Putnam leads six players by a single shot in Boise

September 11, 2008
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

BOISE, Idaho -- Michael Putnam fired a 6-under-par 65 Thursday to take the first-round lead in the $725,000 Alberstons Boise Open, the 25th stop on the 2008 Nationwide Tour schedule.

Inside the Numbers
Putnam thru 18 Holes
Category Total Rank
Eagles 0 N/A
Birdies 6 T5
Pars 12 T40
Bogeys 0 N/A
Double Bogeys 0 N/A
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 57.1% T63
Driving Distance 321.5 yds. 23
Greens in Regulation 66.7% T61
Putts per Round 24.0 T2
Putts per GIR 1.583 T17
Sand Saves 100.0% T1

Putnam put together a bogey-free effort at Hillcrest Country Club and leads Garrett Willis, Arjun Atwal, Bill Lunde, Jon Turcott, Matt Bettencourt and Monday qualifier Kurt Barnes by one stroke. Two-time winner Scott Piercy heads a list of 12 players at 4-under 67, two back.

Turcott and Barnes both had a share of the lead, but each bogeyed the uphill, 399-yard 18th hole to drop one behind Putnam, who was in the first group off the 10th tee in the morning.

Putnam, a native of Tacoma, Wash., admitted it's nice that the 30-event Tour is finally out of the eastern time zone.

"It feels a little more like a home tournament," said the Pepperdine University graduate. "I've got my parents here and they'll be there next week (Eugene, Ore.), too. It seems we've been on the East Coast all year."

The year hasn't been kind to the 25-year-old, who stands No. 54 on the money list after making only 13 cuts in 21 starts. His best finish this year is a tie for sixth at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational two months ago.

"I need a win. I need a win, bad. I'm not going to lie," said Putnam, who will have only five more events after this week to join The 25 leading money winners who will move onto the PGA TOUR next year. "It's nice to get off to a good start. I'm sure four of these rounds will do it. I'm just looking to play solid."

Putnam wasn't perfect, hitting only 12 of 18 greens in regulation, but he was solid with his short game, which included a chip-in birdie over a bunker on the par-4 sixth hole.

"I got a little lucky there," he said. "It hit the pin and went straight down in the hole. It was probably only going six or seven feet past the hole."

Putnam also benefited from a steady putting round which saw him make a half-dozen putts between 8 and 12 feet.

"A couple of those were for par, which kept my round going," he said. "For me, that's exciting if I can make some of those."

Willis was in the first group off the first tee in the morning wave and also suffered a late bogey, giving Putnam the outright lead. Willis is a conditional member of the PGA TOUR this year and admitted that his focus is on next week's TOUR stop, the Viking Classic in Jackson, Miss.

"I'm not really concerned with how I play this week," said Willis, who is No. 197 on the PGA TOUR money list after 10 starts. "I'm just trying to get some reps and feel comfortable with my driver and my golf game. I need to play well next week to get into some of the Fall Finish events. When they cut the fields to 132, it's really going to hurt my chances to get into a lot (of tournaments)."

First-Round News & Notes: Bob Sowards had a hole-in-one at the par-3 eighth hole. Sowards used a 6-iron to ace the 208-yard hole. It is the 23rd hole-in-one on the Nationwide Tour this year and the 14th in tournament history. ... Thursday's scoring average was 70.487, the highest opening-round scoring average in this event since 2004 (71.308). ... Boise State University golf coach Kevin Burton and former BSU standout Graham De Leat played with Aussie Kurt Barnes and each shot a 1-over-par 72.