Former Boise State golfer sneaks under Boise Open cut line

Troy Merritt narrowly advances after a second-round 64.

sports@idahostatesman.comJuly 27, 2013 

— Former Boise State golfer Troy Merritt was eight shots better in the second round of the Boise Open than he was in the opening round.

Merritt shot a 7-under 64 to bring his two-day total to 6-under. But with the low scores being posted at Hillcrest Country Club, Merritt wasn’t ready to relax a few hours after finishing his round.

“It’s a nice afternoon, but I’d be enjoying it a little more if the cut wasn’t creeping toward 7-under,” Merritt said. “I’m gonna be kind of scared by the end of the day if the breeze stays down.”

Instead, Merritt was able to take a deep breath.

The cut came in at 6-under, the lowest in the tournament’s 24-year history. But Merritt will be playing this weekend, thanks to that second round.

“I played really solid today,” said Merritt, one of three players to shoot over par in the opening round and still make the cut. “I got off to the lead I was looking for and made a bunch of good putts on the front nine. I think I one-putted the first eight holes, which really helps out the scorecard.”

Next up on Merritt’s to-do list: Try to shoot up the leaderboard by the end of play Sunday afternoon.

Merritt came into the Boise Open ranked No. 60 on the Tour’s money list. The top 75 after 21 tournaments will qualify for the tour’s playoffs.

“I’m on the bubble, and I’d like to have a little more room for error coming down the stretch,” Merritt said. “I was hoping to play well this weekend, so I didn’t have to go to Pittsburgh next weekend.”

Not that he has anything against the Iron City. He’d just rather stay in Idaho so he can attend his cousin’s wedding in McCall.

“I’d love a top-10 finish and not have to play next week, for sure,” he said.

More Idaho ties

No other players from Idaho made the cut.

The closest to the cut line was Meridian’s Joe Panzeri, who shot an opening-round 67. He needed a birdie on his final hole, but ended up in the greenside bunker on No. 9 and finished with a bogey.

Still, he and Eagle’s Ty Travis each enjoyed the support of family and friends and a warm ovation at the end of the day.

Travis’ two rounds capped a wild couple of weeks. He won the Idaho Amateur on July 14, then qualified for the Boise Open on Monday.

Travis, the only amateur in the field, finished at 6-over.

More important than his score, however, was the experience he gained.

“The first few holes, both days, the nerves got to me,” said Travis, who is transferring to Boise State from Weber State and has two more years of eligibility. “After a few holes I settled in and became a little more comfortable. … It will make every other tournament that I have to go play seem a little easier.”

Stats of the day

• Friday’s scoring average of 68.129 was the lowest single-round average in tournament history. The previous low of 68.968 was set during the second round last year.

• Ohio State grad Chris Smith became the second player in tournament history to card three eagles in one round. Bradley Iles accomplished the feat on three par-5 holes, but Williams did it on two par-5s and a par-4 (No. 15).

• The second hole yielded the best scores Friday (eight eagles), while the 11th hole played the toughest (average was .135 above par).

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