Boise Open notebook: Merritt plays his way into contention

The former Boise State player shoots 8-under 63 to move just four shots back at home tourney.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJuly 28, 2013 

— Troy Merritt will be easy to spot in the final round of the Boise Open on Sunday.

“I get to wear blue and orange,” the former Boise State golfer said. “You’ll see me.”

Merritt shot himself into contention Saturday with a stellar third round. He had eight birdies and an eagle on his way to an 8-under 63. The only blemish on his scorecard was a double-bogey on No. 14. Merritt will go into the final round at 14-under par, four shots behind leader Philip Pettitt Jr.

“I think this is the fifth or sixth time I’ve shot 8-under on this tour,” said Merritt, who also shot a 63 at Hillcrest Country Club in 2011. “I’ve done it twice here now, but I haven’t been able to break that 8-under barrier. Today I had an 8-under with a double bogey. Hopefully, (Sunday) we erase that and make some more birdies, and post something better than 8-under.”

A round like that would make him feel a lot better about his future.

Merritt came into the Boise Open ranked No. 60 on the Tour money list, and the top 75 golfers at the end of the regular season (four more tournaments) will qualify for the playoffs.

“I really want to move up the money list,” Merritt said. “I really want to have my job secure for next year by the time this week is over.”

Truck tagging

The back door of the Tour operations truck is plastered with helmet stickers from various college football teams. About an hour after his round finished, Merritt added a Boise State sticker that had been signed by coach Chris Petersen.

“There are a lot of good teams on here, but now there’s a really good team,” Merritt joked as he placed the sticker.

Coming up aces

Alabama native Will Wilcox is having a remarkable summer.

A few weeks ago, he shot a 59 at the Utah Championship.

Saturday, he carded a hole-in-one on the 202-yard eighth hole.

“I just hit a really good 7-iron,” Wilcox said nonchalantly.

“Something’s going great every day for him,” Pettitt said.

There’s an army of longtime golfers who have never had a hole-in-one. Wilcox, however, is on the verge of losing count of the number of aces he’s had in his 27 years.

“I think eight,” he said.

But he certainly remembers his first one with pride.

“It was a 7-iron, 135 (yards),” Wilcox said.

And he was 10 years old. Understandably, it’s his favorite.

“Oh, yeah, 100 percent,” Wilcox said. “That was the best.”

Stats of the day

• Merritt and Pettitt Jr. each holed their second shots for eagles on the par-4 11th hole Saturday. In the previous 23 years of the tournament, the hole had yielded two eagles, one in 1992 and one in 2011.

• Saturday’s scoring average of 68.067 broke the tournament record of 68.129, which was established Friday.

• Steve Wheatcroft, Spencer Levin and Kelly Kraft all made eagles at the 10th hole Saturday. There have been only 10 eagles at the hole in the previous 23 years, and never more than two in any single year. Every eagle has happened during an odd-numbered year.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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