Archives for 2018

Jeff Roth wins the 2018 Club Car Senior Open

   BATTLE CREEK –Congratulations to our 2018 Club Car Senior Open Champion Jeff Roth from Boyne Highlands. Jeff backed up his opening round of  68 on Tuesday with another 68 on Wednesday. This put him at (-8) for the tournament, good for a 3 shot victory over Brian Cairns from the Fox Hills Learning Center, Tom Werkmeister from Grandville and Randy Lewis (a) from Alma, all at (-5).

With 14 players within 4 shots of the lead heading into the final round on Wednesday we knew it would be a shootout. Tom jumped out to the early lead with birdies on the first two holes and a (-2 ) under par front nine. After birdies at #11 and #13 Tom held a 2 shot advantage with 5 holes to play. That is when Jeff made his charge with birdies at #14, #15 and #16 as Tom bogeyed both #16 and #18.  With two nice closing pars Jeff secured his first Club Car Senior Open title.

In the Super Senior Division it was amateur Michael Sequite from Marshall winning by one shot over Mike Fedewa (a) from Canton. Sequite finished at 144 ,even par for the tournament.

We would like to thank our host site Bedford Valley Golf Club along with our sponsor US Golf Cars for making this such a great event.

For final results click HERE

A field of 118 decorated golfers, including PGA Professionals, top amateurs, twelve Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members and fifteen past champions, participated in the  2018 Club Car Senior Open here at Bedford Valley Golf Club.

  12 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members were in the  field including PGA Professionals Bob Ackerman of West Bloomfield and  Bob Ackerman Golf, Brian Cairns from the Fox Hills Learning Center, Randy Erskine of Lake Orion, Lynn Janson of Hastings Country Club, Jack Seltzer of Linden and the Jack Seltzer Golf Academy, Dave Kendall of Saline and the Kendall Golf Academy, Jeff Roth of Boyne Highlands and amateurs Steve Maddalena of Jackson, Randy Lewis of Alma, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield and Bill Zylstra of Dearborn Heights. Topping out the field of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members is Tom Werkmeister from Grandville, who will compete in his first Senior Open after turning 50 in March.

  Jeff joins the list of past champs with Kendall and Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson, who are former two-time champions. Janson, Cairns and  Erskine also have Senior Open titles on their rich resumes. The other past champions in the field are Steve Wells of Dowagiac and Hampshire CC, Denis Husse of Fenton and Tyrone Hills, Bob Ackerman of West Bloomfield and Bob Ackerman Golf Academy, Jim Deiters of Midland Country Club Ron English of Charlotte, Larry Clark of Traverse City, Ian Harris of Bloomfield, Chuck Pohl of Lansing , Pete Doerr of Coldwater and Frank McAuliffe from Meadowbrook Country Club.

The field played 36 holes of stroke play for a purse of $15,700. This was the 37th edition of the state championship for seniors (age 50-and-over), and includes a 65-and-over super senior division.

   Bedford Valley Golf Club is part of the Gull Lake View collection of six courses near Battle Creek and Kalamazoo including the new Stoatin Brae course. Bedford Valley was a 2008-2009 Best Places to Play selection by Golf Digest and in 2010 was named the Michigan Golf Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association.

   It was designed in 1965 by William Mitchell and purchased by the Scott Family of Gull Lake View in 1988. The classic parkland design is known locally as “The Big Course” and features big greens, bunkers and fairways lined with large oak trees.

  Bedford Valley has hosted several of the state’s top tournaments including the Michigan Open, multiple Michigan Senior Opens, the Michigan Maxfli PGA Junior, the Michigan Publinx State Match Play and the NCAA Division III National Championship.

  Click HERE for more info and scores as the players finish

  The tournament director is Justin Phillips of the Michigan PGA Section office. He can be reached at jphillips@michiganpga.com or 517-641-7421.

Michigan Junior PGA Championship

Michigan PGA Junior Championship

This week was exciting for Junior Golf! The Michigan PGA Junior Championship hosted at Bedford Valley Golf Club gives juniors all over the state of Michigan a chance to compete for two spots in the National Junior PGA Championship. The Girls National Championship will be contested at Kearney Hill Golf Links I on July 9th-12th.  The Boys National Championship will be contested at Valhalla on July 31st -August 3rd.

