Stallings, Thompson take 54-hole lead at Albertsons Boise Open
September 17, 2016
By Nick Parker, PGATOUR.COM
- September 17, 2016
- Scott Stallings, who had just one top-10 on TOUR this season, can secure his TOUR card for the 2016-17 season with a decent final round. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
BOISE, Idaho – PGA TOUR winners Michael Thompson and Scott Stallings emerged Saturday with a one-shot lead through 54 holes at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco after signing for a pair of 16-under 197s.
Thompson entered the day six shots back of Andrew “Beef” Johnston but tied the round of the day with a 7-under 64 to surge into a share of the lead entering the final round, while Stallings birdied the last for a 5-under 66 that was enough to join Thompson at the top.
“I was hitting my mid and short irons really well, my wedges really well, and gave myself a lot of chances for birdie inside 15 feet,” said Thompson, who got his TOUR card a year ago with an eighth place finish on the Web.com Tour Finals money list. “Especially on the back nine, I made basically every putt inside 15 feet except for the last one. You can’t complain when that happens, and I’ve been struggling with my putting, so this is really nice to see and it gives me some confidence going forward.”
In a round in which Thompson only needed 25 putts, the 2013 Honda Classic winner came out of the gates hot with birdies on his first two holes. He got a bonus three holes later when he chipped in from over the green for birdie at the fifth to keep his round rolling.
Thompson’s lone bogey of the day came with a three-putt at the eighth, but the former Alabama golfer got one back with the putter with a 70-foot bomb for a birdie at the par-4 11th. After dunking it in the greenside bunker on each of the next two holes, the former Alabama golfer holed a six-footer and 15-footer for par on back-to-back holes to maintain the momentum, and then drained a putt from off the fringe for birdie at the 15th.
Thompson’s drive got away from him left at the par-5 16th, forcing him to pitch out instead of attack the reachable hole in two, but he holed another tester with a 15-footer for his last birdie of the day.
Michael Thompson's third shot sets up birdie at Albertsons Boise Open
“I had a really good range session yesterday and got some things figured out with my swing, and just kind of what I’m thinking over the ball,” Thompson said. “I really was disciplined today in trusting that and it paid off. I made a lot of key putts as well, but for the most part my ball striking is getting to where I want it to be.”
Playing in the final group with Johnston and Miguel Angel Carballo, Stallings, a three-time TOUR winner, got off to a hot start with six birdies in his first 11 holes, but a bogey at the par-4 12th and pars at the drivable 15th and reachable par-5 16th derailed what Stallings felt like could have been an even lower number.
“Today was I felt like a really, really good one that kind of got away from me,” Stallings said. “I got off to a really good start, didn’t play the par-5s particularly well, but I kind of managed my game as good as I could. I drove it in rough a few times on the scoring holes, and then kind of got some weird breaks. But it was nice to finish with a birdie.”
Stallings, the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open winner, narrowly missed securing his TOUR card during the season with a 128th-place finish in the FedExCup. After a T6 at the DAP Championship a week ago, Stallings, who had just one top-10 on TOUR this season, can secure his TOUR card for the 2016-17 season with a decent final round.
“It’s not over. Long day tomorrow, but looking forward to the opportunity,” Stallings said. “But it’s nice to put some good golf together. I know that I’ve been trending for a while and the game started feeling really, really good my last nine holes at Travelers. I missed the cut, but I played awesome the last nine. Didn’t miss a shot, and it started kind of coming around. I’ve been spending a lot of time fine tuning to try to get a little sharper around the greens.”
Johnston entered the day with a two-shot lead over Stallings and Carballo, but had his worst putting round of the week with 30 putts on his way to a 1-under 70 that included a three-putt bogey at the last to post 14-under. Despite five birdies on the day, the Englishman and fan favorite failed to get up and down three out of six times on his way to four bogeys for the day.
“It was slightly frustrating today,” Johnston said. “I just felt that I did everything very average today. I didn’t get off to the best start. Made a good birdie on the second hole, but made a bad bogey on the third hole. Sort of hung in there well, but then it was very disappointing to bogey the last. Still in a decent position and need to go have a good one tomorrow.”
Despite a round that Johnson described as “bang average,” the affable 27-year-old still just sits two shots back of the co-leaders in solo fourth and is in line to secure the TOUR card that he came to the States for the Web.com Tour Finals for with a top-eight finish Sunday.
“It’d mean a lot, man, a lot,” Johnston said. “Again, it’s something you dream of as a kid, and you want to go out and play the best tournaments in the world against the best players in the world. It’s a massive step if I can get it.”
Andrew Johnston drives the par-4 15th hole at Albertsons Boise Open