It's Albertsons Boise Open week, and with it comes the good and the bad regarding its new place on the calendar. The tournament moved to July last year when the PGA Tour moved its season forward to start in October. That gives the Albertsons Boise Open its own place in the headlines, as there's no blue turf factor to contend with. It's the No. 1 sporting event this week in Boise. The downside is the heat—Boise's weather in September is glorious, and the event enjoyed days mostly in the 70's and 80's in the 23 years it spent in that month. The fact that the high yesterday was 104 degrees is not lost on anybody. With that said, the extended forecast has it at 96 Thursday before it drops to 92 Friday and 90 Saturday, finishing at 93 Sunday. That's certainly survivable.
Who has momentum going into the 25th annual Albertsons Boise Open? That would be former UNLV golfer Andres Gonzalez, who led from start to finish at the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship. Gonzalez opened the tournament in Sandy with a career-best nine-under 62 and won by four strokes yesterday over Adam Crawford. The victory moved Gonzalez from No. 28 to No. 7 on the Web.com money list, virtually assuring him of a PGA Tour card next season. He won $112,500 at the $625,000 event (the Albertsons Boise Open purse is $800,000). Gonzalez is in the field at Hillcrest Country Club this week.
Troy Merritt appears to be in a groove, just in time for the stretch that will decide if he retains his PGA Tour card for 2014-15. The former Boise State star tied for 20th yesterday at the John Deere Classic, 10 strokes behind winner Brian Harman. Merritt played all four rounds under par, going 12-under for the tournament and finishing strong yesterday with a three-under 68. He earned $56,713, bringing his season winnings to $835,963. Merritt also moved into the top 100 in the FedExCup standings—right at No. 100. He was No. 107 last week. Attention now returns to fellow former Broncos Graham DeLaet, who plays in his first British Open this week.
Meridian's Haley Nist led wire-to-wire at the 2014 Idaho Women's Amateur, and she got stronger as she went. Nist, the Bishop Kelly grad who is headed to Oregon State this fall, closed with a three-under 68 yesterday at BanBury, finishing even-par for the tournament and winning by nine strokes over Buhl's Sierra Harr. Defending champion Gabby Barker of Caldwell was third, 13 shots off the pace.
Those who pick Boise State to—at the very least—make it to the Mountain West championship game cite strength in the secondary as a key component. That means the Broncos will have to improve on a 2013 season that saw 249 passing yards allowed per game and 17 total touchdowns through the air (compared to 169 yards and four total TDs two years ago). There are believers on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List committee, as Boise State senior safety Jeremy Ioane and junior cornerback Donte Deayon both made the list for the award that honors the nation's best defensive back. BSU is one of only five schools with two players mentioned for the Thorpe Award.
An undrafted free agent released after rookie minicamp doesn't usually get a second chance in the NFL, but former Boise State wide receiver Aaron Burks gets to give it a go now with the Indianapolis Colts. Burks was released by Tampa Bay a month ago but was picked up Friday by the Colts, who had a roster spot open up when they cut wideout LaVon Brazill after he was suspended by the NFL for the 2014 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Brazill starred in college at Ohio University and played his final game on the blue turf in the Bobcats' 24-23 win over Utah State in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He had eight catches for 108 yards and a pivotal 44-yard touchdown catch with 3:45 left in the game.
The Boise Hawks' quick trip to Eugene resulted in their fourth straight series win. The Hawks took two out of three from the Emeralds, capped by a 6-2 victory yesterday at P.K. Park. Boise put it away in the fourth inning, batting around and scoring four runs. The highlight was a safety squeeze bunt by Alex Tomasovich that brought in the go-ahead run. The Hawks now return home to close out the first half of the Northwest League season with an eight-game homestand, beginning tonight against Spokane. The Indians have been the hottest team in the league—they come in at 22-8.
Former Boise Hawk Josh Donaldson will be swinging for the fences without apology tonight as he participates as a late entry in Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby. Donaldson has hit 20 homers through the first 95 games of Oakland's season—he is not seen as a favorite at Target Field in Minneapolis. But ex-Hawk Garret Anderson wasn't given much of a chance when he was selected as an Angel in 2003, and he won the thing. Donaldson is just four home runs away from his career high of 24 set last year.
Boise State's Yaiza Rodriguez Ortego comes home with some invaluable international experience after Spain's run at the FIBA U20 women's basketball championships ended yesterday in Udine, Italy. The Spaniards fell 47-42 to France in overtime in the title game, with Rodriguez Ortego scoring eight points and making three steals in 27 minutes of floor time. In Spain's nine games, she averaged 4.1 points and 21.3 minutes.
The Twilight Criterium fields have become increasingly elite since the event began in 1987, and that was evident in the 28th renewal of the extravaganza Saturday night in downtown Boise. The men's winner was Ken Hanson, who came into Boise No. 4 in USA Cycling's National Criterium Calender rankings. The women's title went to Erica Allar, currently the leader in the women's NCC rankings. The thousands that lined the streets were undeterred by the residual heat of a 100-degree day (there's that weather again).
This Day In Sports…July 14, 1972:
A major league first, as the plate umpire and catcher are brothers in a game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. Veteran Tom Haller was the Tigers' backstop, and long-time American League ump Bill Haller was calling balls and strikes. The brothers kept their family ties separate, and the Royals won, 1-0.
(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.)