This event brings in the top golfers from all over the state of Michigan. The divisions consisted of Boys 12 & Under, Boys-13-15, Boys 16-18, Girls 12 & Under; Girls 13-15, Girls 16-18 The 12 & Under division played 18 holes while the other divisions battled it out for 36 holes for two spots per gender. The Overall Champion (13-18) would be crowned after 36 holes and moving on to the Junior PGA Championship.

 After day one we had some amazing scores from the overall boys division (13-18) the competitors Bradley Smithson (17) had a strong start to take lead at 68 (-4). Not far from the lead we had Patrick Deardorff (17) and Nick Krueger (17) tied for second place with a 69 (-3). There were 13 players under par after day one.

In the girls Overall division (13-18) we had Lilia Henkel (15) go low with a 71 (-1) and not far from the lead Shannon Kennedy (15) card a 73 (+1) which would put her in second place.  

Anika Dy(16), who qualified for the National Junior PGA Championship in 2017, carded a 74 (+2) on day one which left her in contention for qualifying again. Anika battled her way to victory by shooting  75(+3) for a two day total of 149 (+5) to be crowned this year’s Michigan Girls Junior PGA Champion. Day two posed an interesting challenge for Shannon Kennedy, during the night the Kennedy’s car was stolen from their hotel, the car contained many valuables including Shannon’s clubs. Luckily Shannon’s tee time wasn’t until later in the afternoon which gave her enough time to piece together a set of clubs. Shannon’s mom ended up being able to find clubs Shannon was decently familiar with and drive them down to Battle Creek. Shannon, was a little shaken by the experience, but wouldn’t let it distract her form her goal, qualifying for the National Junior PGA Championship. Shannon fought her way around the course, with new clubs,  on day 2 to card a 77 (+5) which would put her in second place overall. Shannon undoubtedly faced the most adversity on day two, and fought to keep her spot in second place, and qualify to play in the National Junior PGA Championship later this month.   

Our Overall Boys victor rose with a two day total of 139 (-5) Bradley Smithson, who was just coming off of an incredible win at our Adidas State Pro-Am with his father, PGA Professional Gary Smithson. Bradley Smithson was able to hang onto his lead after day one to be crowned the Michigan Boys Junior PGA Champion. Charlie DeLong (17) shot a consistent 70, 70 for a two day total of 140 (-4) which put him in second place overall, and earned him a qualifying stop at the National Junior PGA Championship.   

The boys & girls 12& under divisions play 18 holes on day one and are not competing for a spot in the National Championship. The Michigan Boys 12 & under champion Eric Shen showed a great day of golf, winning the division by one stroke and carding an 81 (+9) over his competitor Vibhav Alokam who shot an 82 (+10) The girls 12& under Champion, Mia Melendez shot 84 (+12) and lead the competition by 6 strokes over Amiya Gibson who shot 90 (+18).   

The Division winners consisted of:

Boys Overall: Bradley Smithson – 139 (-5)

Runner Up: Charlie DeLong-140 (-4)

Click here for the Michigan Boys Junior PGA Championship results

Boys 12 & Under

  1. Eric Shen – 81 (+9)
  2. Vibhav Alokam 82 (+10)

Boys 13-15

  1. Tyler Gillespie – 151 (+7)
  2. Evan McDermott-152 (+8)

Boys 16-18

  1. Bradley Smithson – 139 (-5)
  2. Runner Up: Charlie DeLong -140 (-4)

 

Girls Overall: Anika Dy- 149 (+5)

Runner Up: Shannon Kennedy-150 (+6)

Click here for the Michigan Girls Junior PGA Championship results

Girls 12 & Under

  1. Mia Melendez- 84 (+12)
  2. Amiyah Gibson – 90 (+18)

Girls 13-15

  1. Shannon Kennedy- 150 (+6)
  2. Ariel Chang- 151 (+7)

Girls 16-18

  1. Anika Dy – 149 (+5)
  2. Danielle Staskowski – 159 (+15)

 

 

 

DeWitt’s Liz Nagel Comes From Behind to Win the Michigan Women’s Open Championship

  THOMPSONVILLE – Liz Nagel of DeWitt has been coming to Crystal Mountain Resort for several years, first as a youngster watching and then for the last 10 years playing and often seeing fellow former Michigan State Spartans win.

   The 26-year-old fourth-year professional and former Spartan dramatically joined the club Wednesday by shooting a 4-under 68 and coming from five shots behind to win by three in the 25th Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship on the Mountain Ridge course.

  “This means everything to me,” she said after accepting the $6,000 winner’s check and Crystal trophy. “This is my first professional win and to get it here means everything. It’s the perfect place to get that first pro win, and hopefully more will come after it.”

  Nagel’s closing 68 gave her a 9-under 207. She started the day at 5-under and six off the lead of Lexi Harkins of Crystal Lake, Ill.

  Harkins, a recent University of Wisconsin graduate, shot 77 to close and ended up in a three-way tie at 6-under 209 for second place with recent Michigan State graduate Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn., and Honolulu’s Marissa Chow, who each shot 72. It was Chow’s second consecutive year finishing second.

  Hannah Wood of Highlands Ranch, Colo., shot 70 for 212 and fifth place, and Scotland’s Rachael Taylor, who now lives in Cary, N.C., shot 72 for 213. The low amateur in the tournament was current Michigan State player Yurika Tanida of Japan, who shot 73 for 218 and a tie for 17th.

  Nagel, who has been on the LPGA as well as Symetra tours, is not a scoreboard watcher, and she was busy filling out a tax form to receive her check from the tournament in the scoring tent when the final group was on 18. She is due in the Cincinnati area for a Symetra Tour pro-am round at 8 a.m. Thursday, and she was preparing to depart before she was told she might be in a playoff.

  “Then I was shocked when all of a sudden everybody is telling me I won,” she said. “I couldn’t help but cry and I’m not a crier. I’m just really happy about this. I’m bummed my parents were not here, but I already talked to my dad and it means a lot to me. It’s just wonderful. It means the world to me.”

   Nagel said she did not look at the scoreboard at 17. She just knew she had some birdies coming in and she was trying to post as low a score as possible. She played the first six holes of the day 2-over, but made six birdies over the final 11 holes and three birdies in the last four holes including birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.

  “It was done with my putting,” she said and credited her caddie and boyfriend, Paul Zanardo, with helping her read the greens.

  “The greens were in the best shape I’ve ever seen them. It was tough out there. I focused on myself and finished birdie-birdie. I knew if I had a chance it was going to take a few more coming down the back nine. I still can’t believe I won by three. Getting up and down from the bunker at 18 for birdie is hard any time, but if I would have been thinking about winning or myself, it would have been 20 times harder. Turns out, it was one of the best up and downs of my life.”

  Burnham, one of the trio in second, said there was tension in the final threesome of her, Harkins and Chow through the day.

  “Honestly, I didn’t have my game today really, and I left a lot of putts out there and missed some greens,” she said. “It was a struggle. It was stressful for all three of us all the way around.”

  Michigan State golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll played in the tournament and tied for 42nd. She coached Nagel, and the champion said it meant a lot that her coach was there to see her win.

  “It’s great to see coach tear up,” she said, “especially after everything she had done for me. It means so much that all these Spartans are here. I’ve been inspired by Spartans coming here and I hope I inspired some of the younger ones today.”

For complete scores click HERE

CRYSTAL CLEAR: Crystal Lake (Ill.) Golfer Leads Michigan Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain

  THOMPSONVILLE – Lexi Harkins of Crystal Lake, Ill., playing in just her second professional tournament, is clear of the field by five shots heading into the final round of the 25th Michigan Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Mountain Resort.

   The 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin shot a 7-under 65 on the Mountain Ridge course Tuesday to check in at 11-under 133 through two rounds of the 54-hole championship.

  “I’m really happy about it, and excited,” she said. “I mean, this is what we always dream of doing. I didn’t necessarily see this coming, but I played well yesterday and I felt good today so I just kept it going.”

  Recent Michigan State graduate Sarah Burnham, likewise a new professional and winner of the recent Connecticut Women’s Open, shot a second consecutive 69 for 6-under and a tie for second with 70-shooting Marissa Chow, a Symetra Tour player from Honolulu who finished second here a year ago.

   Liz Nagel of DeWitt, a Symetra Tour player who led after the first round, shot 72 for 139, six shots back, and was the low player from the state of Michigan in fourth place.

  “I just didn’t put well,” she said. “The greens were faster than the first round when I was comfortable, and I never got the speed right today.”

