Stephan Jaeger wins fifth Korn Ferry Tour title at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco
Time and time again, Stephan Jaeger has provided a roadmap to playing under pressure. Sunday’s final round at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco proved to be no different as the 31-year-old carded a 3-under 68 to claim a two-stroke victory at Hillcrest Country Club.
“I feel comfortable being uncomfortable,” Jaeger reiterated after the win. “The only time I get uncomfortable is when I have the lead…My goal every time I play is to win the golf tournament. It’s been a little bit of a drought, and obviously I was on TOUR last year and I want to win one of those, but I’m on the Korn Ferry Tour this year so I’m going to try and win as many as I can by next August.”
With the win, Jaeger has now won five times (of 11 career top-10s) in 97 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, one of only 13 players in the Tour’s 31-year history to earn five or more wins. He is two shy of Jason Gore’s all-time record of seven wins.
Jaeger’s victory also places him atop the three-event points list of which the top-five earners over the Korn Ferry Tour Championship Series earn 2020 U.S. Open exemptions. While not mathematically confirmed yet, Jaeger is in great shape to earn one of the five exemptions.
“It would be awesome to play in the U.S. Open because I could see Jason Gore and try to beat his record,” laughed Jaeger. “I’m coming for you Jason! Playing in the U.S. Open would be great, but it’s kind of icing on the cake after this win. I’ve got to play well on this Tour to accomplish what I want to do which is to get back on TOUR.”
After rounds of 65-64-65 to start the tournament, Jaeger’s final round was much less of a birdie barrage. He eagled the second hole to quickly get to 2-under on the day but parred his next 11 holes before sinking a 30-foot birdie at the par-4 14th. He added another birdie at the par-5 16th for a three-stroke lead but slipped back to a two-stroke advantage, the final margin, with a bogey at the 17th.
“I felt some nerves early obviously; Cameron came out hot so I knew I needed to stay close,” said Jaeger after his playing competitor, Cameron Young, was 3-under through two holes. “I just never really had a birdie putt that was very close and if I did, I missed it. Sometimes you have days like that. I just put it on cruise control for a little bit there and tried to make some birdies on some easy holes. Nothing really happened until 14 and I made a longer putt there to give me something.”
Jaeger grew up in Germany before moving to the United States to finish up high school, play golf and attend the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He still lives in Chattanooga with his wife Shelby, who was in attendance in Boise to see his victory.
In addition to his five victories, Jaeger also holds the all-time 18-hole scoring record (58) and 72-hole scoring record (30-under 250) on Tour. This season he had made nine of 13 cuts to sit 74th in the points standings entering the week, but projects to move to 12th in the standings after the win.
Jaeger ultimately held off Syracuse, New York, native Dan McCarthy and former Stanford University star Brandon Wu for the two-stroke victory. McCarthy entered the day T10 but carded a final-round 64 to ascend the leaderboard. Wu, a 23-year-old rookie, earned his best career finish and his second top-10 finish in just four starts as a professional on Tour.
Next week, the Tour travels to Columbus, Ohio, for the second of three events in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship Series, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.
Stephan Jaeger takes one-stroke lead into final round at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco
BOISE, Idaho – Stephan Jaeger carded his third consecutive round of 65 or better on Saturday to reach 19-under and take a one-stroke lead at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. After rounds of 65-64-65, Jaeger leads Cameron Young by one stroke and Brandon Wu by two entering the final round at Hillcrest Country Club.
“No bogeys is always nice,” laughed Jaeger, who had a double bogey and a bogey in each of his first two rounds before a clean scorecard on Saturday. “I just put it in the right spots today on the green. A little more conservative today going at the greens because I knew if I missed on the wrong side I was looking at bogey. My game plan worked out pretty well today and we’ll do the same tomorrow.”
Jaeger, a German national who played collegiately at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, carded six birdies – three on each nine – for a stress-free 65. While the result was similar, the round was much less of an adventure than his first two days, which included a combined 15 birdies, two eagles, two bogeys and two double bogeys.
The 31-year-old has traditionally been comfortable atop the leaderboard. He has won four times on the Korn Ferry Tour (most recently in 2018) and holds the all-time 18-hole scoring record (58) and 72-hole scoring record (30-under 250) on Tour. This season he has made nine of 13 cuts to sit 74th in the points standings entering the week.
