squad are worth noting. Kevin Murphy, who picked up Pierre Jackson's role as a scoring machine midway through the season, has averaged 9.3 points in three games for the L.A. Lakers entry. And Dee Bost, who was second in the D-League in assists in 2013-14, is averaging three points and three assists in two games for Dallas. Bost also suited up for Indiana in the Orlando summer league, recording 5.8 points and 2.2 assists per game in five appearances.

Justin Holiday, the Stampede's leading scorer in 2012-13, has been solid for the Golden State Warriors' team in Las Vegas. Holiday is averaging 18.3 points per game and six rebounds per game. Two players assigned to the Stamps by Portland are making some noise with the Blazers. C.J. McCollum is the second-leading scorer at the Vegas session, hitting 20 points per outing. Will Barton is registering a well-rounded 14.5 points and seven boards per game.

Only one thing for the Boise Hawks to do now: try to start a new winning streak. The four-game run wasn't going to last forever, and Spokane pounded the Hawks 12-5 last night at Memorial Stadium. The visitors scored two in the first, then added three different three-run innings to run away with it. What it cost Boise was a chance to pull even with Hillsboro in the Northwest League South Division, because the Hops were handcuffed by Tri-City last night 2-1. The Hawks still trail by a game with four left to play in the first-half pennant chase.

Going into the second half of the major league season (mathematically it's way past half), the San Francisco Giants are searching for answers. The Giants have fallen into second place in the NL West after leading the division by 9½ games on June 8. Since then, they've gone 10-22. Many are tying the swoon to the loss of centerfielder Angel Pagan to a back injury. Former Boise Hawk Tyler Colvin has helped reinforce the outfield in Pagan's absence, but his days may be numbered. Colvin got off to a hot start when the Giants added him to the roster in early May. In his third game with San Francisco, Colvin homered and tripled in a win over Atlanta. Now he's hitting a pedestrian .231, with two homers and 17 RBI. When Pagan is fully functional again, there's a feeling Colvin will be the odd man out.

Back to golf—neither of Boise State's qualifiers in national public links tournaments made it to match play this week. Ty Travis played the U.S. Men's Amateur Public Links Championship Monday and Tuesday. The former Eagle Mustang carded a 76 and a 78 on the Sand Creek Station course in Newton, KS. The Broncos' Haliee Pieper also missed the cut at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links. Pieper struggled to an 82 and a 78 on the Home Course in Dupont, WA.

This Day In Sports…July 18, 2000:

A followup of sorts on yesterday's column—on his 34th birthday, defending Olympic decathlon champion and former University of Idaho athlete Dan O'Brien withdraws from the US Olympic Trials due to a foot injury, ending his quest for back-to-back gold medals. O'Brien was the subject of a national Reebok advertising campaign leading up to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona but failed to qualify for the Games at the Olympic Trials. He redeemed himself at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta with a gold medal and had a legitimate shot at becoming the first athlete since Bob Mathias to repeat as a gold medalist in the decathlon. But it was not to be. Happy 48th birthday to Dan O'Brien.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB's Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB's telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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