Pettitt leads Albertsons Boise Open by one over Knox after third round

Phillip Pettitt Jr.
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Phillip Pettitt leads the Albertsons Boise Open after a career-low 63 boosted him to 18-under 195.
Joe Chemycz Tour Staff

Series: Tour

Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 | 11:21 p.m.

BOISE, Idaho -- Scoring took another beating at the Albertsons Boise Open on Saturday, but this time it came from the players in the back of the pack, not the leaders. At the end of the day, Tennessee’s Philip Pettitt Jr. stood at the top of a crowded leaderboard that has 20 players within four shots of the lead.

Saturday’s scoring average of 68.067 broke the tournament record of 68.129, which was established in Friday’s second round.

Pettitt fired a career-low 63 and moved to 18-under 195, one stroke better than 36-hole leader Russell Knox, who followed up a record-setting 59 on Friday with a bogey-free, 3-under 68 Saturday at Hillcrest Country Club.

“I played good, especially coming out the box with a birdie at one and then two more at 2 and 3,” Pettitt said. “I putted great. I missed one at 17 but that was the only opportunity that I missed.”

Texan Michael Connell started the early battering of the par-71 layout with a 10-under 61 that put him at 16 under. Connell birdied three of his final four holes Friday just to make the 36-hole cut on the number. He was in the third group off the tee Saturday and took advantage of the perfect scoring conditions to vault to the top. He remained there for most of the day but was eventually joined by several others.

Will Wilcox, who shot a 59 two weeks ago, posted a 9-under 62 – which included an ace – to join Connell in a tie for third. Kevin Tway (63), Will MacKenzie (65), Chad Collins (67) and Bronson La’Cassie (68) are also just two shots back heading into Sunday’s finale.

“Everyone is bunched up now and tomorrow is going to be a shootout,” said Knox, who rolled in short birdie putts at Nos. 16 and 17 to gain a spot in the final pairing. “I’m in perfect position. They’re all going to find it difficult tomorrow to back up their good rounds.”

Pettitt, a second-year Tour member, has the edge despite the fact that he’s never been the outright leader after any single round in his previous 48 career starts on tour.

“I won three times in 2011 and it’s a different stage. I get that but winning’s winning,” said Pettitt, whose career-best tour finish is a tie for third. “I’ve done it before. I’ve got to remember that feeling that I had there.”

Pettitt had missed the cut in five of his last six starts and wouldn’t have been among the betting favorites this week.

“Numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they take a while to kick in,” he said. “I’ve played significantly better the last few weeks. I knew it was a matter of time but there are only five weeks left (in the regular season) so I knew I needed to make a move somewhere along the line and I was hoping it was sooner rather than later.”

Knox played solid, patient golf after the hoopla that surrounded his day Friday – which included an evening interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He birdied his second hole of the day and then settled for 13 consecutive pars before a late run.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge, how can it not be? I had to regroup,” he said. “I was still close to the lead. I had a bunch of 10-, 15- and 20-footers for birdie that went in yesterday but not today. I was expecting it, just like I expect them to go in tomorrow.”

Third-Round Notes:

--Phillip Pettitt’s round of 63 is his career-low on the Tour. He previously posted a pair of 64s – a 7-under 64 in the second round of the 2012 Cox Classic and an 8-under 64 in the second round of the 2012 Price Cutter Charity Championship.

--Pettitt has never held or shared a lead after any single round on the Tour. This is his 49th career start. His previous best standing after 54 holes was a T4 spot at the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship.

--Pettitt is in search of his first career win on tour. His best finish to date is a tie for third at the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenel near Washington, D.C.

--Pettitt has made the cut in just five of 16 starts this year. He had missed the cut in five of his previous six starts. His best finish is a tie for 12th at the Chile Classic.

--Michael Connell’s 61 bettered his previous career low by three strokes. The Mississippi State grad shot a 64 in the third round of the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. His previous low on the Tour was 65, which he had done four times.

--Will Wilcox, who shot a 59 two weeks ago at the Utah Championship, made a hole-in-one at the 202-yard, par-3 eighth hole with a 7-iron. It was the first ace this week and also the first one at No. 8 since James Hahn did it in 2010.

--Troy Merritt and Philip Pettitt both holed second shots for eagles at the 462-yard, 11th hole. In the first 23 years of this event, there had been only two eagles at that hole – the first one came in 1992 and the second was in 2011.

--Steve Wheatcroft, Spencer Levin and Kelly Kraft all made eagle-2s at the downhill, 359-yard 10th hole. There have been only 10 eagles total at that hole in the previous 23 years and never more than two in any single year. Strangely, all of the eagles on No. 10 have come in odd-numbered years.

--The Tour will head east to suburban Pittsburgh for next week’s stop – the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa.