Werkmeister picks up his first Club Car Senior Open Title

BATTLE CREEK –    Tom Werkmeister, professional from Grandville, MI competing in his second Senior Open since turning 50 last year, followed up his opening round of 67 with another 67 today to give him a 1 shot victory and his first Club Car Senior Open title.

Heading into the day Tom was tied with Robert Matthiesen, amateur from Mason, MI, who also shot 67 on Tuesday. Tom got off to a fast start and helped separate himself from the field with a (-5) under par 31 on the front.

Playing in his first Senior Open Championship Scott Hebert from Traverse City Golf & CC made a charge today with the low round of the tournament (-6) under par 66. Scott and Tom were both tied at -9 for the tournament with two holes to play.

After bogeys on #10 and #12 Tom steadied his round with birdies at #14 and a clutch birdie on the tough par 3 17th hole. With a two putt par at the last Tom clinched his first Senior Open title, finishing at -10 for the tournament, one shot ahead of Scott.

Matthiesen finishes as the low amateur of the event, finishing at (-5 for the tournament) and tied for 3rd overall with Kevin Muir from The Wyndgate.

Tom said that as of last year he always puts the Club Car Senior Open on his schedule between his Champions Tour Qualifiers and other events and enjoys the golf course. Tom will be traveling overseas next week to participate in the British Senior Open Qualifying.

It was an exciting finish in the 65 and older super senior division as Ian Harris, amateur from Bloomfield, MI defeated PGA Life Members Ron English and Randy Erskine in a playoff. Ian birdied the first playoff hole to clinch the victory. All 3 players finished at (-3) 141 for the tournament.

A field of 118 decorated golfers, including PGA Professionals, top amateurs, sixteen Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members and thirteen past champions, participated this year in this Club Car Senior Open at Bedford Valley Golf Club.

   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 information on the championship and up to date scores as players finish.

HOME COOKING: Hot Putter Helps Crystal Mountain’s Anika Dy Win Michigan PGA Open Championship

  THOMPSONVILLE – Traverse City’s Anika Dy had home-course advantage and more importantly a sizzling putter on the back nine.

  It added up to five-shot victory  in the 26th Michigan PGA Open Championship for the 17-year-old Crystal Mountain Resort cart lot attendant who grew up playing the Mountain Ridge Course where she shot a final 4-under 68 with a 4-under 32 on the back nine Wednesday.

  “This is my fifth or sixth year playing in this and I’ve never done very well,” she said after closing with a 12-under 204 total. “This year I just really felt it. I’m super happy to be able to win at my home course. Being here at Crystal helped so much. This tells me the work I have been doing is working, and that if I keep going good things will come in time.”

  As a recent Traverse City West High School graduate headed to the University of Michigan in the fall, and an amateur golfer, she couldn’t win the first-place check in the $40,000 tournament. She is just the second amateur to win the open championship that draws professionals and amateurs from across the country, and the youngest to ever win. Breanne Hall of Kentwood, who is now the women’s golf coach at Illinois State, won in 2003 while playing golf for the University of Toledo.

 Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio, who was playing in her first professional tournament after just graduating from Furman University, and mini-tour professional Macy Hubbard of Mason, Ohio, who charged in the final round with a 66, tied for second at 7-under 209. They will split first and second-place money for $5,250 each. Mini-tour pro Bryana Nguyen of Columbia, Md., shot 65 for 210 and fourth place and $3,500.

 Defending champion Elizabeth Nagel, a Symetra Tour player, tied for fifth with a closing 71 for 212. Professional Sarah Bae of Pinehurst, N.C., shot 68 and also finished at 212.

 Dy, a three-time Division 1 high school state champion and Michigan’s unprecedented three-time Miss Golf, said some nerves and a few poor shots kept her at even-par through the front nine. Then she hit it to about two feet for birdie on the par 4 No. 10 hole and made three consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 with birdie putts of three feet, 10-feet and eight feet.