  Laura Kueny, the 2011 champion from Whitehall, also shot 72 and was at 140, seven shots off the lead.

  The 36-hole cut fell at 13-over 157 and 71 players moved on to the final round in the $40,000, 54-hole championship. The winner, if a professional, will take home a check of $6,000 in the tournament sponsored by Crystal Mountain and Coke. The final group will tee off at 9:39 a.m. Wednesday. The public is welcome.

  Harkins said she can’t remember the last time she had the lead heading into the final round of a tournament. Seconds were here best finish in four years of college golf, including the first three years at North Carolina and her senior year at Wisconsin.

  “I don’t know what to expect,” she said. “I just want to keep the confidence level the same. The last two days have been great, so there is no reason to change.”

  Harkins powered her bogey-free round with five birdies and an eagle-3 at the par 5 No. 6 hole via holing out a 65-yard shot with her 60-degree wedge.

  “It was going right at the pin and I saw it disappear,” she said. “I didn’t know it went in, but then I heard everybody cheering. It was cool. I can’t remember the last time I did that.”

  Harkins last win was the 2014 Illinois Women’s Amateur Championship just after she graduated from high school. Her college experience included being a regular in the North Carolina and Wisconsin lineups for four years, and playing in the NCAA Championships.

  “I’ve played well in big tournaments,” she said. “I just didn’t get any wins.”

  She entered the Michigan Open when she heard from other young pros that the Michigan Women’s Open had a strong field that included Symetra Tour players.

  “I played in the Symetra Tour event in Decatur (Ill.) and just want to play against good players this summer,” she said. “Everybody said this one always has a good field and that it’s a good tournament.”


SCORES:  For complete scores click HERE

Home Sweet Home: DeWitt’s Liz Nagel Shoots 67 to Lead Michigan Women’s Open

  THOMPSONVILLE – DeWitt’s Liz Nagel always feels at home anywhere in Michigan.

 The 26-year-old Symetra Tour player birdied two of the last three holes coming home on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort Monday to shoot 5-under 67 and lead through the first round of the 25th Michigan Women’s Open Championship.

  “One of these years it’s got to fall into place for me here,” said the former Michigan State golfer. “We came from Harris (Symetra Tour event in Upper Peninsula) last week, and that’s always fun because my grandparents retired up there. It feels like home. Anywhere in Michigan feels like home really, and I love it here. This is a couple of great weeks for me and I like the way I’m playing.”

  Laura Kueny of Whitehall, another former Spartan and the 2011 Women’s Open champion who announced her retirement from tour golf here last year, shot 68, and was tied for second with last year’s runner-up, Marissa Chow, a Symetra Tour player from Honolulu, and Alexandra Harkins of Crystal Lake, Ill., another Symetra Tour player.

  Recent Michigan State graduate Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn., Scotland’s Rachael Taylor, a former North Carolina State golfer, and Kelly Grassel of Chesterton, Ind., a former University of Wisconsin golfer, shot 69. Burnham won her pro debut a few weeks ago in the Connecticut Women’s Open.

  Current Michigan State player Yurika Tanida of Japan shot 70, and is low amateur in the field at this point.

  Three Michigan golfers were part of the group at 71 — Sarah Hoffman of Saline, Christine Meier of Rochester Hills and amateur Sarah Shipley of Hastings, who plays at the University of Kentucky.

  The field of 96 golfers, which includes women from 19 states and seven countries, plays a second round Tuesday. A cut will be made following play to the low 70 scores and ties for the final round in the 54-hole, $40,000 state championship.

  Nagel birdied the par 4 16th and reached the par 5 18th in two shots to earn a two-putt birdie to finish in the lead.

  “At 16 I hit it in there about nine feet and had a little left to right slider that broke about three cups,” she said. “That was a good pin. That hole is usually a good par, but I will take the birdie. I’m putting well and playing well and this course is probably in the best shape it has been ever since I’ve been coming here. The greens are rolling great.”

  Nagel had LPGA status after graduating from Michigan State four years ago, but has since been on the Symetra Tour trying to earn her way back.

  “The gap between the Symetra and the LPGA in talent is getting smaller, too,” she said. “It is a good place for me to be right now. I feel like it’s making me better.”

  She said her goal for the rest of the week is to continue playing the way she has been playing.

