Five late birdies help Blixt keep lead at Nationwide Albertsons Boise Open

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PGA.com news services

Series: Web.com Tour

Published: Saturday, September 17, 2011 | 1:03 a.m.

Sweden’s Jonas Blixt birdied his final five holes Friday afternoon to move back atop the leaderboard at the Albertsons Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour. Blixt added a 5-under 66 to his opening round of 62 and stands at 14 under par, two shots in front of 2008 champion Chris Tidland (65).

Boise State grad Troy Merritt carded a 3-under 68 in the morning and his 11-under 131 total looked like it would hold up during the day, until Tidland, then Blixt, raced past him as darkness closed in.

ALBERTSONS BOISE OPEN

The Albertsons Boise Open has been a stalwart on the Nationwide Tour since its inception in 1990.

Billy Hurley birdied his last hole for a 7-under 64 late in the day to tie Merritt for third place. Billy Horshel tossed in a bogey-free 65 for a 10-under total, good for solo fifth heading into the weekend.

Six players at knotted together at 9-under 133 and share sixth place at the Hillcrest Country Club.

Blixt held the first-round lead after his 9-under effort, though the round wasn’t completed until Friday morning because of a two-hour rain delay Thursday afternoon.

By the time he hit the first tee shot, he was trailing Merritt, the local favorite who finished early and then headed out to catch the Boise State-Toledo football game.

Blixt opened his round with a pair of birdies to reach 11 under par, but then hit a horrendous second shot on the par-5 third hole.

“It was 50 yards right of where I wanted to go,” he said. “Right in the water. It was awful. Things didn’t feel very good after that.”

Blixt made bogey, played the next eight holes in 2 over par and was well down the list at minus-8.

“I felt like I played all right on the front, I felt like I hit two bad shots,” he added. “I just didn’t have good yardages.”

Blixt, currently No. 14 on the money list, then caught fire late with six birdies on his final seven holes, but it was the par he made at No. 13 that turned things around for the third-year pro from Florida State.

“I blew the first one eight or nine feet past and then made the one coming back,” he said. “From then on out, everything seemed to work out perfectly for me.”

Blixt got a favorable bounce out of a tree on the 293-yard 15th hole. His tee shot disappeared into the trees left of the green and rather than have it kick farther left and into a horrible spot, the ball went right into a greenside bunker and set up an easy up-and-down for a birdie.

“It was just kind of a grind in the beginning of the day,” he said after finishing with eight consecutive one-putt greens. “Sometimes you just have to wait for your turn to get hot. I just wish we had nine more holes to play.”

Fortunately, nobody had more holes to play. Thursday’s first-ever weather suspension pushed the limit of playing time on Friday and only a hurried effort by the late groups allowed everyone to finish the round in time.

Second-Round Notes:

--A total of 60 players returned to the course Friday morning to complete Round 1. Afternoon storms on Thursday prevented the round from finishing on time. The second round began at 8:30 a.m. and was completed at 7:55 p.m. Third-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee. Times will run from 7:51 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.

--A total of 76 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 3-under 139.

--Josh Broadaway (67-66-133/-9) is the only player in the field without a bogey thus far. 

--Leader Jonas Blixt is first in putts per round with an average of 23.50 (47 total).

--Paul Claxton leads the field in both driving accuracy (24 of 28/85.71%) and greens in regulation (33 of 36/91.7%). He has posted scores of 67-67 and is tied for 12th place at 8 under par. Claxton had 31 putts in Round 1 and 33 putts in Round 2 (64 total).

--Ted Tryba had an eagle for the second straight day, though neither has come on a par 5. Tryba holed his second shot on the par-4 sixth. In Thursday’s opener, he made a hole-in-one at the par-3 13th hole.

--Long distance driving champion Jamie Sadlowski had a pair of eagles – one at the par-5 second hole and the other at the par-4 14th hole. Sadlowski played his final eight holes in 5 under par for a 66 and a 3-under 139 total. He rolled in a birdie putt from off the green on his final hole of the day to reach the projected cut line of -3.

--Jeff Brehaut had back-to-back eagles on Nos. 2 and 3, both par 5s. Brehaut is the third player in tournament history to accomplish the feat. Chris Tidland did it in Round 2 in 2004 and D.A. Points did it in Round 3 in 2007.

--Chris Smith had a hole-in-one at the short, par-3 17th hole. He used a gap wedge from 122 yards.