Six-Time Winner Scott Hebert Heads Field in Michigan Open Championship

    ACME – It’s Back to The Bear for the 101st Michigan Open Championship next Monday through Thursday, June 11-14, and 14 former champions, including nine who won their titles at The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, are coming, too.

   Among the 14 is Scott Hebert, who won his record-tying six Michigan Open titles on The Bear between 1997 and 2006.

  “It certainly affords me the chance to play in it, that’s for sure,” said Hebert, who is head golf professional just across town from Grand Traverse at Traverse City Golf & Country Club.

  Grand Traverse Resort and Spa hosted the state’s best golfers in the storied Michigan Open Championship 28 times between 1981 and 2008, and in the last 25 of those years The Bear course helped identify the champion.

  The return in 2018 is aided by the presenting sponsorship of Yamaha Golf Cars Plus and MercyElite Sports Performance with additional support from Pepsi and Traverse City Tourism.

  Hebert, who turned 49 on Monday, June 4, was previously the head golf professional at Grand Traverse Resort, and worked for the golf operation there after college. He won most of his Michigan Open titles while playing mini-tour golf around the country, lived and worked in the Grand Rapids area and then returned to Traverse City to work for the resort once again and most recently Traverse City G&CC.

  He was the state’s dominant golfer for a 10-year run and usually demonstrated it at The Bear.

  “If I had to pick a golf course for me to compete on, that would be one of them,” he said. “I think it is a better golf course for me than the last few venues for the (Michigan) Open. There is more of a premium on ball-striking. People will not make as many birdies out of the rough as they have the last few years. I’ve had good experiences there, and a few bad, but mostly good that I can draw off. I have played a lot of rounds on it.”

  Hebert, who won the PGA Professional National Championship in 2008, has played the Jack Nicklaus-designed course in recent years.

  “It really hasn’t changed that much,” he said. “It’s still a great golf course. I think if the young guys who bomb it reel in the driver a little bit, they will be fine. You can hit it too far in some spots. They get cut off. Really only on the par fives can they let it all hang out, and that course has kind of always been that way.”

  He said The Bear’s teeth come on the second shots as always.

  “You can make a double-bogey from any fairway out there,” he said.

  He hasn’t had much time to practice or play this year with the winter weather that lingered into spring, but he said he will approach it like he did school work.

  “I’ll cram for the test and get ready,” he said. “I really want to have my game ready for the PGA Professional National Championship, which is the following week on the Monterey Peninsula (Bayonet Blackhorse of Seaside, Calif.).”

  Hebert isn’t the only multiple winner at The Bear who is going Back to The Bear next week.

  Steve Brady, the director of golf at Oakland Hills Country Club, won his three Michigan Open titles at The Bear (1991, ’92 and ’96).

  Tom Gillis of Lake Orion returned home and won his two titles in 1994 and 2008 at The Bear while juggling a PGA Tour and international touring career.

  And Jeff Roth, the 1998 and 2004 champion at The Bear, returned to Michigan this year from New Mexico to work for Boyne Golf. He is back in the field, too.

  Bob Ackerman, whose second of two titles came in 2003 at The Bear, is also back as are Bear champions Tim Matthews (1986), Jack Seltzer (1987), Barry Redmond (1989) and Andy Ruthkoski (2007).

  Rounding out the group of 14 former winners in the field are Randy Hutchison (2011), Barrett Kelpin (2012), Tom Werkmeister (2013), Jeff Bronkema (2016) and defending champion Matt Thompson.

  The Bear champions are part of an elite field that also includes Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth, recent Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductee Tom Harding of the Kendall Golf Academy in Ypsilanti and former PGA Tour player Doug LaBelle of Mount Pleasant.

  Several of the state’s professional touring players like Willie Mack III of Grand Blanc, Eric Lilleboe of Okemos and Chris Mory of East Lansing are in, as are recent Michigan PGA Tournament of Champions winners Mike Nagy and Korey Mahoney.

 As always, many state’s top collegiate and amateur players are in the 156-golfer starting field, too.

  The Michigan Open was first played in 1916 and won by Leo Diegel, who also played in the inaugural Ryder Cup matches and the first Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. Many of golf’s most famous have their names listed on the Michigan Open’s James Standish Trophy including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Al Watrous, Horton Smith, Walter Burkemo and John Barnum.

For live scoring click HERE

Learn more about Grand Traverse Resort at grandtraverseresort.com. Learn more about the Michigan PGA and the championship at michiganpgagolf.com. Media Contact: Greg Johnson 616-560-8995, greggie24@hotmail.com

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