“I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and be nervous and be nervous on the first tee, but those are the kinds of nerves that you want to have,” said Jaeger. “If you’re not nervous on the weekend then you either missed the cut or are playing for 71st. It’s good to get some mojo back and get some nerves going on the weekend.”
Upstart Cameron Young leaped into contention behind a 61 on Saturday, the low round of the week. Entering the day T13 and five shots off the lead, Young promptly birdied his first four holes, added a birdie at the 10th, and then went birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie on Nos. 14-17 to reach 10-under on the day and 18-under on the tournament.
“I think 61 is a career-low in competition,” said Young. “I’ve shot 10-under once before, but that was a 62 down on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last year.”
Young is currently in the midst of a potentially life-altering three weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour. The 23-year-old, who is not a Korn Ferry Tour member, Monday qualified into the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna two weeks ago and eventually finished T11, earning barely earning enough points to get into last week’s event in Portland. He followed that p with a T14 finish a week ago, again earning just enough points to get into the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.
“I was waking up for a Monday qualifier just over two weeks ago,” said Young, a former star at Wake Forest University. “This is a bit surreal to be playing well in my third event, let alone even playing in one event. I think it’s been a huge step in the right direction to give myself an opportunity to play well.”
Young has had a whirlwind of a year. He was the medalist at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament in Dothan, Alabama, in March to earn fully exempt status in Canada, but the 2020 season was cancelled after the COVID-19 outbreak. With no PGA TOUR-sanctioned events to compete in, Young took to Monday qualifiers and mini tour events to gain some competition. Young competed in five Monday qualifiers before his breakthrough in Omaha.
“Taking advantage of Monday qualifiers is crucial because if you miss the cut, you are right back to the drawing board,” said Young. “They’re not much fun. You show up on Sunday afternoon and you know if you’re not 5-under through 10, you’re probably out of luck. It’s a brutal road.”
While he has status on the Mackenzie Tour locked up upon the Tour's return in 2021, Young is currently pushing to earn Special Temporary Membership on the Korn Ferry Tour. To earn the status, he will need to earn more than 269 points (equivalent to the No. 100 finisher in the 2019 points standings). With his two top-15 finishes, he currently has 111 points and would need a three-way tie for third (or better) to lock up Special Temporary Membership this week.
Final-round tee times will run from 7:04 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. MT on Sunday. The tournament will be broadcast live on GolfChannel.com from 2-3 p.m. MT and on Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m. MT on Sunday.
Stephan Jaeger, Brad Hopfinger share 36-hole lead at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco
Stephan Jaeger and Brad Hopfinger each carded 7-under 64s on Friday afternoon for a two-day total of 13-under 129 to co-lead after the second round of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. The cut was made at 4-under 138 with 74 professionals advancing to the weekend.
Jaeger enjoyed an eventful round at Hillcrest Country Club; the 31-year-old went birdie-eagle-birdie-double bogey to begin his round and added two more birdies and a bogey on his front nine. He added birdies at the 12th, 15th, 16th and 18th during a bogey-free back nine for a 64.
“I was 4-under through three and then I doubled and was 2-under through four,” laughed Jaeger. “It was still a pretty good start if you think about it. But I knew I was playing well which I think is the main part. If you’re around the cut and you make a double, you feel like it’s going to be tough to get back, but when you’re playing well you know you’re going to make a lot of birdies.”
It was the second day in a row that Jaeger got off to a scorching start. On Thursday, he holed out for eagle at the par-4 10th to start his round before eventually posting a 6-under 65. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga alum is plenty comfortable atop the leaderboard. He has won four times on the Korn Ferry Tour (most recently in 2018) and holds the all-time 18-hole scoring record (58) and 72-hole scoring record (30-under 250) on Tour. This season he has made nine of 13 cuts but has missed his last three to sit 74th in the points standings.
Not to be outdone by Jaeger’s fireworks, Hopfinger birdied three of his first four holes on the back nine before rattling off six straight pars entering the back-to-back par-5s on Nos. 2 and 3. He then promptly went eagle-eagle to reach 7-under.
“Yeah I went back-to-back in Colombia and did it on two par-4s there,” said Hopfinger. “That was fun, but that definitely helps your round. I mean even before that I was playing really well and just wasn’t making anything in the middle, but out here you just have to stay patient because there are plenty of opportunities.”
