Boise Open notebook: Nampa golfer 8 strokes back

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJuly 18, 2014 

D.J. Trahan reacts to a wayward tee shot on No. 17 during the first round of the Albertsons Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club. Trahan, who has two career PGA Tour victories and one on the Web.com Tour, shot a 73 on Thursday.

KYLE GREEN — kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Golf fans might have a hometown player to cheer on the weekend at this year's Albertsons Boise Open.

Tyler Aldridge of Nampa shot a 3-under-par 68 in the first round Thursday at Hillcrest Country Club. The top 65 players and ties will play the weekend. The projected cut is 6-under, which would match last year's tournament record.

"I didn't really hit it too well today, but I putted good, so that was nice," Aldridge said. "I'm going to head to the range and get it figured out."

Aldridge, a 29-year-old former PGA Tour member, is 57th on the PGA Tour Canada money list this season. He has made four of five cuts with one top-20 finish.

"I've had some really good rounds and some times where I'll struggle," he said. "It's just a matter of playing tournament golf, staying competitive."

He chose to play in the Boise Open on a sponsor's exemption over this week's PGA Tour Canada event. The Web.com Tour offers much larger purses. Plus, with a good week, Aldridge could get into future tournaments as well.

If Aldridge doesn't make a late-season charge, he'll go to Web.com Tour Qualifying School for the sixth time. He was a regular on the Web.com Tour in 2008 and PGA Tour in 2009.

"You've just got to keep grinding," he said. "You're going to have times when you struggle and years when you struggle. You've just got to keep with it and trust that what you're doing is right. It's just a game, too. That's what most of us forget sometimes. It's actually not a bad living, to be honest with you."

The other local results: Justin Snelling, Boise (70); Preston Otte, Boise (73); Jim Empey, Boise (76); and Ben Bryson, Boise (82).

CEJKA ON THE MEND

Alex Cejka of Germany, a two-time $1 million earner on the PGA Tour, is on his way back after a lengthy bout with allergies that derailed his career.

Cejka is third on the Web.com Tour money list and a lock to stay in the top 25.

"Everybody who has played golf in this profession knows you play one great year then you can lose it again for half a year," Cejka said. "This is, in this game, very normal. And with me, it was medical. I was injured. It wasn't like I just changed swings and lost it completely."

Cejka battled a combination of grass, pollen and food allergies that caused his fingers to swell and his skin to itch so badly he scratched until he bled, he said. The medicine that reduced the symptoms also made him sluggish.

He played a total of 14 events in 2012 in the U.S. with no top-10 finishes. He finished 64th on the Web.com Tour money list in 2013. He already has a first and a second on tour this year.

"Everybody puts a lot of effort in to play the PGA Tour," he said. "This year, I'm on the right side and know that I'm going back on the PGA Tour next year, so it's a nice feeling."

Cejka shot 73 on Thursday.

HAAS LEADS PAST CHAMPS

Hunter Haas, the 2010 Boise Open champion, shot a 5-under-par 66 in the first round. He needs a good week, ranking 51st on the money list.

Jason Gore, the 2002 champion, shot a 67. He is 16th on the money list, which puts him in position to return to the PGA Tour full time for the first time since 2009.

Fran Quinn, the 2009 champion, also shot 67. Defending champion Kevin Tway, on a break from the PGA Tour, shot 68.

NICE SHOTS

• Snelling made a double-eagle on the par-5 third hole. He holed a 4-wood from 239 yards.

• Casey Wittenberg carded an eagle 2 on the 462-yard 11th hole. He hit a good drive and holed a 7-iron from about 180 yards. The ball turned a little left in the air, landed at the top of the ridge in the green and hopped toward the back-left hole.

He didn't see the ball drop.

"The glare is really bad and with it being so smokey out it was kind of hard to see that far, but I noticed quickly afterward," he said.

• Cory Whitsett, who helped Alabama win the past two NCAA men's golf titles, aced the 17th hole with a sand wedge from 123 yards.

• Michael Putnam (No. 10) and Garrett Osborn (No. 1) also made eagles on par-4s.

RECORD DAY

• The field's stroke average Thursday was 68.596, nearly a half-stroke lower than last year's first-round record. The overall single-round record (68.067) was set in the third round last year.

• Steve Wheatcroft birdied a tournament-record seven straight holes - Nos. 15-18 and 1-3. He shot 64. Three players had shared the record with six straight birdies.

• Zack Sucher's first-round 60 was the seventh such opening round in Web.com Tour history and the first since 2011. Only one of the previous six opening 60s led to a victory.

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