  “All my putts were going in on the back nine – that’s what I remember,” she said. “And my irons started clicking. The key that helped me win this week was that even when I got in a bad spot, I’ve played this course so many times that I know what I have to do and where I have to go. I’m comfortable here in almost any spot, and I was able to stay calm and just focus on my game. I didn’t know I won because I did not look at the leaderboards on the course at all. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I just tried to keep it going. I think I handled it well not thinking about anything too much. I just focused on my game and hitting good shots, and not letting what other people do affect me.”

  Harford, who started the day one shot behind Dy and pulled to within one shot again with a birdie at No. 9, said Dy played amazing.

  “I didn’t make enough putts, and she made almost all of them on the second nine,” she said. “She’s a great player and she played great.”

  Dy said Hubbard, an All-American at Furman, was an awesome player and awesome person.

   “She pushed me to play my best, and I look forward to playing with her again,” she said.

  Dy said winning an event that included professionals in the field would not change her mind about college.   “I look forward to being on a team, in that atmosphere,” she said. “We will see how college golf goes before even thinking about pro golf.”

For complete results click HERE

Crystal Mountain Cart Attendant Anika Dy Races to Lead in Michigan Women’s Open

  THOMPSONVILLE – Normally, at least this summer at Crystal Mountain Resort, Anika Dy of Traverse City greets golfers, puts their clubs on a cart and helps them prepare for their rounds in her job as a cart lot attendant.

  On Tuesday she shot 5-under 67 on the Mountain Ridge Course and took a one-shot lead through 36 holes of the 26th Michigan Women’s Open Championship.

  “I’m trying not to think too much about it,” said the 17-year-old recent graduate of Traverse City West High School who has grown up playing and practicing at Crystal Mountain.

  “That’s where I’m at – just don’t overthink it.”

  Dy, who is headed to the University of Michigan on a golf scholarship in the fall, was at 8-under 136 in the open championship that features an assortment of Symetra Tour golfers, mini-tour players, teaching pros and amateurs from across the country.

  Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio, a recent graduate of Furman University where she was an All-American golfer, shot 69 for 7-under and second place. She recently played in the prestigious Arnold Palmer Cup and then turned professional.

  Christine Meier of Rochester Hills, a teaching professional at Country Club of Detroit, shot 71 to land at 4-under in third, four strokes off the lead.

  Defending champion Liz Nagel of DeWitt, a Symetra Tour player, shot 72 to land at 3-under with 70-shooting mini-tour player Gabrielle Shipley of Hastings, the former Division II individual national champion for Grand Valley State University.

  Five golfers were at 2-under including Michigan State University golfer Yurika Tanida of Japan, who shot 71. The others are professionals Jessica Welch of Thomasville, Ga., who shot 68, Olivia Jordan-Higgins of Birmingham, Ala., who shot 70, Nicole Budnik of The Woodlands, Texas, who shot 71, and Melissa Siviter of Alpharetta, Ga., who shot 72.

  The 36-hole cut fell at 159 with 70 players moving on to Wednesday’s final round in the $40,000, 54-hole championship. Split tee times will be used for the final round with the leaders teeing off at 9:39 a.m. off No. 1.

  Dy will not be cashing a check but could become the second amateur to win the championship and would become the youngest winner in tournament history. Breanne Hall of Kentwood in 2003 was a University of Toledo golfer when she won. Hall is currently the women’s golf coach at Illinois State.

  Dy, who recently won her third consecutive Division 1 state high school state championship and was named Miss Golf in Michigan three consecutive years, said her goal is to stay up at the top of the leaderboard and keep going. She’s confident because she estimates having played as many as 200 to 300 rounds on the Mountain Ridge course, and her teacher is Bay Meadows Golf Course professional Scott Wilson, who used to work at Crystal Mountain. She also was the youngest to ever play in the Michigan Women’s Open when she first teed it up at age 11.

  “This is where I started playing golf, where I grew up and I’ve played in this tournament a lot of times,” she said. “I know a lot of people here. I love all the support I get. To win here would be a huge deal. I just don’t want to think about it right now. I will just try to play my game. Same game plan. I will just go out there and play golf on a course where I’m really comfortable and I know the greens really well. There are always nerves. It is all part of it. Whoever handles the nerves the best is going to win.”

  The diminutive 5-foot-2 Dy said brand new irons and wedges, men’s clubs for the first time, have helped her a little with distance and a lot with control.