  “I’ve been putting well and I want to keep feeling comfortable on the greens,” she said. “At the end of the week if I’m in the lead it will be awesome. I want to win. I’m here to win, but I’ve learned focusing on winning is not how you win. I’m focusing on myself and nobody else.”

  Kueny, who is 30 and recently became engaged to be married to Joey Smith of Greensboro, N.C., has played in only a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in terms of competitive golf since last season.

    “I haven’t been playing competitively so it’s hard to get into that mind-set again,” she said after a three-putt bogey on 18 to close her round. “I keep telling myself you know you are not doing this for a living any longer. Just go out there and enjoy it. I had my dad on the bag and took advantage of the good misses I had and got some putts to fall.”

For complete scores click HERE

Crystal Mountain Hosts 25th Michigan Women’s Open Starting Monday

  THOMPSONVILLE – Defending champion Lindsey McPherson of Flushing has stopped playing tour golf, but she is returning to play in the 25th Michigan Women’s Open Championship starting Monday on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort.

  “I decided to stop playing full-time and start a career away from golf,” said McPherson, who will be playing in the championship for the ninth time since age 16.

   “I will be at the Women’s Open to defend though. Being the defending champion means a lot to me. That tournament has always been my favorite tournament for a lot of reasons.”

  Crystal Mountain is hosting the championship for the 16th consecutive time, and McPherson is one of four former champions in the field.

  Suzy Green-Roebuck of Ann Arbor, the three-time champion who last year was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, is returning, as are two-time champion and Hall of Fame member Elaine Crosby and 2011 champion Laura Kueny, who announced at last year’s tournament that she was leaving tour golf.

  The 25th edition of the championship, which does not require Michigan residency, will feature an international field of 98 golfers, including professionals and amateurs representing multiple states and countries.

  The field will play 54 holes of stroke play over three days to determine the champion with a cut after the first two rounds to the low 70 scorers and ties. The professionals will play for a share of a $40,000 purse.

  The championship is administered by the Michigan Section of the PGA of America, and the field typically includes the top professionals and amateurs with Michigan ties as well as LPGA Symetra Tour players and mini-tour professionals from around the world.

   In addition to the former champions, many of Michigan’s top golfers are also lined up to play, including 2014 Michigan Amateur champion Jennifer Elsholz of Grand Rapids, who is now a professional, and last summer’s Golf Association of Michigan champion, Kerrigan Parks of Flushing.

   Liz Nagel of DeWitt, Flint’s Shasta Averyhardt, who now lives in Florida, Saline’s Sarah Hoffman and Rochester’s Christine Meier, who are making the rounds on the professional circuit, are entered, as are the Shipley sisters from Hastings — Gabrielle, who is a professional, and Sarah, an amateur who plays at the University of Kentucky.

  Michigan State women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik, another recent inductee into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, is also in the field as are 15 of her current, former or incoming Spartan golfers.

  McPherson, one of the former Spartans, made a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to win the title a year ago. She shot a closing 3-under 69 for 8-under 208 and a one-shot win over Honolulu professional Marissa Chow.

    Crystal Mountain Resort was established in 1956, and is a family-owned, four-season resort that is nationally recognized for its skiing, golf and award-winning spa.

  Located in northwest-lower-Michigan, a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the resort features downhill and cross-country skiing, Michigan Legacy Art Park, 36 holes of championship golf, Michigan’s only alpine slide, an outdoor water playground, a variety of lodging and dining options, countless year-round activities and kids programs, an IACC-approved conference center, weddings, real estate and Crystal Spa. See www.crystalmountain.com .

   As always, the Michigan Women’s Open offers free parking and admission. Spectators are welcome and can be shuttled to various spots on the course.

Tee Times and Live Scoring can be found by clicking HERE 

TRUE GRIT: White Lake Amateur Jake Kneen Holds On, Wins 101st Michigan Open

  ACME – Jake Kneen played what he called one of the grittiest round of his life, overcame a triple-bogey bite from the Bear’s 16th hole, and held on to win the 101st Michigan Open Championship at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

  The 22-year-old amateur from White Lake shot 75 for an 8-under 280 Thursday for the two shot-win over mini-tour player James Holley of Howell, who shot 72.

  “Wow, I think I had six birdies, six bogeys and a triple (bogey),” he said. “Man, it was up and down today. I just kept my head down and kept fighting. I knew I still had the lead even after the triple at 16. I just kept telling myself, ‘you are still ahead, just make some pars and steady out the round.’ Fortunately, I was able to do that.”