Hopfinger is one of three players to card back-to-back eagles this season, joining Dawson Armstrong and John Somers (Hopfinger and Armstrong have each done it twice). The 31-year-old Chicago resident has earned top-25 finishes in three of his past five starts and was 43rd in the points standings entering the week.
“We play for these chances to be in contention, to me that’s fun,” said Hopfinger. “We work hard at it and to have a chance, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity. The whole thing will be a blast…I’ve been playing really solid and I’ve been telling myself it’s just a matter of time.”
Jaeger and Hopfinger lead Saxon by a stroke, a week after Saxon held the 36-hole co-lead in Portland. After a T14 finish last week, Saxon got engaged to his fiancée Lauren in the Sawtooth Mountains on Tuesday before carding rounds of 63-67 to open at Hillcrest Country Club.
Third-round tee times will run from 7:09 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. MT on Saturday. The tournament will be broadcast live on GolfChannel.comfrom 2-3 p.m. MT and on Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m. MT on Saturday.
* Friday’s weather: Sunny with a high of 91 degrees and wind NW at 6-12 mph.
* The 36-hole cut fell at 4-under 138 with 74 professionals advancing to the weekend.
* The Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco serves as the first event of the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Championship Series, which includes elevated purses and points. Five exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open are also available to the top-five players (not otherwise exempt) in a points list specific to the three tournaments. The top-10 players on the Korn Ferry Tour’s overall point standings following the conclusion of the third tournament (the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance) will also earn entry into the PGA TOUR’s additional events (also known as opposite-field events) during the 2020-21 season.
* This marks the fourth 36-hole lead/co-lead of Jaeger’s career, two of which he has converted into victory. This is the first 36-hole lead of Hopfinger’s career as the University of Iowa alum seeks his first victory.
* Playing in the final group of the day, Hopfinger was the only player remaining without a bogey until his final hole, a bogey at the par-4 ninth to finish. Jaeger leads the field with 15 birdies (to go along with two eagles) this week.
* Jared Wolfe (-8, T13) holed out from the fairway for eagle on a par-4 on each of the first two days. He accomplished the feat at the first hole on Thursday and on the fifth on Friday. He also added an eagle at the par-5 16th and is the only player in the field with three eagles thus far.
* Of the three past champions in the field, only Sangmoon Bae (2018) made the cut and sits T31 after the second round. Luke Guthrie (2012) and Martin Piller (2015) each missed the cut. Piller holds the tournament record at 28-under 256.
* This week’s purse is $1,000,000 with $180,000 going to the champion. The champion will also receive 600 Korn Ferry Tour points.
* The combined 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour schedule will conclude with 25 PGA TOUR cards awarded at the 2021 WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz, with an additional 25 cards awarded at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
* The par-3 13th hole (216 yards) played as the hardest hole on Friday with a scoring average of 3.224.
* The par-5 16th hole (535 yards) played as the easiest hole on Friday with a scoring average of 4.294. In 2019, the hole played as the second-easiest hole on Tour (of 522 holes) with a scoring average of 4.323.
Tommy Gainey ties career-low round with 62 to lead at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco
A week after shooting an 81 in Portland – his worst round in more than three years – Tommy Gainey began the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco with a 9-under 62 to take a one-stroke lead after 18 holes. Gainey hit all 18 greens and tallied nine birdies in his bogey-free round, a fitting way to celebrate his 45th birthday on Thursday.
“I’ve had some great rounds in my career on my birthday in the past, but none as low as 62,” laughed Gainey. “My last few tournaments I’ve gotten off to really bad starts, like always bogeying the first hole. On No. 10 today, my first hole, I hit it to about 12 feet and made the putt for birdie. When you go from a bogey start to a birdie start, right away you’ve got momentum built.”
Gainey birdied his first three holes of the day and didn’t look back, turning at 5-under 30 and tacking on four more birdies on the front nine coming in. The 62 tied his lowest career round on the Korn Ferry Tour, a mark he previously set in 2010 and again in 2014.
“I shot 81 in the first round in Portland last week and then shot 67 in the second round,” said Gainey. “That second round I found something and carried it on into today. I made some putts, I think I had 27 putts out there today, and I hit every green and a lot of fairways.”
