Haslett’s Chris Mory Leads Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort

  BOYNE FALLS – Haslett PGA teaching professional Chris Mory figures in an odd way he has become a better golfer by just knowing more and playing less.

  “I’m teaching a lot now, but I try to do what I can do to get my game in shape,” he said after shooting a 7-under 65 on the Alpine course to lead through one round of the 27th Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort.

  “I hit some close wedges, hit some close irons shots and even made birdie out of a fairway bunker (No. 4),” he said. “Today I just tried to aim to spots where I knew my ball would kind of funnel closer to the hole, and I played a little more conservative and I made a few putts.”

  Mory, 28 and a teacher with the Jason Guss Academy at the Hawk Hollow Properties in the Lansing area, had plenty of close pursuers, mostly from the morning wave that enjoyed perfect warm and windless weather conditions.

   Eric Lilleboe, a 30-year-old mini-tour golfer from Okemos, shot 66, and PGA Tour Champions player Tom Werkmeister of Grandville shot 67 with a 6-under 30 on the back nine, while Sam Weatherhead, a mini-tour player from Grand Rapids shot 67 in the afternoon with three consecutive birdies and an eagle-2 on No. 9 holing out from the fairway on the front nine.

  Recent Michigan Open champion Jake Kneen of White Lake shot 68, and was the low amateur in the first round.

  Scott Hebert, the head golf professional at Traverse City Golf & Country Club, the 2009 winner here, shot 69, as did Travis Dodson of Garden City and Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville. Defending champion Mike Nagy of Manistique opened with a 70.

   The Tournament of Champions field of 113 golfers, which includes 16 golfers already in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, launched 27 years ago with juniors, seniors, professionals and amateurs of both sexes all playing for one title from different tee positions. All who are invited have won selected significant Michigan golf championships, both amateur and professional.

   The field switches to the Monument course for Tuesday’s second round. A cut will be made following to the low 60 scorers and ties for Wednesday’s final round on the Alpine in the 54-hole $55,000 championship.

  Lilleboe, who is headed back to the Dakotas Tour in a few weeks and planning a trip to Web.com qualifying school in the fall, said he made a bogey and had a three-putt par after reaching the par 5 18th green in two shots.

  “But I made up for it on some of the other holes and really played a solid round of golf,” he said. “Once I started hitting fairways on the back nine I started putting my wedges inside of 15 feet and rolling them in. Those were solid shots.”

  Lilleboe called the unique tournament great.

  “It’s competitive and at the same time you get to feel like you are on vacation up here,” he said. “You know you have to play well out here to win. There are so many good players of all ages. It’s just a great event.”

   In addition to Kneen as low amateur and Werkmeister as low senior professional, the first-round leaders in the other competitor categories included Mike Ignasiak of Saline and Mike Raymond of Jackson at 74 as low senior amateurs, low female professional Laura Kueny of Whitehall at 74, low female amateur Cortney Reno of Grosse Ile at 77 and low super senior Randy Erskine at 71.

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