Go low (easy for me to say)

How does PGATour.com view the Hillcrest Country Club layout for the Albertsons Boise Open? How does PGATour.com view the Hillcrest Country Club layout for the Albertsons Boise Open? As “a par-71, 6,807-yard layout that is known to yield birdies by the bushel.” It sure did last year. Steve Wheatcroft, now a PGA Tour golfer, won the event in 2014 after finishing a whopping 24-under, but Steve Alker was also 24-under, so it took a playoff to win it. The cut line last July was at six-under, so you’ll see a lot of aggressive golf this week. Here’s some housekeeping from this year’s 156-player field at Boise’s stop on the Web.com Tour. There are 42 Web.com event winners here, including Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge, and six PGA Tour winners. Eight of the top 10 on the Web.com money list will test Hillcrest. There are also 14 different countries represented.

Kevin Prise of PGATour.com has 10 players to watch at this week’s tournament. One of them is not Aldridge, and I don’t know why. Aldridge, the one-time Boise State golfer, was muddling along in early May after missing two straight Web.com cuts. Then he went on his four-week run of top 15 finishes, highlighted by his first professional win a month ago at the Greater Dallas Open. Aldridge took last week off after tying for 34th at the Air Capital Classic in Wichita. His final-day 73 in the Wichita event broke a streak of 15 straight rounds at or below par. Aldridge is now No. 8 in “The 25” on the Web.com Tour and is poised for a PGA Tour card next season.

A return to the big circuit would represent a full-circle journey for Aldridge. He won the 2002 PGA Junior Championship when he was 17. A playoff loss at the Idaho Open three years later gave him the confidence that he might have the game to play someday on the PGA Tour. And he did in 2009. Aldridge played 17 events, making only three cuts and earning just $24,370. Now he’s a veteran golfer—ready for the jump again. We’ll see how Aldridge handles the big expectations that come with his return home today at Hillcrest Country Club.

Among those 10 players to watch are the top two money-winners on the Web.com Tour. Patton Kizzire has won $254,699, exactly $12,000 more than Peter Malnati. The consistent Kizzire is returning to action after taking a rare week off. In 13 starts this season, he has placed outside the top 36 only twice. Kizzire is an Auburn product who may be taking Eagle’s Graysen Huff under his wing this week. Malnati, a Missouri grad, is a seventh-year pro coming off a tie for 16th in Nova Scotia—despite a triple-bogey to end the third round Saturday. Also keep an eye on Jamie Lovemark, who tied for 18th at the U.S. Open three weeks ago at Chambers Bay. Lovemark tied for 15th in Boise last July, and he tees off with Aldridge at 7:20 this morning. Two other notable tee times: Huff at 2:00 and Vallivue High grad and amputee Chad Pfeifer at 2:10.

Troy Merritt looks to break out of a slump as he begins play today at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL. The Boise State product has missed five of his last seven cuts and has earned less than $35,000 since finishing third in the RBC Heritage in April. Merritt is an example of a guy who is jockeying between the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Web.com Tour Finals with a month and a half left in the regular season. He’s No. 105 in FedEx standings, trying to stay at No. 125 or better to avoid fighting for his PGA Tour card in the Web.com Finals series (which adds the Albertsons Boise Open next year).

Fellow former Bronco Graham DeLaet is taking this week off as he gears up for the British Open next week. He was planning to anyway, though. DeLaet and his wife Ruby—and their foundation—are hosting the “Graham Slam” today in Saskatoon, SK. The DeLaets are partnering with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan for “an event full of personal touch that encompasses live music, entertainment, world-class cuisine, warm prairie hospitality, and enjoyable golf.” Last year’s Graham Slam raised almost $400,000.

One more note from Bryan Harsin’s appearance on Stewart Mandel’s “The Audible” this week at FoxSports.com. Harsin opened up—as much as he’s going to—about Chris Petersen’s return to the blue turf as the head coach of the Washington Huskies September 4. “I worked with him and a lot of guys on that staff, and we won a lot of football games together,” said Harsin. “We had a great experience. He’s done a lot for Boise State—you know that.” That’s as good as it gets. What Harsin professes to be most excited about is opening the season at home for the first time since the memorable win over Oregon in 2009. Since then the Broncos have played in mostly made-for-TV events against Virginia Tech, Georgia, Michigan State, UW and Ole Miss.

These watch lists confuse me. I saw Boise State’s Marcus Henry named to the list for the Rimington Award that goes to the nation’s best center back on May 22. But the committee apparently made it official yesterday. Oh well, it’s another excuse to talk about Henry, the anchor of the Bronco offensive line. The All-Mountain West senior has made 25 starts in 39 appearances over the last two seasons. Henry is one of three centers from the Mountain West on the 63-member Rimington watch list.

This time the Boise Hawks got the misery out of the way early, as Angel Lezama allowed six runs over the first four innings en route to a 9-0 loss at Spokane. The Indians tacked on three runs in the bottom of the eighth for good measure. The Hawks were held to six singles—it was the first time Boise has been shut out this year. The Hawks drop to 7-14 on the season as they head home to begin a five-game series against the Everett Aquasox tonight at Memorial Stadium.

This Day In Sports…July 9, 2002:

Baseball’s All-Star Game controversially ends in a 7-7 tie when both teams run out of available pitchers. The game was played in Milwaukee, coincidentally the home of commissioner Bud Selig. The crowd booed loudly when Selig decided in the middle of the 11th inning that if the National League didn’t score in the bottom of the frame the game would be declared a tie. The ruckus grew even louder when the Mariners’ Freddy Garcia then retired the side in order. With the All-Star Game in danger of becoming totally irrelevant, it was decided that beginning in 2003, the winner of the Midsummer Classic would be awarded home field advantage in the World Series.

(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.)