Gainey, a former PGA TOUR champion and three-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, won the first event of the year at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. Since then, he has made just three of nine cuts and dropped to 21st in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings.
“That’s just golf,” said Gainey, remarking on his inconsistencies this season. “If you’re not hitting it all that well and putting it well, then you won’t make birdies. Out here, if you don’t make birdies, you don’t make cuts. I started making some birdies today and I’m going to try and build off that for the first two days.”
Charlie Saxon continued his recent tear with an opening-round 63 to sit one shot back. The 27-year-old has earned top-20 finishes in three of his last five starts and co-led through 36 holes last week before a disappointing weekend. Still, he has risen from 113th on the points list a month and a half ago to 63rd entering this week at Hillcrest Country Club.
“It was a rough start to the year, but I was working really hard,” said Saxon, who set a new career-low round on Tour with the 63. “I feel like I’ve been working on some of the right things here lately and it’s starting to come to fruition. I’ve been playing some good golf and I’m confident in what I’m doing. Golf can feel really hard sometimes and it did at the beginning of the year, but right now it’s starting to feel pretty easy. You just ride these times out while you can.”
Second-round tee times will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:31 p.m. on Friday. The tournament will be broadcast live on GolfChannel.com from 3-6 p.m. MT and tape-delayed on Golf Channel from 7-9 p.m. MT on Friday.
2020 Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco to be Played as Scheduled, No Fans Due to Covid-19 Pandemic
The Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco announced today that the 2020 event will be contested without spectators in attendance. The longstanding Korn Ferry Tour tournament, which has been held at Hillcrest Country Club since 1990, will be played as scheduled, August 13-16.
“It is unfortunate that we will not be able to host our loyal and passionate fans for this year’s event, but the well-being of the Boise and Treasure Valley communities has remained of utmost importance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The PGA TOUR and the Albertsons Boise Open will continue to work directly with local, state and federal government agencies to ensure the health and safety of the players, caddies, volunteers and essential personnel who are allowed onsite during tournament week,” said Executive Director Jeff Sanders. “With deadlines approaching tied into the operational logistics of running a professional golf tournament, it became readily apparent that conducting the 2020 event with fans onsite would not be a possibility in this ever-changing climate.”
Ada County, which encompasses Boise and other surrounding towns, recently announced a move back to Stage 3 of the reopening plan, based on recent spikes in cases.
This year will mark the 31st anniversary of the Albertsons Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club. The event – one of the four original tournaments from the Korn Ferry Tour’s inaugural 1990 season – has raised over $25 million for Treasure Valley charities.
“Even without spectators, the Albertsons Boise Open will remain a platform to give back to charity again this year and help support the Treasure Valley community as it has for the past 31 years,” said Sanders. “We would like to thank the Albertsons Company for over three decades of amazing support, our long-time golf fans throughout Idaho as well as our many great sponsors, vendor partners, members and volunteers for their continued support throughout this unprecedented time.”
All four rounds of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco will be broadcast live on GOLF Channel, with airtimes to be announced at a later date.
For more information on the Albertsons Boise Open, please visit AlbertsonsBoiseOpen.com.
Matthew NeSmith wins first title, earns PGA TOUR card at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco
Matthew NeSmith made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to post a 19-under total and a one-stroke victory over Viktor Hovland and Brandon Hagy at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco. With the win, NeSmith moved to the top spot in The Finals 25 and secured his PGA TOUR card for the first time.
“It’s a huge dream,” said NeSmith, who closed with a 7-under 64. “I’ve been hanging around on mini-tours for a couple of years and I played in Canada until finally getting out here to the Korn Ferry Tour. I played solid all year long, but I started playing really well towards the end of the year, got into the Finals and then anything can happen.”
There was constant change atop Sunday’s leaderboard, as four different players held solo leads. Playing in the fifth-to-last group, Hagy took his turn as the leader when he birdied the last two holes to post a final-round 64 and take the clubhouse lead at 18-under.
Two groups later, NeSmith made two key up-and-downs – for birdie on the par-5 16th and for par on the par-3 17th – and approached the 18th tee tied with Hagy at 18-under. After pulling his drive into the left rough, NeSmith attacked the back-left hole location and hit a wedge to 15 feet, setting up his winning putt.