  “I guess I’m getting stronger,” she said. “Michigan sent me workout tapes, and they are helping.”

  She made bogey on the second hole, but birdied Nos. 4, 6 and 7.

  “I cruised after that,” she said. “I honestly haven’t been playing that well until the last couple of weeks so I’m glad it’s starting to come together.”

   She will not be looking at scoreboards in the final round as the field chases.

  “When I pass the big scoreboards on the course I try not to look,” she said. “Sometimes I might take a peek, but for the most part I try to just stay in my lane.”

   Harford will be going for the passing lane. The 22-year-old, who was a two-time Ohio high school state champion, said she is feeling great about her game and her first professional event.

  “Today I hit it really well,” she said. “I just wasn’t making putts the first nine. It felt good to get them rolling in the last two holes. That was a good way to finish and feel good going into tomorrow. The golf course is great. I’m just going to stick to playing my game, playing the golf course.”

For complete scores click HERE

Four Michigan Golfers One Shot Off Lead in Michigan Women’s Open Championship

 THOMPSONVILLE – Defending champion Liz Nagel of DeWitt shook off some of the rust, and she was happy to be paired with fellow former Michigan State Spartan teammate Christine Meier of Rochester Hills in the first round Monday of the 26th Michigan Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Springs Resort.

  Nagel, just off a four-week break for a family funeral, and Meier, now directing the junior golf program at Country Club of Detroit, matched 3-under 69 rounds on the Mountain Ridge Course, which left them just one shot off the lead of mini-tour pros Kasey Miller of Findlay, Ohio, and Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio, who each carded 68s.

  Amateur Anika Dy of Traverse City, a three-time high school state champion who is headed to the University of Michigan in the fall, and amateur Meghan Deardorff of Clarkston, who will be a junior for the Central Michigan University golf team, were also at 3-under.

   “It feels good to be out here,” said Nagel, who has missed four tournaments on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour schedule. “I didn’t make a ton of putts, but I made a few good ones. I’m pretty rusty but it was good. I just had to think a little harder and not try so hard because I was rusty. Four weeks is a long time to be gone.”

  Meier, who was on the same team as Nagel for four years at MSU and also is a former mini-tour golfer and two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur champion, said it was great to be paired with her teammate.

  “There are not as many Michigan State people here this year, but it’s great to see everybody and get a chance to play,” said Meier, who plans to continue as a teaching professional. “I like teaching and coaching a lot.”

  Dy, like Nagel, was 4-under through 15 holes. Nagel made a bogey on the par 3 17th, while Dy made bogey at 16. Several of the players on the leaderboard had tough finishes on the final three holes.

  “The approaches to 16, 17, even 18, are pretty tough,” Dy said. “They’re good finishing holes. I was pretty steady until 16.”

   Deardorff said her swing was on today, and she made some putts early in her round before a 90-minute rain delay starting at 4 p.m.

  “I just had fun with it and played one shot at a time,” she said. “This is my second time here, and I really want to get to round three. That was my main goal coming up here.”

  The field of 90 golfers will play a second round Tuesday with a cut to the low 70 and ties following. The final round in the $40,000 54-hole championship is on Wednesday.

   Miller, a former University of Findlay golfer known for getting a public proposal at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2016 from her now husband Jake Miller, was 5-under through 17 holes, but hit a second shot on the par 5 18th into the trees right and scrambled for a bogey-6.

  Harford, a former All-American at Furman University, was 6-under through 14 holes after a string of four consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-14. She made bogeys on 16 and 18 to finish at 4-under.

For complete scores click HERE

DeWitt’s Liz Nagel Defends as Crystal Mountain Hosts 26th Michigan Women’s Open Starting Monday

THOMPSONVILLE –  Defending champion Liz Nagel of DeWitt will defend her championship in the 26th Michigan Women’s Open Championship starting Monday on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort with a bit of a rusty game and a heavy heart.

  The 27-year-old LPGA Symetra Tour player has missed the last month to be at home with her grandmother Carolee Sanford, who passed away just recently after a battle with cancer. She was 74.

