The Albertsons Boise Open’s good deed

The Albertsons Boise Open’s good deed If you missed Rachel Roberts’ story on golfer Chad Pfeifer in the Statesman last week, Google it and read it. Then you’ll know why Albertsons granted Pfeifer a sponsor’s exemption into the Albertsons Boise Open next month. He is also known as Corporal Chad Pfeifer, an Army veteran from Caldwell who lost his left leg below the knee to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Part of Pfeifer’s rehab was learning the game of golf, and he’s done that with gusto. He was planning on playing the Monday qualifier for the Boise Open—now he’ll slip that and make history as the first-ever amputee to play a Web.com Tour event. And he’s earned it. Example: Cpl. Pfeifer was invited to play in last July’s American Century Championship, the celebrity tournament at Lake Tahoe. He was in a field of 80 pro athletes and entertainers competing for $600,000 in prize money, and he finished tied for fifth place. This is a cool deal.

The other Albertsons sponsor’s exemption is going to Graysen Huff, the Cole Valley Christian graduate who played golf for Eagle High. Huff, the reigning Pacific Northwest Golf Association Junior Player of Year and Idaho Junior Player of the Year, is coming off a win at the AJGA Ping Phoenix Junior. He has competed in the Australian Amateur, British Boys Amateur, and the Junior PGA Championship. Following the Boise Open next month, the Auburn-bound Huff will play in the U.S. Junior Amateur.

No locals made it through U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying yesterday. Boise State alum Troy Merritt played in Springfield, OH, and came up three shots short of the Open next week at Chambers Bay near Tacoma. Merritt produced rounds of 70 and 67 at Springfield Country Club. Fellow former Bronco Ty Travis had a shot in Cle Elum, WA, after a first-round 71 yesterday. But a 74 in the afternoon round left him six strokes away from qualifying. Rathdrum’s Derek Bayley had rounds of 79 and 71 at Cle Elum. Graham DeLaet—thought to be entered in Columbus, OH—wasn’t. A tweet from DeLaet indicated he was watching the Stanley Cup Finals “with my new bud, Lars.”

Tanner Vallejo has to like preseason accolades when they come from this particular website. In NFL.com’s “15 for ’15” series comes “College football’s most physical players” as viewed by Mike Huguenin. No. 8 is Vallejo, the junior linebacker from Boise State. Writes Huguenin, “The skinny: Vallejo was a productive (100 tackles) big-play guy (16.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, an interception return for a TD) for the Broncos last season, his first as a full-time starter. He is a physical presence against the run. Vallejo has excellent instincts and is known for his on-field intensity—well, that and his big hits.” Vallejo was one of only two players on the list from a Group of 5 conference.

The original story revolved around the Las Vegas Bowl matchup possibly being left in limbo less than a week before the game in December. But the issue is bigger than that, and it’s become a hot button surrounding Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson. Now that Navy is joining the American Athletic Conference, the Midshipmen have a clear path to a New Year’s Six bowl if they’re the best Group of 5 team. Problem is, the Army-Navy game will remain December 12, six days after the bowl matchups are to be announced. Let’s say this was last year—and Navy happened to be undefeated before playing Army. A win over the Cadets could have nudged Boise State out of the Fiesta Bowl and into the Las Vegas Bowl, but we wouldn’t have known until six days before the Vegas game. Thompson is not happy about the possibility. He’s not being unpatriotic, he’s just being practical.

Thompson isn’t getting much sympathy from the national media. But JJ Stankevitz of NBCSports.com points out that “Navy seems intent on keeping its game with Army in December, and would be willing to miss out on a New Year’s Six bid to keep it scheduled when it is. ‘(Moving it) would show that we’ve realigned our priorities in a way that doesn’t complement our mission,’ Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said earlier this year. ‘We can’t do it. It’s something that’s that special.’” But just wait and see what happens the first time Navy turns down a chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl—and its compadres in the AAC lose out on all that money.

With the Boise Hawks now a Colorado Rockies affiliate, we don’t really know what to make of the Major League Draft that started last night. The Rockies had the No. 3 overall selection and picked Brendan Rodgers, a shortstop out of Lake Mary, FL. MLB.com prospect expert Jim Callis’ capsule on Rodgers: “He’s the No. 1 player on MLB Pipeline’s draft board and has the highest ceiling in the draft. Rodgers has a chance to stay at shortstop and has unusual power for the position. He can give you five solid tools across the board and he has to be considered the heir apparent to Troy Tulowitzki.” Any chance we’ll see Rodgers in a Hawks uniform?

As the years went by during the Cubs era that just ended, more and more first-round picks were sent to Boise. Some have been pretty productive major leaguers, like Josh Donaldson, first in Oakland and now in Toronto, and Andrew Cashner in San Diego. But there was a big finish. Two years ago the Hawks got the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Kris Bryant, now playing the part of “The Natural” at Wrigley Field. Last year Boise got to see the No. 4 overall pick, Kyle Schwarber, who tore it up in the first homestand of the season and was quickly promoted. The difference: Bryant and Schwarber were college players. Rodgers is a high schooler, and as such is less likely to be sent to Boise. At least early.

Boise State basketball games (and all other NCAA Division I games, for that matter) will have a different dynamic next season. All those rules changes proposed by the NCAA? They were basically instituted across the board yesterday. Men’s teams will play with a 30-second shot clock, a four-foot restricted-area arc and with four timeouts instead of five (with no more than three carrying over from the first to the second half). The shot clock shouldn’t affect the Broncos much, but the expanded arc around the basket will mean fewer charges taken by guys like Anthony Drmic. Women’s basketball fans will now see four 10-minutes quarters instead of two 20-minute halfs.

This Day In Sports…June 9, 1973:

Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes by a staggering 31 lengths to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years. To this day, the thoroughbred holds the records for all three Triple Crown races. Secretariat was considered the No. 2 racehorse of the 20th century behind legendary Man o’ War. There would be two more Triple Crown winners in the 1970’s (Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978), but no more until American Pharoah pulled off the great feat Saturday at the Belmont.

(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.)