David Kocher cards final-round 59 at Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
BOISE, Idaho – The soundtrack of this week’s Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron was composed in the sky, as the United States Air Force Thunderbirds flew in the nearby Gowen Thunder Airshow, with the planes’ twists and turns causing players and fans to stop in their tracks, in awe.
Meanwhile, David Kocher put on a show in the final round at Hillcrest Country Club, to the tune of 12-under 59, punctuated with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-4 18th hole – a hole he said he had played “terribly” through the years, including irons into the water or trees. Not Sunday, as he ripped a driver and flipped a wedge to 15 feet. He drained the downhiller to join golf’s pantheon of sub-60 performers, becoming the 10th player to break 60 on the Korn Ferry Tour.
David Kocher cards improbable eagle after finding the rough at Albertsons Boise Open
Kocher had never shot better than 62, he said, before this week. He bettered that by three strokes – at the first event of the reimagined Korn Ferry Tour Finals, no less – surging to a runner-up finish in Boise at 26 under, two strokes back of winner Chan Kim.
It’s a historic round – 10 birdies and an eagle – and not only is Kocher etched in history, but his career fortunes are radically changed for the better. The University of Maryland alum moves from No. 82 to No. 43 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, cementing his spot in the top 75 (to assure full Korn Ferry Tour status in 2024) and moving into legitimate consideration for his first TOUR card. The top 30 after the four-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals will earn 2024 PGA TOUR membership; the Albertsons Boise Open marked the first event of the reimagined Finals.
“I got goosebumps,” said Kocher’s caddie Parker Dudley after the putt dropped on No. 18. “You dream about shooting 59 or being part of one. I’m at a loss for words … it was unbelievable. He never got too high or too low. One shot at a time.”
Kocher began Sunday in a tie for 13th place, seven strokes back of Kim’s 54-hole lead. After beginning the week with a neck injury – he tweaked it stepping out of the shower on Tuesday – he was grateful to just be in this position to fight for a high finish. “Whether top 10 or top 15, it’s hard out here,” said Kocher’s mom Rachel, who flew in Thursday evening. It’s a natural week for a family trip, as Kocher’s younger brother Daniel lives in Boise, having moved 3,000 miles from the family home in Charlotte to chase a career as a TV producer, not unlike his brother’s globetrotting dream chase of professional golf.
David Kocher's interview after shooting 59 at Albertsons Boise Open
Kocher made six consecutive birdies on the front nine Sunday, Nos. 2-7, and he added a birdie at the ninth to turn in 29. He added a birdie at No. 11 before heating up on the final four holes; a 10-foot birdie at No. 15, a 20-foot eagle at the short par-5 16th, and a two-putt par at the par-3 17th before the fateful 18th hole.
“It was straight downhill, so I didn’t need to worry about speed,” Kocher said of his putt for 59. “I just canned it … I can’t believe it right now. It was awesome. It was really cool.”
Kocher missed five of six cuts into the week, but the one weekend trip was a T5 at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna, which stirred confidence into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. A recent tweak on the greens helped too – “just getting my hands lower, and getting my speed control a little bit better,” he said. With three eagles and 23 birdies this week, it’s safe to say the putter was hot, as his caddie Dudley attested afterward.
The Kocher family enjoyed some Mexican food Saturday evening, and the vibes were good into the final round. Kocher answered the bell, to say the least.
“Whatever you’re passionate about, go for it,” said Daniel Kocher, when asked what his brother has taught him. “He took what he loves the most, in golf, and made it a career. Seeing that drive from him has allowed me to come across the country from North Carolina, and chase what I love.”
“It’s so hard out here, and I’m just super excited for him,” added mom Rachel. “It’s a long road, and a grind sometimes, but I’m just so proud. I couldn’t be prouder than I am.”
Kocher’s sister Julia is training to run this fall’s New York City Marathon; it’s an athletic family across the board. Kocher knows the Korn Ferry Tour season can be a marathon of sorts, as he weathers the inevitable ups and downs in chase of his first TOUR card.
Sunday, though? He sprinted through the finish line.
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.