Hole-In-One Helps Michigan PGA Professional Championship Leader Chad Kurmel

  FLINT – With help from a hole-in-one Chad Kurmel of the Spartan Golf Academy at Michigan State University shot 7-under 65 to lead after the first round of the 97th Michigan PGA Professional Championship at Flint Golf Club Monday.

  “I hit a lot of solid shots and sometimes you get good bounces and things go your way, and it just happened to be that kind of day,” said the 47-year-old teaching pro who in 2012 won the South Florida PGA Professional Championship while working in Boca Raton.

  Kurmel had a one-shot lead on Ben Cook, an assistant professional at Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids. Cook, a Former Ferris State University golfer and 2017 graduate, was the winner of the Northern Ohio PGA Professional Championship last year while working in the Cleveland area and a week ago won the Michigan PGA Section Assistants Championship.

  Kurmel aced the No. 2 hole, a 168-yard par 3, with a 7-iron. It was the fifth hole-in-one of his golf career, and the third in competition.

  “I took advantage of the par 5s, and you have to do that with five of them out there,” he said. “I hit solid shots all day really, gave myself a lot of birdie chances and it is nice when a hole-in-one happens during a good round.”

   Travis Dodson, an assistant professional at Meadowbrook in Northville, shot 67 to stand third alone, and Jim Dieters, the head professional at Midland Country Club, and Bryan Harris of Forest Akers West, each shot 68.

  Seven golfers shot 69, including host professional Scott Brotebeck, and three-time champion Brian Cairns of Fox Hills in Plymouth, who also had a hole-in-one Monday. He aced the No. 17 hole with an 8-iron shot at 160 yards. It was the 16th hole-in-one of his golf career.

  Also shooting 69 were 2010 champion Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson, Donald Devantier of Cracklewood Golf Club in Macomb, Jason Guss of Jason Guss Academy in Bath, Reed Black of Spring Meadows in Linden and Josh Fryer of Franklin Hills in Franklin.

  Defending champion John Seltzer of Blythefield near Grand Rapids, and eight-time champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club were in the crowd at 70.

   A cut will be made to the low 60 scorers and ties after Tuesday’s second round in the 54-hole, $54,000 championship.  The low nine golfers at the end of the tournament, along with Hebert and Jeff Roth of Boyne Highlands Resort who are exempt from qualification, will play in the 2019 PGA Professional National Championship at Belfair in Bluffton, S.C., next  April 28 – May 1. The low 20 finishers from that national event move on to play with the best players in the world at next year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.

  Cook, a former Ferris State University golfer who is working at an assistant at Cascade and headed back to the Latin American Tour and Web.com Qualifying in the fall, said he has been playing well all summer and he likes the Flint Golf Club course, a classic Willie Park design.

  “This course definitely suits my game with the five par 5s and I think I hit four of them in two,” he said. “I was doing what I should do – birdie the par 5s and kind of go from there.”

  He made five consecutive birdies in the round, which tied his personal best string. That stretch includes three par 5 holes, Nos. 9, 11 and 12, and he had two-putt birdies after reaching the green in two shots on the trio.

  “The greens were rolling great, and it’s pretty soft so you can throw iron shots right at the flag,” he said. “And five par fives are helpful, too.”

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