  “She was my biggest fan and she would come to the Michigan Open with me,” Nagel said. “She was from the Upper Peninsula, so normally I would have been in Harris with the tour there this week (Island Resort Championship), but this all just happened, and it was kind of sudden and now I’m getting back to golf. It’s tough when life and golf collide.”

  Nagel, a fifth-year pro, dramatically shot a 4-under 68 and came from six shots behind to win the 2018 Michigan Open by three shots. It was her first professional win.

  “It was great to win and after it I had a decent finish to the season,” she said. “I have good memories of the last hole. I got up and down from that bunker at 18, and had an 11-footer, left to right, above the hole and it broke a lot. It was the best putt I made all day and it felt really good just to finish with a birdie. Then they told me I won. I don’t look at scoreboards. It was great to win.”

  Nagel said she played in the early events on the Symetra Tour this season before missing four in a row.

  “I was playing good before I came home to be with my grandmother,” she said. “Not sure what to expect now. I’m on the range right now hitting balls. I’ll be ready to go. It’s strange. I’m not hesitant to get back to golf. I miss it. I love it. I just have to face this new reality.”

  Crystal Mountain is hosting the championship for the 17th consecutive time, and Nagel is one of four three former champions in the field.

  Lindsey McPherson, the 2017 champion now living in Findlay, Ohio, is returning to what she calls her favorite golf tournament, as is 2011 champion Laura Kueny, who now lives in Asheville, N.C.

  The 26th edition of the championship, which does not require Michigan residency, will feature an international field of 89 golfers, including mini-tour 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 the reigning Michigan Women’s Amateur champion Kerri Parks of Flushing and Marshall University, Elayna Bowser of Dearborn, who recently graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and was the runner-up to Parks in the 2018 Amateur, and University of Arkansas golfer Julia Dean of Brighton.

Flint’s Shasta Averyhardt, 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-Stoll, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, is also in the field  with several of her current, former or incoming Spartan golfers. Grand Rapids native Sue Ertl, another Hall of Fame member and another former Spartan, is home from Florida to play in the championship.

 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 results through the week can be found by clicking HERE

MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Johnson 616-560-8995 or greggie24@hotmail.com.

Ruffino captures medalist honors at the Rocket Mortgage Pre Qualifier

Dearborn, MI – Francesco Ruffino ,professional from Bloomfield Hills, MI took home the medalist honors in fine fashion by shooting a course record tying 63 in the Rocket Mortgage Pre Qualifier at TPC of Michigan on Wednesday.

Francesco said he knew the course record was 63 from his previous years as a member at the TPC course and had a good look on the last hole that he left just short. He joins a distinguished list tying Tom Kite, Allen Doyle, Jim Colbert and Hubert Green, who all shot 63 when TPC Michigan hosted the Ford Senior Players Championship.

A total of 29 players at (-1) under par 71 or better will move on to the Monday Qualifier at The Orchards Golf Club, where 4 from there will advance to the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on June 27-30. These 29 players will compete against players that have current status on the Web.com, Champions Tour and 2018 – 2019 PGA Tour members.

Cody Haughton, PGA Professional from Red Run Golf Club recorded an ace at the par 3 fourth hole on his way to a (-6) under par round of 66. Cody advances to Monday and will join 3 other Michigan PGA Professionals : Scott Hebert from Traverse City Golf & CC, John Seltzer, Seltzer Golf School and Brian Cairns from the Fox Hills Learning Center. Scott, John and Brian received an exemption into Monday by finishing top 3 in the 2018 Michigan PGA Section Player of the Year Race.

They all hope to capture 1 of the 4 spots and join PGA Life Member Lee Houtteman from Glen Arbor, who received an exemption into the Rocket Mortgage Classic by winning the 2018 Michigan PGA Section Championship.

For complete results from the Pre- Qualifer click HERE

Eric Lilleboe of Okemos Wins Michigan Open; Final Round Rained Out

  ACME – Eric Lilleboe of Okemos was declared the winner of the 102nd Michigan Open Championship presented by Grand Traverse Resort & Casino/Yamaha Golf Cars Plus/Lake Trust Credit Union after the final round was rained out Thursday.

