Getting the best of Hillcrest again

Martin Piller is the chasee, with 154 chasers looking up at him at the Albertsons Boise Open. Martin Piller is the chasee, with 154 chasers looking up at him after the first round of the 26th annual Albertsons Boise Open. The 29-year-old Texas A&M grad fired a 10-under-61 yesterday on a Hillcrest Country Club course rendered vulnerable by Wednesday evening’s torrential downpour. Still, Piller goes into today’s round with a three-shot lead over Eric Barnes and Brady Schnell. All the while, Piller’s wife, Gerina, was carding a one-over 71 in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Great sidebar. The 61 was the lowest round of Piller’s career and matched the lowest first round number on the Tour this season. “I always seem to play really good on this golf course,” said Piller. “You never know if a 10-under is out there.” It was pretty simple—no bogeys and 10 birdies

A win at Hillcrest Country Club would change Piller’s world. A $144,000 payday on Sunday would push him well into “The 25” and give him a shot at a return to the PGA Tour next season. It was a Tour victory in 2010 that launched Piller onto the big circuit in 2011, where he missed 16 of 23 cuts and had one top 25 finish. Piller’s kind of in Tyler Aldridge’s boat—he’s a more seasoned golfer now and would relish another chance on the PGA Tour.

Speaking of Aldridge, he was weakened by an overnight illness yesterday but still managed a four-under 67 on the first day. The Nampa resident has some work to do today to make the cut but has some momentum after finishing his round with three straight birdies. Chad Pfeifer, the retired Army corporal and Iraq war veteran who plays on a prosthetic leg, turned in a four-over 75 and is out of the running for the weekend. But, despite the disappointment, Pfeifer’s soaking up every moment of his sponsor-exemption opportunity on the Tour. Eagle’s Graysen Huff would need a Piller-type round today to make the cut on his sponsor exemption. Huff shot an even-par 71 and is tied for 116th.

Today is supposed to be Ryan Finley’s pretrial hearing date as he answers to charges of minor consumption and obstructing officers following his arrest in late April. These misdemeanor things seldom go to trial, so Finley’s status for the Washington game September 4 should become clear before long. I said before (just me talkin’) that it doesn’t sound like Boise State’s sophomore quarterback will be suspended. Summer is a good time to pay penance anyway, especially with Bronco strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman in charge. Let’s just say Finley is probably acutely aware of how hot it was leading into the 4th of July.

Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins led the USA team into the first round of play last night at the IFAF Senior World Football Championship in Canton, OH. The Americans opened against Mexico, winning 30-6. One of Hawkins’ players is cornerback Bryan Douglas, who finished his four-year Bronco career last December in the Fiesta Bowl. Douglas made 72 career tackles with four interceptions—plus a 100-yard touchdown on a kickoff return at San Diego State in 2013. Hawkins’ son, Cody, quarterbacked the USA squad to the title in the last World Championship in 2011 at Innsbruck, Austria. This year’s event was supposed to be played in Stockholm, but the Swedish capitol bowed out, and the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame came to the rescue.

It’s full speed ahead in Fort Collins for Colorado State’s new on-campus football stadium, and Boise State will be able to check out construction progress when it goes down there in October. CSU appears to be doing it right, with the Coloradoan reporting that changes have been made to ensure the $220 million facility stays on budget. The university significantly reduced the number of chairback seats and eliminated two of six planned elevators to upper-deck serve club seating to offset a newly-planned $1.19 million field-level club seating area. CSU officials say that feature will be the first of its kind in college football, placing fans in an elevated area behind the Rams’ bench and on both sides of the walkway that the team will use to enter and exit the playing field.

Boise State forward Nick Duncan keeps popping the threes when he gets the chance at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. Duncan scored nine points each game for Australia in an 82-69 win over Finland Wednesday and a 74-67 loss to Lithuania yesterday. All of the Bronco junior’s scoring came on three-pointers. Duncan and the Uniroos did not make the quarterfinals out of pool play—they’ll take on Turkey later today as they battle for places Nos. 9-16.

The website lists Derrick Marks as a point guard for Derthona in Tortona, Italy. But it’s not clear whether the former Boise State star is there yet. We do know that Marks isn’t on the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster for the Las Vegas Summer League that begins today. One-time Idaho Stampede standout Pierre Jackson is, though. Jackson tore up the D-League in 2013-14, averaging 29.1 points and scoring a league-record 58 points against the Texas Legends on Valentine’s Day that year. He was poised for an NBA shot until he tore his Achilles tendon in his first summer league game a year ago. The Sixers waived him in September but paid him $400,000, even though they weren’t obligated to. Jackson was back in Philly’s minicamp this summer, but he didn’t scrimmage Monday and still might not be ready to play in Vegas.

The reeling Boise Hawks returned home to Memorial Stadium last night, only to lose another one in familiar fashion. The Hawks led Everett 2-0 going into the fifth inning after Kevin Padlo socked a two-run homer and upped his Northwest League-leading RBI total to 21. Then the Aquasox plated seven unanswered runs over the final five innings and won going away, 7-2. Boise has now lost four in a row and eight of its last 10.

The 29th annual Twilight Criterium takes over Downtown Boise tomorrow night with another star-studded field. Defending champion Ken Hanson is back, to be challenged by Hilton Clarke, who had won four of the previous six Twilight titles. Other prominent challengers include Karl Menzies and Ryan Aitcheson. The defending champ is back on the women’s side, too. Erica Allers can expect a test from rival Tina Pic.

And back to golf—Troy Merritt opened with an even-par 71 yesterday at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL, and is in danger of missing the cut. Vallivue grad and current Texas Tech golfer Gabby Barker easily won her first two tests in match play yesterday in the Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur at BanBury. She’ll play in the quarterfinals this morning against BYU golfer Brooklyn Hocker, a former star at Skyline High in Idaho Falls. And the 2015 Idaho Men’s Amateur tees off today at Pinecrest in Idaho Falls. There will be a new champion this year, as last year’s winner, Eagle’s Steve Tarkon, is not in the field.

This Day In Sports…July 10, 1999:

With a Rose Bowl crowd of 90,185 rooting them on, the U.S. women’s soccer team produces one of the great moments in American female athletics. After the final went scoreless in regulation, the U.S. defeated China 5-4 on penalty kicks to win the FIFA World Cup. It was the Americans’ second World Cup crown, but the first to attract massive attention across the country. The game-winning kick—and one of the most replayed highlights in history—came from Brandi Chastain, who promptly ripped off her jersey, revealing what became soccer’s most famous sports bra ever.

(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.)