Kalamazoo’s Barrett Kelpin and Boyne’s Jeff Roth Share Lead at Tournament of Champions

 BOYNE FALLS – Kalamazoo’s Barrett Kelpin moved into a tie with Boyne teaching professional Jeff Roth with one round remaining in the 28th Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort.

 The 30-year-old PGA Tour Latinoamerica player shot 70 while the 61-year-old Roth fired a 71 on The Monument Course Tuesday to land together at 8-under 136. They will be joined in the final group in Wednesday’s final round on The Alpine course by 50-year-old Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, who shot 69 for 139.

 All three are past champions of the unique $55,000 championship that brings together men, women, professionals, amateurs, seniors and juniors to compete for one championship from different tee positions. Roth counts five former TOC titles on his rich resume, while Kelpin and Hebert each have one. Roth and Hebert are also already in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

  “I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Kelpin said. “The last group is where you want to be, and under-par on The Monument is good for me. I’ve had trouble there in the past. It feels good to shoot a decent number there.”

  The cut to 60 scorers and ties landed at 9-over 153 with 61 players from the starting field of 119 moving on to Wednesday’s play. The field will tee off both Nos. 1 and 10 with the leaders going off No. 1 at 9:30 a.m.

  Last year winner Alex Scott of Traverse City shot a record-tying 11-under 61 in the final round to force a playoff. He was eight shots behind when the final round started, which bodes well for several golfers this year.

  Jeff Bronkema of Caledonia, the 2016 Michigan Open winner and now a UPS employee and new father, is one of four golfers at 140, four shots off the lead.

  He shot 68 to get there, and was joined through the day by three 70-shooters – amateur Henry Do of Auburn Hills, Latinoamerica player Otto Black of Brighton and Kurt Valley, a Bay City native who is now a teaching professional in Monroe, Wash.

  Randy Hutchison of Traverse City shot 73 for 141, and the trio at 142 included Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Suzy Green-Roebuck of Ann Arbor, who shot 69, Kevin Muir of The Wyndgate in Rochester, who shot 71, and Andy Ruthkoski, a two-time TOC champion from Muskegon who shot 72.

   Kelpin, the 2015 TOC winner, trailed Roth by one shot to start the second round. He said The Monument was a tough test on a windy, cool day.

  “The greens are tricky and very undulated, and you have to be under the hole (with your shots) or you are going to have some very fast putts with big breaks,” he said. “It was windy today, too. I felt like I did a pretty good job of getting the ball around. There are a couple of bogeys I wish I had back, but I made some good up and downs to keep momentum going. All-in-all it was solid.”

  Roth, a Boyne Golf Academy instructor who shot 7-under 65 in the first round on The Alpine, agreed and said he always tiptoes around The Monument.

  “You can’t play The Monument like you own it because it can come up and grab you on four or five holes and then it just kind of destroys your confidence,” he said. “I didn’t play as good as I did yesterday. I didn’t putt as good as I did yesterday, but yesterday was a really good day. It’s hard to play a really good round after a really good round. If you do that, you are probably running away with the tournament, and this is not happening.”

  Hebert, the 2009 TOC winner and the winningest Michigan PGA Section golfer in history with 16 major titles just ahead of 15 for Roth and legend Al Watrous, said he isn’t hitting his driver especially well but has made just three bogeys in two rounds.

  “That’s pretty good stuff around here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to The Alpine for the last round. You can score a bunch if you get it going, and the greens I think are little better over there. I’m happy with a 69 today. All you can do is give yourself a chance, and in the last group is a chance.”

  Kelpin said he thinks The Alpine is a great course for a great championship.

  “It should be a good last day,” he said. “I will be playing with great players and you have to play well and you have to score. I feel good about that and I hope to keep my game going.”

SCORING: Live scoring, complete results and tee times can be found HERE

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