  “I was ready to play today, I wanted to play today just because that is how I’ve always been,” the 31-year-old mini-tour players said. “I want to play golf, and I know on a day like today anything could have happened. In a way, I’m grateful, but I did want to play.”

  Heavy rain through the night and Thursday morning left several holes on The Bear course with standing water issues.

  “Five holes of The Bear were unplayable under the rules of golf so it’s unfortunate we had to cancel the final round,” Justin Phillips, tournament director for the Michigan Section of the PGA said. “Eric clearly played the best through 54 holes and he is our champion.”

 Lilleboe, who had a five-shot lead on the field through three rounds, won the first-place check of $8,000 out of the total purse of $55,000 and said winning the Michigan Open is tops in his golf career.

 “It is special for me,” he said. “It is my home state’s open and I beat a lot of great players. It’s feels different because I didn’t have to face down those final round nerves of coming up 18 and needing to make a putt or anything like that, but it is sinking in that my name is going to be on that (James D. Standish Jr. Trophy) forever with some amazing other names. It is really cool. I’m happy to be champion.”

  Lilleboe shot a 7-under 65 on The Bear Wednesday to make it to 13-under. Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, a PGA Tour Latinoamerica player and the 2012 Michigan Open champion, finished second at 8-under, five shots off the lead.

  “You always want to play four rounds if you can, but it has been a long week and I know the PGA would have played it if it was possible,” Kelpin said. “Some weeks you just can’t get it in. Monday was a long day. I was ready to go do it again today, but Eric played really well this week. He did great, so it is great he is the champion. It’s great for him. I know what he is feeling.”

  Michael Nagy, a mini-tour player from Manistique, and Willie Mack III, a mini-tour player from Grand Blanc, finished in a tie for third at 5-under, and mini-tour player Brett White of Caledonia and the week’s top amateur, Zach Sudinsky of Ypsilanti, an Eastern Michigan University golfer, were next at 4-under.

  Domenic Mancinelli, a mini-tour pro from Northville, finished at 3-under and Francesco Ruffino, a mini-tour player from Bloomfield Hills, was at 2-under. Rounding out the top 10 were 1-under finishers Blaze Hogan, a mini-tour pro from Big Rapids, first-round leader Darren Husse of Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, and Sam Weatherhead, a mini-tour pro from Grand Rapids.

  Lilleboe, who heads for the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic pre-qualifier and a qualifier for the John Deere Classic as well, said he hit his driver well the first two rounds, caught some breaks in the third round and saved some pars with his putter. He also noted that his final shot in the tournament ended up being a 65-foot birdie putt on No. 18 Wednesday that dropped.

  “It was a good way to end it,” he said. “I just didn’t know that was the end. I feel really fortunate and really happy at the same time.”

For final results and payout click HERE

Eric Lilleboe of Okemos Charges to Five-Shot Lead in 102nd Michigan Open Championship

  ACME – Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, with the help of a 65-foot birdie putt on No. 18, an eagle-3 on No. 15 and what he deemed good luck, built a five-shot lead Wednesday through three rounds of the $55,000 102nd Michigan Open Championship presented by Grand Traverse Resort & Casino/Yamaha Golf Cars Plus/Lake Trust Credit Union.

  The 31-year-old mini-tour professional shot a 7-under 65 on The Bear course to land at 13-under 203. Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, 29 and a PGA Tour Latinoamerica player who won the 2012 Michigan Open, was second at 8-under after a second consecutive 68.

  “I was in some pretty bad spots but ended up making a bunker shot on 16 from the middle of nowhere, and at 11 I was so fortunate to find my ball inbounds touching the white line,” Lilleboe said. “I had some really poor swings, especially after it started raining, and I made some quality shots, too. It feels good to put a round together and be in the lead, but it takes luck, too. I made a couple of 30 footers for par. I made eagle at 15. It was that kind of day.”

   Lilleboe and Kelpin will be joined in the final playing group at Noon Thursday by Mike Nagy, a Manistique mini-tour pro who shot 72 and was at 5-under, eight shots off the lead. Ted with him in third place starting the final round will be the second-round leader Willie Mack III of Grand Blanc, who shot 74.

