Down time at home in Meridian last week seems to have paid off for Troy Merritt. Down time at home in Meridian last week seems to have paid off for Troy Merritt. The former Boise State star, who came tantalizingly close to his first PGA Tour victory three weeks ago at the RBC Heritage, is contending again after the first round of the The Players Championship. Merritt is one shot off the pace after firing a four-under 68 yesterday at TPC Sawgrass. Three golfers are tied for the lead: David Hearn, Charley Hoffman and Hideki Matsuyama. Merritt’s round featured six birdies and two bogeys, including one on the 18th hole. He says he was helped by conditions early on, though. “It was just a comfortable morning,” Merritt told PGATour.com. “The greens were real quick. If you got off 15, 18, 20 feet, you had a chance to make (putts).”
Merritt has two top-10 finishes—at the RBC Heritage and Valspar Championship—in his last five tournaments. He finished 71st at the Valero Texas Open and just missed the cut in the other two events. “It’s as consistent as I’ve played in my career for this long a stretch,” Merritt said yesterday. Fellow former Bronco Graham DeLaet needs a super second round to make the cut today at The Players—he was three-over at 75 yesterday, torpedoed by a triple-bogey on No. 7. DeLaet has made only one cut since finishing eighth at the Northern Trust Open in February.
Former Boise State star Jay Ajayi is No. 5 on Bryan Fischer’s list of “2015 NFL Draft sliders teams will one day regret passing on” at NFL.com. Writes Fischer: “Nobody knows how his knee will hold up long-term from the abuse it will take in the pros, but this is a complete player who can help a team from Day 1. Ajayi does everything well and will benefit from splitting carries early on as he gets acclimated to the NFL. Being able to run between the tackles, block, and catch passes will be traits teams will regret passing on.” Ajayi signed with the Miami Dolphins yesterday, inking a four-year, $2.5 million contract.
Grant Hedrick gets his shot this weekend at his rookie minicamp tryout in Denver. The former Boise State quarterback will likely get high marks for mechanics, decision-making, running ability, football IQ and accuracy (he led the nation in completion percentage last season at 70.8 percent). The one high mark Hedrick won’t get—and it’ll be among the first ones recorded—is one he can’t do anything about. His height is six feet even. Hedrick will wear jersey No. 5 during his tryout.
Did Everett Golson not hit it off with former Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. at Notre Dame? Who knows? But it couldn’t have been a marriage made in heaven. Sanford worked with the senior quarterback in spring football, but Golson announced yesterday he’s going to graduate from Notre Dame and play for another school this season. Sanford will be collaborating with presumed new starter Malik Zaire from here on out. Wild speculation has begun on possible Golson destinations, and two of the teams are on the Broncos’ schedule this year: Washington and Virginia. They’re among a list of 14 schools at Yardbarker.com.
Washington will be missing one of its biggest playmakers when it visits the blue turf September 4. The Huskies have announced that speedster John Ross III will miss the season due to an unspecified leg injury suffered during spring football. Where will he be missed the most? Take your pick. Ross was an honorable mention all-Pac-12 selection as a return specialist last season, but he also started three games at wide receiver and four at cornerback. He only had 17 catches last year, but four of them went for touchdowns, and he averaged 21 yards per reception.
Coach Greg Patton isn’t used to being a Cinderella, but he’s looking for another slipper as the Boise State men’s tennis team opens play in the NCAA Tournament today against South Florida in Blacksburg, VA. This is the fourth straight trip to nationals and the 10th in last 11 years for the Broncos during Patton’s second tour of duty with them. Boise State earned five more NCAA Tournament berths during Patton’s first stint. This year, the light switched on at the end of the season for the Broncos, leading to an upset run to a fourth straight Mountain West championship. The winner of today’s match will face the winner of the tilt between host Virginia Tech and East Tennessee State. That second round contest is set for tomorrow.
Other campus notes: Boise State golfer Genevieve Ling is 21st after the first round of the NCAA East Regional Championships in Raleigh, NC. Ling carded a two-over 74 yesterday and is only two strokes out of the top 10. And the curtain is closing on the Boise State women’s softball season. A 16-3 rout at the hands of Utah State at Dona Larsen Park yesterday saw the Broncos’ record drop to 12-40. BSU and the Aggies play again today and tomorrow, with the Broncos’ four seniors to be honored after the finale. Included is fifth-year senior Devon Bridges, who owns 10 Boise State career records, topped by the home run mark.
John Lackey, now 36 years old, had an extra spring in his step after leading St. Louis to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs yesterday. In a masterful 7 2/3 innings, the former Boise Hawk allowed one run on five hits and fanned 10 batters, reaching double-digits in strikeouts for the 18th time in his career. Lackey, who pitched for the Hawks back in 1999, also helped himself with a surprising RBI double. He’s 6-for-67 all-time at the plate.
Guard Brandon Fields was the only Idaho Stampede player selected to participate in the D-League’s 6th Annual Elite Minicamp, which opens on Monday in Chicago. It’s a two-day scouting event with with the initial roster listing 42 of the league’s top prospects set to audition. The minicamp is the primary vehicle for D-Leaguers to land NBA summer league roster spots and training camp invitations. Fields, the former Nevada star, was acquired by the Stamps in the late-February trade that sent Kevin Murphy to Delaware. In 15 games with Idaho, Fields averaged 15 points and 5.4 assists per game.
This Day In Sports…May 8, 2012:
Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton turns in one the greatest hitting performances ever. Hamilton became the first player in almost nine years—and only the 16th in major league history—to hit four home runs in a game. Not only that, all four of them were two-run shots in a 10-3 win over Baltimore. Hamilton’s other at-bat produced a double, giving him a 5-for-5 night. He had 18 total bases in the game, an American League record. After two seasons with the L.A. Angels, Hamilton is now a Ranger again.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)