“I was just happy to have a look in all honesty. I didn’t really know what I was going to have from down there,” said NeSmith. “I ended up having a great shot, hit it perfectly. I had an uphill look moving a bit right to left, and I just wanted to give it a chance. Luckily it went in the middle.”
Twelve months ago, NeSmith was finishing his second season on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada having missed the cut in seven out of 10 starts. He earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour by finishing T22 at Q-School, and he improved his status through the reshuffle by finishing T9 in the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
In his rookie year on the Korn Ferry Tour, NeSmith went on to tally three top-10s in the regular season and finish No. 46 on the points list. After his most recent top-10, a T8 at the Ellie Mae Classic, PGA TOUR player Kyle Thompson called NeSmith and offered some advice that helped him complete his journey to the TOUR.
“He told me to try and do everything slow. I tried to walk as slow as I possibly could,” NeSmith said about the advice from one of his mentors. “Once you start going fast and something goes wrong then you can get in your own way just by not being able to calm down. I needed some time to walk a bit slower and hit some good shots.”
With NeSmith in the clubhouse at 19-under, Hovland still had a chance to force a playoff, as he birdied No. 16 to cut his deficit to two. After a par on No. 17, the Norwegian nearly forced extra holes with a heroic eagle on No. 18, but his approach settled three feet from the hole and he had to settle for a birdie and a T2 finish.
Hovland led by one through 54 holes, the second time he’s led/co-lead in The Finals (first round, Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship). Though he didn’t break through for his first professional victory, Hovland backed up his T11 finish from last week and earned his promotion to the PGA TOUR next season.
“I was trying to win the golf tournament. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t perform better today,” said Hovland. “There were some guys that went low today and played well, but I felt like I left some shots out there. That’s always a little disappointing but I think in a couple of days I will refresh and be happy about going to the TOUR.”
Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland carded a 7-under 64 on Saturday to leap to the top of the leaderboard at 15-under through three rounds of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. The low round positions him to earn his first PGA TOUR card with a strong finish on Sunday at Hillcrest Country Club.
“This week in Boise has a chance to be my first professional victory, so it could be pretty special here for me,” said Hovland. “If I happen to win, then I’m going to look back at this week as a pretty sweet week for me. I really like it here – the backdrop has mountains everywhere. The course is kind of narrow off the tee, you have to hit it straight…You have to take some irons off the tee and play the angles; I think it’s a great course.”
After back-to-back 67s over the first two rounds, Hovland came out of the gate hot, birdieing four of his first five holes to jump into contention. He turned in 4-under 32 before adding birdies at Nos. 12, 15 and 16 to reach 15-under. The 21-year-old ranks T2 in putting average and T12 in driving distance so far this week.
Despite making his debut in Boise, Hovland enjoyed a strong crowd throughout his round, growing especially large as he claimed the lead during the back nine.
“The crowd support has been crazy; I’m from Oslo, Norway, and I’ve been in the United States for three years now,” said Hovland. “I don’t do anything in particular to stand out, I just play my golf and try to be myself, but I’m glad people like it.”
Hovland made waves this year on the PGA TOUR with four top-25s in five starts as a professional, including a solo-fourth finish at the Wyndham Championship. He also competed in the Masters Tournament (T32) and the U.S. Open (T12) as an amateur before turning professional. He was part of a vaunted trio of newcomers on TOUR that included Oklahoma State teammate Matthew Wolff and University of California-Berkeley star Collin Morikawa. Wolff and Morikawa have already won on TOUR this season to secure their status for next season, while Hovland is looking to earn his way to the PGA TOUR through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
“It’s been a crazy journey, even so far, and I’ve only been a professional golfer for a couple of months,” said Hovland, who likely needs a top-25 finish to pass the projected points threshold to earn his PGA TOUR card. “Seeing what Collin [Morikawa] and Matt [Wolff] have done, I’m hoping to try and catch them. Looking back, I don’t think anyone could have really expected this to happen. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Another former college teammate of Hovland’s, Korn Ferry Tour rookie Kristoffer Ventura, has already secured his PGA TOUR card for the 2019-20 season through two wins during the Regular Season. The duo went hiking in the Boise foothills on Wednesday.
Veteran Rob Oppenheim carded the low round of the tournament with a 10-under 61 to rise to T2 entering the final round. Oppenheim went eagle-eagle on Nos. 2 and 3 and tacked on six more birdies to tie his best career round. Bronson Burgoon posted a 5-under 66 to equal Oppenheim’s three-day total at 14-under 199.
