Kevin Tway wins Boise Open in playoff, earns career-making paycheck

Son of 1986 PGA champion finishes with record score, moves comfortably into position for a PGA Tour card.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJuly 28, 2013 

— Kevin Tway just rallied from three strokes down with four holes to go to force a playoff at the Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club on Sunday.

On the first hole of the playoff, he stood over a 6-foot putt for birdie on the 18th green. His hands shook slightly as he lined up the putt that could seal his first win as a pro and a $139,500 paycheck.

Tway was definitely battling some nerves — about speaking to the crowd after his win.

“I was thinking about how nervous I would be giving the speech,” Tway said. “Instead of winning the golf tournament, I was worried more about the speech. I’m really nervous about public speaking, and that’s what was going through my mind.”

As it turned out, Tway made the putt, and the speech.

The 25-year-old rookie out of Oklahoma State posted a tournament-record score for his first win on the Tour. Tway, who defeated Spencer Levin on the first hole of the playoff, jumped from No. 39 to No. 6 on the money list.

The day before his win, Tway received some timely advice from his father, Bob Tway, who won eight times on the PGA Tour and was in England playing in the Senior British Open.

“I told him I was pretty nervous coming into today,” Tway said. “He told me to play just like it's any other day. … So I tried to stay patient, and I did that through the first 14 holes, and then I kind of caught fire.”

He did indeed. Ahead of him, Michael Putnam finished at 22-under, and Spencer Levin was on his way to getting to 23-under.

“I knew I needed to make some birdies coming in, and I actually birdied 15, eagled 16 and birdied 17,” Tway said.

After missing his birdie putt on 18, he and Levin went back to the No. 18 tee box for a playoff.

Levin’s approach shot ended up about 10 feet above the hole. His birdie putt just slid past, leaving Tway with a tricky 6-foot putt for the win.

“It was on the same line as the putt I had in regulation, and I left that putt a little bit high,” Tway said. “So I knew it was maybe a ball outside right. … I struck a pretty good putt, and it went right in.”

Tway’s joy was countered by heartbreak for a few other golfers.

Putnam fired a 63 and was the first golfer in the clubhouse at 22-under. That score equaled the tournament record prior to Sunday.

“I finished second last year (in Boise) and I beat that score,” Putnam said immediately after finishing his round. “I feel like I played a great round of golf, and if someone catches me, they catch me.”

Putnam took the lead into last year's Boise Open, only to be passed by Luke Guthrie on the final day. He was a combined 40-under in the past two Boise Opens, but left Hillcrest again without a victory. He did, however, retain his No. 1 ranking on the money list and is well on his way to being fully exempt on the PGA Tour next season.

Levin was playing in his second tournament since sitting out eight months with a thumb injury. He came into Sunday trailing third-round leader Philip Pettitt Jr. by three strokes, but fired a 63 in the final round to finish at 23-under, which would have been good enough to win the previous 23 Boise Opens.

Levin made one bogey in his four rounds (a 6 on the par-5 third hole), and that was the hole he was thinking about after his playoff loss.

“I knew it was going to cost me the tournament,” Levin said. “And that was back in the middle of Friday’s round.”

Pettitt had never led after any round during his previous 48 career starts on the Tour, so Sunday was new territory for him. He shot a 67 to finish at 22-under and miss the playoff by the narrowest of margins.

“I wanted to win,” Pettitt said. “I'm definitely disappointed, but a lot of good came out of this. … This game will beat you up more than it will reward you. But weeks like this make up for the whole year.”

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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