PGA Tour winners top Boise Open leaderboard

Albertsons Boise Open third-round highlights

Watch some key shots from the third round of the Albertsons Boise Open.
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Watch some key shots from the third round of the Albertsons Boise Open.

Two PGA Tour winners and a European Tour winner headline an expected shootout Sunday in the final round of the Albertsons Boise Open.

Scott Stallings, a three-time PGA Tour winner, and Michael Thompson, a one-time winner and U.S. Open runner-up, are tied for the lead at 16-under.

Miguel Angel Carballo, who has bounced between the PGA and tours, is one shot back in third. Second-round leader Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who won a European Tour event this season, is two shots back in fourth.

Those four have excelled on a Hillcrest Country Club layout that has proven far stingier this year.

Stallings, Thompson and Carballo will form the final group at 11:10 a.m.

“There’s a premium on fairways, and you really have to control your ball coming into the greens,” Thompson said. “Guys with a little bit more PGA Tour or European Tour experience are going to fare well on this golf course.”

Stallings, 31, has assembled rounds of 66, 65 and 66. He won The Greenbrier Classic in 2011, True South Classic in 2012 and Farmers Insurance Open in 2014.

He plans to take an aggressive approach Sunday.

“No one told me I made too many birdies today. No one’s ever said that,” Stallings said. “That’s the attitude you have. I made seven today. I had a couple of silly mistakes, but I truly feel like I left a really low round out there today.”

Stallings has endured struggles on and off the course since his last PGA Tour win. While trying to combat a mysterious ailment that was sapping his strength and making it difficult for him to remember the shots he hit the day before, he took a prescribed hormone that was on the PGA Tour’s banned list. He admitted the mistake in February 2015, without failing a drug test, and was suspended for three months by the PGA Tour.

Eventually, doctors figured out that obstructive sleep apnea was causing his problems. He underwent sinus reconstruction surgery.

“I don’t wish that on anybody,” Stallings said. “Don’t go search around on WebMD very much. It’s pretty bad.”

Stallings finished in the top 85 in the FedExCup standings during his first four years on the PGA Tour, from 2011 to 2014. He dropped to No. 129 last year but retained his tour card because of his latest victory.

He finished 128th this year — three spots too low to retain exempt status. He made 11 cuts in 27 events, which pushed him into the Tour Finals for the first time.

“My attitude is just thankful,” he said. “About this point last year, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know if I was going to be playing. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but I didn’t know what the future held.”

He tied for sixth in the finals opener last week, nearly securing his PGA Tour status for next season. That came on the heels of a tie for 16th in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic and a pair of good scores in events where he missed cuts.

“I know that I’ve been trending for a while,” he said.

Thompson, who is good friends with Stallings, won the 2013 Honda Classic and was a runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Open, finishing one shot behind winner Webb Simpson.

Thompson has been on the PGA Tour since 2011 but is playing in the Tour Finals for the second straight year.

He finished 146th in FedExCup points last year and 145th this year.

The finals serve as motivation, he said.

“It makes me think about what I truly want to do with my golf and where I want to play, and that’s on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I think I’m starting to show myself that I’m capable of staying out there and I just need to go out and believe in it.”

Thompson fired a 7-under 64 in the third round to move from sixth to first. He was fantastic around the greens, chipping in for birdie on No. 5, holing a 70-foot putt for birdie on No. 11, making a pair of testy par putts on Nos. 12 and 13 and dropping a birdie putt from the fringe on No. 15.

His 64 tied for the best score on a day when several players stalled or made mistakes near the top of the leaderboard.

“Every time I was faced with adversity, I just kind of responded,” said Thompson, 31. “I hit a great shot or made a great putt and was able to give myself plenty of chances.”

Johnston, the clear crowd favorite, made costly bogeys in unexpected places on Nos. 3 and 18 in the third round to fall out of the final group.

“Everything was bang average today,” he said, “and it wasn’t good enough.”

Boise Open fan facts

▪ Where: Hillcrest Country Club, Boise

▪ Sunday: 9:09 a.m.; leaders tee off at 11:10 a.m. (awards ceremony after 4 p.m.)

▪ Purse: $1 million ($180,000 for winner)

▪ TV: The Golf Channel (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)

▪ Tickets: $15 daily grounds (17 and younger free with a ticketed adult)

▪ Parking: Free shuttle from the airport economy lot at Victory and Orchard.

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