   Brett White, a mini-tour player from Caledonia who played at Eastern Michigan University, shot 70 and was next at 4-under with amateur Zach Sudinsky, a current Eastern Michigan player who shot 71 and is low among the amateurs in the field.

  Kelpin held the lead briefly during the round but lamented some missed putts on the back nine as well as a bogey on No. 15 with a plugged shot in a greenside bunker. It was the same hole where Lilleboe in the group behind then made eagle and took the lead.

  “I got a plugged lie in that bunker, but I shouldn’t have put myself in that position with a poor lob wedge,” Kelpin said. “I really was playing well, 4-under through 10 holes, and then I just didn’t make as many good putts coming in as I should have. I hope tomorrow I start out like I did today and put some pressure on Eric. I’m playing well and I’m confident.”

  Kelpin has a low-scoring track record, especially in the Michigan Open. He tied the all-time Michigan Open record of 23-under in his 2012 win at The Orchards in Washington Township (tied with Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Walter Burkemo).

  “It would be nice to give myself a chance to win tomorrow,” he said. “Playing well in Michigan events means a lot to me, and I would like to join the club of multiple winners in the Michigan Open.”

  Lilleboe is in the final group of the Michigan Open for the second consecutive year, and also was in the final group in the 2016 Open. He said it would mean a lot to finish on top this time, and not just because of the $8,000 first-place check.

  “I’ve played in these since I was in college,” he said. “To win would mean everything. I mean, it is the state Open. I was born and raised in Michigan. That makes it mean a lot. I’m going to be ready tomorrow, ready to tee it when it is time to go. I’m not going to call anything, but I’m definitely playing good golf.”

For complete results click HERE

Grand Blanc’s Willie Mack Clubs The Bear, Takes Lead at Michigan Open

  ACME — Willie Mack III of Flint came home from his mini-tour wanderings for the Michigan Open Championship with some new, hot clubs in his golf bag.

  “I’ve won two of the last three events I’ve played so I’ve been playing pretty good,” he said after shooting a 5-under 67 Tuesday to take a one-shot lead at the halfway point of the state championship being played on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

  “I put some new clubs (Miura irons from Japan, PING wedges and driver, 3-wood) in the bag a few months ago and I’ve been playing good ever since.”

  The 36-hole cut fell at 8-over 152 and 73 golfers out of the starting field of 156 will move on to Wednesday’s third round in the 102nd Michigan Open presented by Grand Traverse Resort & Casino/Yamaha Golf Cars Plus/Lake Trust Credit Union. The leaders will tee off in the third round at Noon. The $55,000 championship continues through Thursday.

  Mack had a one-shot lead on mini-tour player Francesco Ruffino of Bloomfield Hills, who shot an 8-under 64 with a 7-under 29 on the back nine to check in at 6-under 138 for two rounds, one shot behind Mack at 7-under for the tournament.

  Ruffino had company at 6-under – first-round leader Darren Husse of Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, who shot 70, and Eric Lilleboe, a mini-tour professional from Okemos who shot 69.

  Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon, the 2007 Michigan Open champion, shot 66 to check in at 5-under with Mike Nagy, a mini-tour professional from Manistique who shot 70, and Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, the 2012 Michigan Open champion, was at 4-under after shooting a 68.

  Mack won a mini-tour event in Orlando recently, and on May 20 won the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tournament at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla. That win netted him $7,000, but also an exemption into a PGA Tour event and a paid entry into Web.com Tour Qualifying this winter.

  “I’m hitting it and putting it pretty good and everything kind of came together today,” he said. “I was bogey free until 17, and the greens were smooth and the wind wasn’t bad. Luckily, we had nice weather. We got the right wave of the draw yesterday in the afternoon, and this morning was great, too.”

  Mack, 30, has topped the Advocates Tour and the Florida Pro Golf Tour money lists in his eight years as a professional. He counts 53 wins on various mini-tours around the country, and he made national golf news last winter while on the road in Florida when his car caught on fire. The ultimate goal remains the PGA Tour for the former Michigan Amateur champion, but he would love to catch fire the last two days and add a Michigan Open along the way.

