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.”

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