  Kneen, a former Michigan Junior Amateur champion who just this spring was the Horizon League Golfer of the Year for Oakland University, become just the sixth amateur to win the state Open championship, and just the second in the last 43 years. Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, who became a professional this year at age 50, broke a streak of 38 wins by professionals in 2013.

  “I means a lot, and just really validates a lot of the work that I’ve put in,” he said. “This is one of the biggest tournaments of the year for me personally, and it also validates what I want to do. My dream is to be a pro and me winning a tournament like this shows that it is not outrageous that I want to do that.”

   As an amateur Kneen won the maximum allowed of $750 in a golf shop certificate, and the $8,000 first-place check from the purse of $55,500 went to runner-up Holley.

  “There you go,” said Holley, who moved to Michigan four months ago with his fiancé and plans to go to Web.com Qualifying in the fall.

   “Not bad. I just had to put an air conditioner in our house last week and it cost a lot of money. This will help with that.”

   Kneen, who started the day with a three-shot lead on Eric Lilleboe and five on Holley, had a lead as big as six shots after birdies on Nos. 9 and 10, but Holley said the Bear doesn’t lend itself to a golfer pressing the issue.

   “The big lead he had at the end of the day helped him,” he said. “On a course like this you can’t get too aggressive. I had to stick to my game plan and that helped me. He played good golf. He probably wants to forget about hole 16. If he made pars the whole week on 16 he probably would have won by 20.”

  Kneen, who double-bogeyed 16 in Wednesday’s third round, started it the same way on Thursday with a drive right into the tall grass that lines the fairway. He had to play out to the fairway, but then missed the back left hole placement with a shot that ended up short and plugged in a deep greenside bunker. He thrashed it out to about 25 feet above the hole and off the green, left a chip on the steep hill halfway to the hole and two-putted from there.

  “I made an absolute mess of 16 again,” he said. “I hit six poor shots and a good tap-in for triple.”

  With his lead cut to two shots on Holley, Kneen made a two-putt par on the par 3 No. 17 hole with an 80-foot first putt from the back edge to five feet.

  “I absolutely nuked a 4-iron 240 yards, adrenalin I guess, but I made a good par, and then at 18 I striped a drive, hit a good shot on the green and was able to two-putt and win,” he said. “I told myself on 17 tee ‘just make two pars, just keep grinding.’”

   Former PGA Tour players Tom Gillis, awaiting age 50 and the PGA Tour Champions in five weeks, closed with a 70 for 283 and third place.

  Mini-tour player Michael Nagy of Manistique, and Andrew Walker of Battle Creek, a Michigan State University golfer, shot 68s for 284 and a tie for fourth.

  Mini-tour player Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, who shot 77, and Saline amateur Ian Martin, who shot 68, tied at 285.

  Kneen, who starting Tuesday will play in the Michigan Amateur Championship at Country Club of Detroit and turn pro in the fall, reasoned while he had anxious moments coming down the stretch in the final round, he would prefer leading over chasing.

  “I mean, if you can make a triple and still lead, that’s a good thing,” he said.


SCORES: Complete results can be found HERE

Amateur Jake Kneen Leads Heading to Michigan Open’s Final Round

ACME – White Lake amateur Jake Kneen had just one bad swing.

  The rest were very good in his 5-under 67 that powered him into the lead through three rounds of the 101st Michigan Open Championship being played on the Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

  “A lot of things were going well for me,” said the 22-year-old recent graduate of Oakland University where he was named the Horizon League Golfer of the Year this spring.

  His 11-under 205 total gave him a three-shot lead on third-round leader and mini-tour professional Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, who shot 72 for 208. James Holley of Howell, another mini-tour professional, shot 70 for 210 to set up the final threesome pairing for Thursday’s final round in the $55,500 state championship.

  Former PGA Tour player and two-time Michigan Open champion Tom Gillis of Lake Orion shot 74 for 213, eight off the lead in fourth place alone, and Kyle Wittenbach, the head men’s and women’s golf coach at Ferris State University, shot a 69 for 215 to round out the top five.  

  Kneen had seven birdies on his card when he made a double-bogey on the par 4 No. 16 hole with a drive that drifted into the long grass, and he came up short of the green on the par 3 17th and made bogey.