  “I’ve had a couple of good tries in the Michigan Open,” he said. “I think to win both the Amateur and Open would be like icing on a cake.”

   Ruffino, 24, turned professional in 2018 and battled a neck injury. He played in the Metropolitan Open in St. Louis last week and will try to qualify for the PGA Tour’s upcoming Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

  “I’ve been hitting it really good and just not getting any putts to drop,” he said. “Yesterday I struggled. I hit it out of play six times, so I spent a lot of time on the range and got my numbers dialed in. On the back nine I finally trusted it, and it worked out really well.”

  He started hitting his approach shots close, as in five-feet for birdie on 10, five-feet on 11, two-feet on 12, five-feet on 15, two-feet on 16 and four-feet on 18.

   “It’s my lowest round as a professional and it’s cool to do it in the Michigan Open,” he said. “I feel good about my game, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I had injury problems in the past, but I started working with a trainer and it has helped a lot with doing the right training for golf. I feel great, and I’m excited about it helping me.”

Brain Surgery Survivor Darren Husse Leads Michigan Open Championship

  ACME –  Darren Husse, an assistant golf professional at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, had major brain surgery six years ago and has wires running from his brain through his neck to a pacemaker in his chest.

  Little wonder he considers just being able to play golf again a bonus, and it’s a double-bonus that he was the leader through the first round Monday of the 102nd Michigan Open Championship presented by Grand Traverse Resort & Casino/Yamaha Golf Cars Plus/Lake Trust Credit Union and played on The Bear.

Make it a triple-bonus: He holed out a 111-yard wedge shot on No. 18 for an eagle-2 to shoot 4-under 68 to get his one-shot lead on four golfers – PGA Tour Latinoamerica player Otto Black of Brighton, Okemos mini-tour pro Eric Lilleboe, Manistique mini-tour pro Mike Nagy, and Jacob Losey, a golf professional at Deer Run Golf at Watermark Country Club in Grand Rapids.

  Four more golfers were at 70 including Grand Blanc mini-tour pro Willie Mack III, DeWitt mini-tour pro Alex Jones, Traverse City amateur Thomas Hursey, who just graduated from Suttons Bay High School and Zach Sudinsky, an amateur from Ypsilanti.

  “Leading the Michigan Open, that’s crazy and a bonus even if it took a shot to go in on the last hole for a 2,” he said. “You never expect to hole out, and to do it there on 18 of The Bear. I mean, I hit my best two shots of the day to finish, which leaves a really good taste in my mouth.”

  Husse, 36 and in his third year at Warwick Hills, topped a field of 156 golfers who will play the second round today to determine the 36-hole to the 70 low scorers and ties. He played in the afternoon, which was cool but sunny and nothing like the morning wave of steady cold rain.

  The low score among those in the morning half of the field was an even-par 72 by Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, another Latinoamerica player and the 2012 Michigan Open champion. All 11 scores under par on the day were in the sunshine of the afternoon, and Kelpin was the only golfer who did not finish over par in the morning.

  Husse said just being able to play golf means it’s a nice day for him.

  “It was a motor function issue,” he said. “My hands would shake really bad, and it got so bad I couldn’t write my name, I couldn’t eat because my hands were shaking, I had trouble even holding on to a golf club because my hands were going all over the place,” he said. “The surgery became about quality of life, not golf. They think it might have been caused by a four-wheeler accident I had after high school (2002) where I had some head trauma, but they don’t know. All I know is now you can see that there are wires running down my neck underneath the skin, and I have a whole different perspective on everything. I used to be pretty fiery, but now, honestly, bad shots don’t bother me. You can’t tell if I’m shooting 68 or 88. I’m just happy to be playing golf again.”

  Kelpin said he was happy when his round was over, and that the Bear he played in the morning was very wet and very difficult.

  “The rain didn’t let up the entire round, there was wind and it was tough to score,” he said. “I feel pretty good about a 72. I had one miscue, a double on 14 when I picked the wrong club, but other than that I scored well for the conditions we had.”

  Black, who played in the same group as Husse, said he felt good about his game and being one shot behind.

  “I played pretty solid,” he said. “I missed a few putts, but nothing bad really. I’m looking forward to the next few days.”