Michael Putnam has made a habit of playing well at the Boise Open. He led after the first round in 2008, and he led through three rounds last year.
Even so, hes never had much momentum coming into Boise.
Ive come to Boise in years past not playing so well, Putnam said. But I was always looking forward to being on the West Coast and maybe starting to play well.
This years a different story.
Putnam will have plenty of momentum on his side when he tees off at 8:15 a.m. Thursday in the 24th Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club. The tournament runs through Sunday, when the winners share ($139,500) of the $775,000 purse will be awarded on the 18th green at approximately 5 p.m.
Putnam is No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list with $390,384 in earnings this season. He has two wins, a second-place finish and seven top-10 finishes in 15 appearances.
And now hes in Boise, where he feels more comfortable than any other event on tour, he said.
Obviously this year, Im coming to Boise playing well, and Ive played well all year, the 30-year-old Tacoma, Wash., native said. So Im just looking to keep it rolling here. Obviously, I like this part of the country, and Ive played well in Utah (where he won in 2010) and in Boise. So Im looking forward to having a good week.
Putnam is joined in Boise by his brother, Andrew, who is 5 years younger and a Web.com rookie. Andrew, who is ranked 34th on the money list, said he is motivated by his brother's success.
Its a good thing when we're both playing well and can spur each other on, Andrew said.
Michael Putnam is ranked second on the Web.com Tour in greens-in-regulation percentage (75.65), but he said its his putter that has made the difference in his success this season.
I had a good three-month stretch with the putter where I was putting really well, Putnam said. Im always a pretty good ball-striker, which keeps me in tournaments. But Ive made putts under pressure this year. Ive been able to stroke it with confidence. Ive put them on line and my hands haven't been shaking, all those things that happen when you miss putts. Ive kind of conquered that feeling.
It has resulted in that No. 1 ranking, which is of ultimate importance under the new PGA Tour qualifying structure. A top ranking going into the final four playoff events would guarantee Putnam full exempt status next year.
No. 1 means everything, Putnam said. Its really important to keep that position until the end of the year, and this is one of those weeks that is going to define that, because its such a big purse. Im in a position where I can wrap it up, which is what I want to do.
A strong showing in Boise would go a long way toward doing just that. But Putnam said its going to take a low score to do so. The previous Boise Opens were played in September, so this is the first time the pros will have their go at Hillcrest in July.
I think its going to play even easier, because its so hot they have to keep water on the greens, he said. Typically, this tournament has really firm and fast greens. But theyre going to have trouble getting them that firm and fast because they don't want to kill them.
Its going to be a shootout. Theres going to be a low score.
Two tournaments ago, Will Wilcox shot a 59 on Sunday at the Utah Championship. Putnam said the same conditions at that tournament might reappear in Boise.
In Utah, it was too hot to get the greens firm, so they were soft and we were making a lot of birdies, Putnam said. Same thing could happen here. Theres a good chance someone might shoot a 59 this week.
That would top the best 18-hole score in tournament history by two strokes. Three golfers have shot 61, the most recent by Scott Piercy in 2008.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424