In the third round of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft, Philip Pettitt Jr. holds a one-stroke lead at 18-under.
BOISE, Idaho -- Scoring took another beating at the 24th Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft but this time it came from the players in the back of the pack, not the leaders. At the end of the day, Tennessee’s Philip Pettitt Jr. stood at the top of a crowded leaderboard that has 20 players within four shots of the lead.
Saturday’s scoring average of 68.067 broke the tournament record of 68.129, which was established in Friday’s second round.
Pettitt fired a career-low 63 and moved to 18-under 195, one stroke better than 36-hole leader Russell Knox, who followed up a record-setting 59 on Friday with a bogey-free, 3-under 68 Saturday at Hillcrest Country Club.
“I played good, especially coming out the box with a birdie at one and then two more at two and three,” Pettitt said. “I putted great. I missed one at 17 but that was the only opportunity that I missed.”
Texan Michael Connell started the early battering of the par-71 layout with a 10-under 61 that put him at 16-under. Connell birdied three of his final four holes Friday just to make the 36-hole cut on the number. He was in the third group off the tee Saturday and took advantage of the perfect scoring conditions to vault to the top. He remained there for most of the day but was eventually joined by several others.
Will Wilcox, who shot a 59 two weeks ago, posted a 9-under 62 -- which included an ace -- to join Connell in a tie for third. Kevin Tway (63), Will MacKenzie (65), Chad Collins (67) and Bronson La’Cassie (68) are also just two shots back heading into Sunday’s finale.
“Everyone is bunched up now and tomorrow is going to be a shootout,” said Knox, who rolled in short birdie putts at Nos. 16 and 17 to gain a spot in the final pairing. “I’m in perfect position. They’re all going to find it difficult tomorrow to back up their good rounds.”
Pettitt, a second-year Web.com Tour member, has the edge despite the fact that he’s never been the outright leader after any single round in his previous 48 career starts on tour.
“I won three times in 2011 and it’s a different stage. I get that but winning’s winning,” said Pettitt, whose career-best tour finish is a tie for third. “I’ve done it before. I’ve got to remember that feeling that I had there.”
Pettitt had missed the cut in five of his last six starts and wouldn’t have been among the betting favorites this week.
“Numbers don’t lie but sometimes they take a while to kick in,” he said. “I’ve played significantly better the last few weeks. I knew it was a matter of time but there are only five weeks left (in the regular season) so I knew I needed to make a move somewhere along the line and I was hoping it was sooner rather than later.”
Knox played solid, patient golf after the hoopla that surrounded his day Friday – which included an evening interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He birdied his second hole of the day and then settled for 13 consecutive pars before a late run.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge, how can it not be? I had to regroup,” he said. “I was still close to the lead. I had a bunch of 10, 15 and 20-footers for birdie that went in yesterday but not today. I was expecting it, just like I expect them to go in tomorrow.”
• Weather -- Cloudy in the morning and then sunny. Overnight low of 68. Daytime high of 95. Winds increasing through the day to NW 10-20 mph.
• Philip Pettitt Jr.’s round of 63 is his career-low on the Web.com Tour. He previously posted a pair of 64s -- a 7-under 64 in the second round of the 2012 Cox Classic and an 8-under 64 in the second round of the 2012 Price Cutter Charity Championship.
• Pettitt has never held or shared a lead after any single round on the Web.com Tour. This is his 49th career start. His previous best standing after 54 holes was a T4 spot at the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship.
• Pettitt is in search of his first career win on Tour. His best finish to date is a T3 at the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenel near Washington, D.C.
• Pettitt has made the cut in just five of 16 starts this year. He had missed the cut in five of his previous six starts. His best finish is a T12 at the Chile Classic.
• Pettitt has only three career top-10 finishes on Tour, all in 2012: T3 Neediest Kids Championship, T4 Mexico Open, T9 Soboba Golf Classic.
• Pettitt is making his second start in Boise. He posted scores of 69-68-71-72--280 (-4) last year and finished T65.
• Michael Connell went from cut line to leader early Saturday. The 38-year-old Texan posted a career-low, 10-under 61 that took him from the back of the pack to clubhouse leader at 16 under. Connell had 10 birdies on the day, including the last four holes. When he completed play just before 11 a.m. he was two shots in front of second-round leader Russell Knox, who was still two hours away from his 1:10 p.m. tee time.
• Connell’s 61 bettered his previous career low by three strokes. The Mississippi State grad shot a 64 in the third round of the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. His previous low on the Web.com Tour was 65, which he had done four times.
• Connell was in the third group off the first tee this morning and his name remained atop the leaderboard for nearly 5-1/2 hours before Pettitt posted a 63 to overtake him for the lead.
• Will Wilcox continued his excellent play Saturday and added an ace to his recent resume. Wilcox, who shot a 59 two weeks ago at the Utah Championship, made a hole-in-one at the par-3, eighth hole. He hit a 7-iron on the 202-yard hole. It was the first ace this week and also the first one at No. 8 since James Hahn did it in 2010.
• Russell Knox’s second-round 59 drew several comparisons to the other players who have posted 59s on Tour.
- Four of the five (Notah Begay, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore and Knox) shot 59 in the second round.
- Four of the five had similar first-round scores: Gore, 71; Begay, 70; Dunakey, 69; Knox, 69.
• Here’s how the four second-round 59 players fared in their follow-up rounds:
Begay – 74 in R3 of the 1998 Dominion Open
Dunakey – 67 in R3 of the 1998 Miami Valley Open
Gore – 68 in R3 of the 2005 Cox Classic
Knox – 68 in R3 of the 2013 Albertsons Boise Open (bogey-free)
• Michael Connell moved into contention with his 10-under 61 that put him at 16-under. Connell birdied three of his final four holes Friday and made the cut on the number. Now he has a chance to win. It’s been nearly nine years since a player made the cut on the number and then went on to win:
-- Justin Bolli, 2004 Chattanooga Classic - Bolli posted rounds of 72-67 to join 59 others at 5-under 137, seven shots back of Matthew Jones and Jason Caron. Bolli moved all the way up to a tie for fifth with a third-round 63 (9-under). He was three shots back of the leader, Chris Anderson. Bolli carded a final-round 65 to get to 21-under and win by one shot over Anderson and Johnson Wagner.
-- Tripp Isenhour, 2000 Mississippi Gulf Coast Open - Isenhour posted rounds of 70-75 to join 56 others at 1-over 145, seven strokes back of co-leaders Mark Hensby and Donnie Hammond. Isenhour’s course-record 64 moved him to 7-under for the tournament and gave him a 1-shot lead over Don Reese and John Elliott. Isenhour then carded a 70 in the final round and won by 2 over Elliott.
• Troy Merritt and Philip Pettitt both holed second shots for eagles at the 462-yard, 11th hole. In the first 23 years of this event, there had been only two eagles at that hole -- the first one came in 1992 and the second was in 2011.
• Steve Wheatcroft, Spencer Levin and Kelly Kraft all made eagle-2s at the downhill, 359-yard, 10th hole. There have been only 10 eagles total at that hole in the previous 23 years and never more than two in any single year. Strangely, all of the eagles on No. 10 have come in odd-numbered years:
1991 – 1 1993 – 1 1995 – 1 2003 – 2 2005 – 1 2007 – 1
2009 – 1 2011 – 2 2013 – 3 through 54 holes
• Course statistics for the week:
• The Web.com Tour will head east to suburban Pittsburgh for next week’s stop – the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., August 1-4.