   “I was hitting it really well and making a lot of putts,” he said. “I had one bad swing at 16 and had to chip sideways out of the heather and made a double (bogey). A four isn’t all that bad at 17. As a whole though, I will very much accept the score and look forward to tomorrow.”

  Kneen, a former Michigan Junior Amateur champion, can become just the sixth amateur to win the state Open championship, and just the second in the last 43 years. Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, who became a professional this year at age 50, broke a streak of 38 wins by professionals in 2013.

  Lilleboe, who was second in 2016 to Jeff Bronkema in the Open, said he was impressed by Kneen’s play Wednesday.

  “The kid can play,” he said. “I’ve played with him before. He plans to turn pro and I think he will be successful. He’s a very good player and has a good head on his shoulders. He didn’t make a mistake until 16. He will be tough to chase down if he plays like that tomorrow.”

  Kneen almost didn’t make it to the Michigan Open despite being exempt from qualifying as the low amateur in last year’s Tournament of Champions. He didn’t enter, however, and didn’t notice until the entry deadline passed. That forced him into the second-chance three-spot qualifier the Michigan PGA presented on Saturday at nearby Traverse City Golf & Country Club. He bested the field with a 65.

  “My mom is blaming herself, but it was on me, I’m the player and ultimately responsible,” he said. “I definitely didn’t want to miss this. I’ve been looking forward to playing it.”

   He has slept on leads before, but admitted not in a tournament that involved professional golfers.

  “This is what I’ve worked for and what I’ve practiced for,” he said. “I’ve won a couple of tournaments as an amateur and in college, and those experiences will help me tomorrow. I’m more than excited to go out there and have a chance to win.”

   Wind kicked up after an hour rain delay Wednesday morning and the 30-year-old Lilleboe said the Bear was a test of patience.

  “I made a bogey (on No. 2) with a three-putt and missed a lot of birdie opportunities,” he said. “But I stayed tough, battled it and birdied the last hole for a respectable round. I still have a chance.”

  Holley, 29 and a Michigan resident for just four months after moving here from his native California, shot 31 on the front nine, but 39 on the back for his 70.

  “I hit it pretty good all day, but on the front nine I got good breaks with the ball kicking toward the hole, and on the back nine, the ball kicked off some,” he said.

  He is hoping the wind howls tomorrow. He grew up in Chatsworth north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley where the Santa Anna winds are known to wreak havoc on golf.

  “I hope it blows 50,” he said.  “The windier it is, the better it is for me. I think in the wind you have to think more, and it makes a tough course even tougher.”

 

Eric Lilleboe’s Sizzling 66 Gives Him Lead at Halfway Point of the Michigan Open

  ACME – Eric Lilleboe of Okemos has been working on his long irons and making progress, but it’s clear his wedge game is spot-on.

  Powered by a bogey-free 6-under 66 on the Bear the 30-year-old mini-tour professional wedged his way into the lead through two rounds of the 101st Michigan Open Championship Tuesday at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

  “The wedges were really good,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of confident swings. I’ve been working on my game and I feel good about it right now.”

  Lilleboe’s 66 put him at 8-under 136 at the halfway point of the championship presented by Yamaha Golf Cars Plus, MercyElite Sports Performance and Jani-King of Grand Rapids.

  He had a two-shot lead on amateur Jake Kneen of White Lake, who shot 68, and was three shots up on two-time champion and first-round co-leader Tom Gillis of Lake Orion, who shot 70, and 2016 champion Jeff Bronkema of Caledonia, who shot 68.

  Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, the 2013 champion and a PGA Tour Champions player, shot 67 for 140 and was tied with James Holley of Howell, a mini-tour pro who shot 71 after sharing the first-round lead with Gillis.

  The 36-hole cut fell at 154 with 76 players moving on to Wednesday’s third round. The tournament continues through Thursday.

  Lilleboe has been working with teaching professional Jason Guss, who has an academy at the Hawk Hollow Properties in the Lansing area. He is pleased with the results.

  “I was having trouble with my long irons,” he said. “I was flipping it, which you can get away with on wedge shots and 8 or 9-irons, but when you have to compress on the shot, it was not happening. Jason has helped me with that, and I’m starting to play with more confidence.”

   Kneen, who recently graduated from Oakland University where he was the Horizon League’s Golfer of the Year, had seven birdies in his round.