Sunday’s final-round tee times will run from 7:30-11:55 a.m.
Ryan Brehm equaled the round of the week on Friday with an 8-under 63 to ascend to the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes at the 30th Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. At 12-under 130, Brehm leads Charlie Saxon by one stroke entering the weekend at Hillcrest Country Club.
Brehm, a 33-year-old from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, started on the 10th hole and carded eight birdies during a bogey-free round, including six straight from Nos. 15-2.
“I don’t remember the last time I had a streak like that,” said Brehm. “I actually looked at the scoreboard on the par-5 third and realized I had made six in a row, and I was in perfect position off the tee. I thought to myself let’s go get a seventh, and then of course I made a par. At least I made a birdie on the next hole.”
The Michigan State University alum posted 15 birdies through his first two rounds, countered by one bogey and one double bogey on Thursday. Brehm finished 13th in The 25 during the Regular Season, earning a return to the PGA TOUR. He previously competed on TOUR during the 2016-17 season, making 17 of 25 cuts, but only tallying one top-25. This year, Brehm has accumulated five top-10s, highlighted by his second career win at the LECOM Health Challenge.
While some players have taken a different approach at the shorter layout of Hillcrest Country Club, Brehm has continued doing what he does best: hitting driver off the tee. He ranks 10th on Tour in driving distance and fourth this week with an average of 354 yards per drive.
“I’m hitting driver as much as I can out here; it’s as simple as that,” said Brehm. “I think I hit it nine times today. There are a few times where I don’t because if it’s not perfect then you can get yourself in trouble, but I’m going to live and die by the sword. I’m going to keep sending it over the next two days and see what happens.”
Brehm hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation on Friday, T7 in the field. His shot of the day came at the par-3 17th, where he put it to one foot. Despite the fireworks at the penultimate hole, his shot on the hole was overshadowed by one he witnessed.
“I threw a couple of darts; I threw one into No. 17 to about a foot away and had a kick-in birdie,” said Brehm. “I was walking by earlier in the round – I think I was on No. 13 – and I saw Brett Stegmaier hit a hole-in-one there. And then I hit it close, so that hole was just fun today.”
Saxon, the 18-hole co-leader, backed up a first-round 64 with a second-round 67 to reach 11-under through two rounds. The 26-year-old carded five birdies and one bogey on Friday to remain near the top of the leaderboard.
“That was the goal coming into today, to get somewhere comfortably into double digits and go out there and stick to the process I’ve been doing and play a solid round,” said Saxon. “It wasn’t quite as clean as yesterday but for the most part I’m pretty pleased with how my round went.”
Saxon, who is the career money leader on PGA TOUR Series-China, is competing in a full slate of Korn Ferry Tour events this season for the first time. He competed in 15 events in 2017 but earned only one top-25. This year, the University of Oklahoma alum has seven top-25s in 22 starts.
Saturday’s third-round tee times will run from 7:50 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.
Grayson Murray, Charlie Saxon share first-round lead at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco
Grayson Murray and Charlie Saxon carded rounds of 7-under 64 at Hillcrest Country Club and share the first-round lead at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. In the second of three tournaments in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, Murray is looking to strengthen his status on the PGA TOUR for the 2019-20 season, while Saxon has a chance to earn his TOUR card for the first time.
Murray was exempt on the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of his win at the 2017 Barbasol Championship, but his year was cut short by a lower-back injury that originated in 2018. After he “tweaked it pretty bad” at the Valero Texas Open in April, Murray withdrew and didn’t touch a club for two months in order for the inflammation to reduce.
His first start after the injury was a T2 finish at the REX Hospital Open in June, and he’s coming off a T23 finish at the first Finals event, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. He took a medical exemption and will have 12 starts on TOUR next season, but a finish in The Finals 25 will guarantee him a full schedule for 2019-20.
“My goal was to be feeling good going into these Playoffs,” said Murray, who is playing back-to-back weeks for the first time since March. “Like any of us out here, if we’re playing decent or swinging decent we want to keep it going. I’m glad that my body is feeling good enough to do it.”
