Curtis Luck’s missed tee time extends James Nicholas’ season
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Last man in, Nicholas opens Albertsons Boise Open in 3-under 68
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
BOISE, Idaho – Curtis Luck missed his tee time Thursday. In his mind, it was 7:55 a.m.; it was actually 10 minutes earlier.
A brain blip, albeit an untimely one. Luck was on the range at Hillcrest Country Club, preparing for the opening round of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron, the first of four Korn Ferry Tour Finals events.
“At the end of the day, it’s nobody’s fault but mine,” Luck said. “Probably just what happens when you’re on week seven (in a row); a bit tired and misread tee time.”
Luck was at peace with his mistake; at No. 59 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, he’ll have three more events to crack the top 30 and earn a PGA TOUR return. His season will carry on.
“For some people, this would be a really, really big issue, because everybody out here is trying to play for a PGA TOUR card,” Luck said. “I’m not taking it that badly, to be honest … My theory is Columbus (the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, which he won in 2020) is where I’m looking to do the most damage … it is what it is.”
The beneficiary of Luck’s miscue: James Nicholas, who flew cross-country from New York City to Boise on Wednesday, after moving to first alternate on Tuesday evening. Nicholas had been competing in the Met Open, but he withdrew after the opening round to take his shot at a Korn Ferry Tour Finals tee time.
The Korn Ferry Tour released the following statement regarding Luck’s disqualification:
“Curtis Luck missed his first-round tee time (7:45 a.m.) and did not arrive within the five additional minutes allotted under Rule 5.3a, and was subsequently disqualified. Luck did not meet any of the three exceptions within Rule 5.3a.”
Various members of the Korn Ferry Tour rules committee searched for both Luck and Nicholas once Luck had not joined his playing partners on the tee.
Nicholas shot 3-under 68 on Thursday, a strong effort considering the late notice and cross-country travel.
Luck was in no hurry to leave Boise; he said he would hang around for a bit before the upcoming two weeks off. He’ll take a little vacation, then reboot for the last three Finals events: the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance.
The top 75 after the Nationwide will secure full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour membership; Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champ, figures he is in a good spot to surpass that benchmark.
Nicholas had figured he was out of chances, despite finishing T16 at last week’s Magnit Championship to move to No. 173 on the Points List. With the Albertsons Boise Open featuring a 156-player field, filled directly off the season-long Points List, it would require 17 players to not compete in order for Nicholas to get in the field.
The reimagined Korn Ferry Tour Finals, which are debuting this year, feature progressive field reductions after each event. There are also increased points available, with 600 going to the winner (compared to 500 in the Regular Season).
The second Finals event, the Simmons Bank Open, will feature a 144-player field, filled directly off the Points List.
“I’m the last man in, Mr. Irrelevant as some would call it,” Nicholas said. “There’s (still) a chance, and that’s all you really need in this game.”
Nicholas arrived at Hillcrest CC at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Tee times began at 7:05 a.m., and he wanted to be ready for any time that might have an opening. Luck was slated to play in the day’s fifth group off No. 1 alongside Shad Tuten and Sung Kang.
Nicholas did well just to arrive in Idaho. His 6:59 a.m. flight from New York LaGuardia on Wednesday morning was delayed, leading to an anticipated 14-minute connection in Minneapolis. His airline rebooked the trip mid-flight, and he was rescheduled for an overnight connection in Seattle – no guarantee of arriving in time for a potential Thursday morning tee time.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis, he raced to his connection gate and was the beneficiary of a fellow passenger’s boarding pass not scanning, which kept the gate open just long enough for him to make the flight to Boise. His chances remained alive – if a spot in the field opened.
After getting the call Thursday morning, Nicholas rushed to the tee at the 405-yard opening hole and hit a 4-iron just to get the ball in play – “I was staring at white stakes down the left” – and left himself more into the green than his game plan had anticipated for.
Nicholas figures a top-15 finish in Boise is a solid goal to strive for, giving him a chance to play the Simmons Bank after the Korn Ferry Tour takes two weeks off. He had 410 unanswered text messages, as well.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.