  “I’m feeling great,” he said. “I really only made one bad swing today at No. 4 and made a double there, but I had a really steady back nine where I was 3-under. I will try to take that momentum into the next round.”

  Kneen plans to turn professional after playing in the Michigan Amateur Championship and trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship one more time.

  “The U.S. Am is at Pebble Beach, so I really want to try that,” he said. “Then I’ll turn pro after later this summer.”

   Bronkema, a 29-year-old who recently took a job with United Parcel Service and stopped the mini-tour grind, had nine birdies in his round. A double-bogey at No. 13 with bunker trouble and bad read on a putt dropped him from a tie for the lead at the time.

    “I feel like I’m playing as well now as when I was playing full-time, who knows why,” he said. “Maybe less pressure because even when I made the double I kind of shrugged it off. When I was playing full-time, that sloppy double would have made me really mad.”

  Werkmeister welcomed the calm morning in which he played.

  “It was an easier golf course today, and I feel good about it,” he said. “I love it up here, so I’m excited for the final two rounds.”

SCORES: Complete results through round two and pairings for the third round can be found at michiganpgagolfcom

Veteran and Newcomer Share Lead in Michigan Open at the Bear

   ACME – Tom Gillis of Lake Orion is trying to win a third Michigan Open Championship in a third decade, while James Holley of Howell has only lived in Michigan for four months and is still holding up his hand to point out where he is located in the Great Lakes State.

    They shared the lead Monday through the first round of the 101st Michigan Open on the Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa with 3-under 69s.

  “Not a lot of people have won three in different decades,” said the 49-year-old Gillis, a 1998 and 2004 Michigan Open champion, Michigan Golf Hall of Famer, and former PGA Tour player awaiting his 50th birthday (July 16) and his shot on the PGA Tour Champions.

  “It’s a sign of longevity and a pride thing. The money is nice, but that would run out fast with the kids at home. I want to win. I haven’t won since 2009 (Web.com Tour), so I want to be in there and test myself. It doesn’t matter where you get in the heat. It doesn’t matter if it is the men’s invite. You feel heat, you feel heat. You need that.”

  Holley, a 26-year-old mini-tour player who played college golf at San Diego State in his native California, moved here with his fiancé, and had never played the Bear until a practice round Sunday.

  “This is the first real tournament I’ve played in since coming to Michigan, and my first time up north as everybody tells me,” he said. “It’s really not a whole lot different than the courses in Northern California. I just have to look at my hand to figure out where I’m at, but a golf course is a golf course when it gets down to it.”

   Mini-tour player Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, who finished second last year, and amateurs Jake Kneen of White Lake and Nicholas Bonnema of Troy and Loyola-Chicago University shot 70. Kneen, a recent graduate of Oakland University playing in the final group, was at 3-under through 17 holes, but bogeyed from the greenside bunker on No. 9, his final hole of the day.

  Jeff Bronkema of Caledonia, the 2016 champion, Kyle Rodes of Plymouth, Anthony Conaway of Davison and amateur Ian Martin of Saline made up the group at 71, and 2012 champion Barrett Kelpin, 2011 champion Randy Hutchison and amateur Andrew Walker of Battle Creek and Michigan State University were in the group at 72.

  Just nine golfers finished under par on a sunny day where the wind increased through the afternoon. The field of 156 golfers will play another 18 holes Tuesday before a 36-hole cut to the low 70 scorers and ties.

  Gillis had five birdies against two bogeys in his round and said it could have been better.

  “It also could have been worse,” he said. “The bunkers were tough with some new sand in them, and the wind helped you go in there some. I started playing away from them, and I never do that. I’ve always been a good player out of the sand.”

   Holley said the wind on the holes surrounded by trees were the most difficult ones for him.

  “That’s the biggest difference between Michigan golf and California golf,” he said. “We have trees, but they are not as dense as here and you can feel the wind coming through them. You can’t feel the wind in the trees here. I was guessing out there some by looking at the (course map) and remembering where the wind was coming from on other holes.”

   The championship, the first in 10 years at Grand Traverse Resort where it was played 28 times previously, is being presented by Yamaha Golf Cars Plus, MercyElite Sports Performance and Jani-King International with additional support from Pepsi and Traverse City Tourism.

 

SCORES: Complete results and pairings for Tuesday can be found HERE