After averaging 30.5 putts per round last week in Columbus, Murray needed just 25 putts in his 7-under 64 on Thursday. It was his third straight 64 at Hillcrest Country Club, as he carded weekend rounds of 64-64 to finish third at the 2016 Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.
“With the breeze it got pretty tricky and there are definitely some pins that we were having to steer 20, 30 feet away from just with the wind,” Murray said. “Usually, around this place, you want to fire at everything, so it’s holding its own. I felt like 7-under was a really good score out there.”
For Saxon, his first-round 64 was a step towards a promotion to the PGA TOUR. Entering this week, Saxon had missed the cut in three of his last four starts, including a 73-79 performance last week at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. He hit just 7 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens on Thursday, but he needed only 20 putts – including one-putts on his last 10 holes.
“It wasn’t the cleanest round, I don’t even think I hit that many greens, but when I was in trouble, I was able to give myself a good look at par,” said Saxon, who matched his season-best score on Thursday. “My putts per greens in regulation must have been really low because when I did hit the green, I was pouring in the birdie putts.”
Saxon posted seven top-25s and finished the regular season 40th on the points list. He has secured status on the Korn Ferry Tour for next year, and that level of job security has eased the pressure of the Finals.
“I’d love to play on the PGA TOUR next year, it’s been a lifelong dream that I have a chance to achieve, but at the same time, I know that another year out here wouldn’t be the worst thing with some more time to get better,” Saxon said. “So I’m just treating it as an opportunity, and if I play well the next three days then I will get my TOUR card, and if not, then the world isn’t going to end.”
Four players are tied for third after rounds of 6-under 65. Hank Lebioda (148th), Tom Hoge (159th) and Tyler Duncan (163rd) finished No. 126-200 in the FedExCup this year and are looking to return to the PGA TOUR, while Mark Anderson finished No. 14 in The 25 and secured his TOUR card for the third time and first since 2016-17.
The Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco is the second of three events in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The 2019 season concludes next week at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, where The Finals 25 will earn their PGA TOUR cards for the 2019-20 season.
Friday’s second-round tee times will run in two waves off of the first and 10th tees from 7:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
The 30th Annual Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft & Nabisco kicked off the tournament week on Tuesday evening with the Official Pro-Am Dinner at the Boise Centre. In front of an audience of more than 700 sponsors and media partners, executives from Albertsons Companies and Lagardere Sports announced that this year’s tournament raised a record breaking $1.5 MILLION for charity. This takes the 30 year total charitable contribution to over $25 MILLION.
“Thanks to the continued and amazing support of Albertsons Companies, our supporting sponsors and our fans, we are thrilled to announce this huge contribution to deserving charities,” said Jeff Sanders, President of Lagardere Sports Golf Events, management company of the Albertsons Boise Open. “Its been a long and enjoyable ride since our first year in 1990 and we are so pleased that the event continues to support deserving charities in the Boise community.”
Through the Tyson Foods TICKETS Fore CHARITY program, 100% of tournament ticket sales are given directly to Boise area charities.
The Albertsons Boise Open is the second of the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals where the top 75 professionals from the Korn Ferry Tour and 75 PGA TOUR professionals will compete for 25 PGA TOUR cards for next season.
This week the spotlight will be on Boise as 150 of the world’s best golfers compete at Hillcrest Country Club. The list of PGA TOUR players who have routed through Boise on their way to the PGA TOUR is legendary including names like Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Xander Schauffele, Gary Woodland and many others. This year alone, 29 of the 50 PGA TOUR events were won by players who also played at the Albertsons Boise Open in the past.
Golf Channel will broadcast this week’s tournament internationally to more than 800 Million viewers worldwide.
The tournament offers many special events and amenities for fans to enjoy at no additional charge including The Idaho Statesman Junior Golf Clinic presented by Tyson Foods, held on Wednesday at 5:00 PM and the Litehouse Foods Family Day on Sunday from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Fans can also enjoy on-course hospitality at no additional charge in the MillerCoors Fan Deck on the 18th hole, the Michelob Ultra Beers Fore Birdies tent on the 16th hole and the Fan Zone adjacent to the 18th fairway.
Daily tickets to the tournament are $15, weekly tickets are just $25 and kids 17 and under get in free all week with a ticketed adult. To purchase tickets supporting Boise area charities and for more information, visit AlbertsonsBoiseOpen.com.