Pinckney, Diaz and Bae lead Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco
September 15, 2018
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- September 15, 2018
- (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
BOISE, Idaho – On an overcast day that at one point saw an 11-way tie for first, Scott Pinckney, Robert Diaz and Sangmoon Bae topped the pack to lead after the third round at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. Pinckney, Diaz and Bae posted 14-under 199s after 54 holes at Hillcrest Country Club.
Pinckney birdied five of his last seven holes Saturday – including a 12-footer for birdie on No. 18 – to grab the low round of the day at 8-under 63. His 63 marks the lowest round this week.
“It was awesome [to finish with a birdie],” Pinckney said. “It was nice to get it up on that top shelf [on 18]. It was a quick putt so I just wanted to get the right speed and it happened to go in for a nice finish.”
The 29-year-old missed the majority of the 2017 season with a dehydrated disc in his back. He returned to the Web.com Tour for the 2018 season where he has posted three top-10s, including a runner-up at the Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth.
“It was hard sleeping; I couldn’t bend down [in 2017],” Pinckney said. “When I had to sneeze, I tried to find something to brace myself. It just was not fun…My confidence was hanging by a thread, but I knew I had the game to compete on the PGA TOUR and out here so I just kept grinding and kept working hard. I focused so much on my health and body that it’s starting to pay off.”
Pinckney, an Arizona State University alum, expressed excitement at the chance to return to the PGA TOUR on Sunday. Pinckney played on TOUR in 2015 and 2016 after graduating from the Web.com Tour in 2014. During his time on TOUR, he earned three top-10 finishes including a career-best runner-up finish at the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson.
“It’s going to be fun tomorrow,” Pinckney said. “I’m putting well so it’s just one shot at a time and just go out and enjoy myself. If anything happens and I don’t get my card back, then I’ve got five months to get even more healthy and then a full year out here on the Web.com Tour. I can’t hurt my position, so I’m just going to go out and have fun.”
Diaz birdied Nos. 15, 16 and 17 to regain a share of the lead down the stretch. He followed that up by sinking a 25-footer for par on No. 18 to finish at 14-under.
“The last putt was very important,” Diaz said. “Obviously every shot counts out here and more towards the 25 at the end, but I think that last putt made me more calm looking towards tomorrow. It’s going to be a grind and I know it’s going to be a challenge. This course holds a lot of birdies and I think it’s going to be a shootout tomorrow.”
Diaz, a University of South Carolina Aiken alum, competed on the Web.com Tour from 2014-17 before earning the 25th and final PGA TOUR card of the Regular Season last year at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft-Heinz. He has mainly competed on the PGA TOUR in 2018 before returning for the Web.com Tour Finals to try and regain PGA TOUR status for next season.
“It would mean the world to win tomorrow,” Diaz said. “I’ve played this Tour for four years and then one year on the PGA TOUR, and I’ve lost in one playoff [on the Web.com Tour]. Obviously [not having] that win still bites me a little bit…The goal coming into the Finals was to give me four chances to lock my card up,” Diaz said. “Obviously having a chance to win changes a little bit of the perspective tomorrow, but the goal is still to get into the top 25 [on the Finals money list] towards the end.”
After sharing the lead through 36 holes, Bae endured an up-and-down front nine before ramping it up down the stretch. The South Korean native played his final six holes in 5-under – including an eagle at No. 16 – to surge up the leaderboard.
“I hit a 120% drive that hole [No. 16] and then I hit a perfect 5-iron on my second shot,” Bae said. “Then I hit a pretty solid, probably 5-foot putt. Those were pretty awesome three shots there.”
Bae competed on the PGA TOUR during the 2017-18 season after two years of mandatory military service in South Korea. At $38,156, Bae sits 12th on the Finals money list and is the closest player who has yet to earn TOUR status for the 2018-19 season. The top-11 earners have all locked up their PGA TOUR cards in the first two Finals events. The 32-year-old is a two-time PGA TOUR champion.
“It has been a while [since leading], throughout my military service and this year,” Bae said. “I am really happy to see my name on the leaderboard.”
Max Homa birdied two of his last three to climb to solo fourth at 13-under 200, while Kyle Jones posted a 7-under 64 to round out the top five at 12-under 201 entering the final round.