Two local players share lead after 1st round of Michigan Open
Posted By Jason Fielder, TV5 Sports Reporter - bio | email
Highland, MI -
Willie Mack III of Grand Blanc came to the Michigan Open Championship presented by LaFontaine Cadillac at Prestwick Village the day after he won a mini-tour event in Atlanta,Ga.
Joey Garber of Petoskey came to make his professional debut after a stellar college career at the University of Georgia and a much-needed week off.
And Mount Pleasant native and Grand Rapids resident Ryan Brehm flew the red-eye flight from Vancouver in Canada to Chicago with a connecting flight to Grand Rapids arriving at 9 a.m.Monday, and then drove to Prestwick Village and played.
They shared the lead through the first round of the 97th Michigan Openwith rounds of 7-under-par 65. The state championship continues through Thursday with a 36-hole cut after Tuesday's play to the low 70 scorers and ties.
Six-time former champion Scott Hebert of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, another mini-tour player, Ryan Lenahan of Grosse Pointe Shores, and Henry Do of Ypsilanti, a University ofNorth Carolina golfer, were tied for second after turning in 67s.
Dan Urban, an assistant professional at Prestwick, Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage in Cedar and John Seltzer of Oak Pointe Country Club in Brighton were next with 68s, and mini-tourpro Chris Mory of Haslett, and amateurs Brian Hayward of Grand Rapids, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield and Spencer Lendzion of Rochester Hills each shot 69.
Defending champion Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood and 2013 Michigan PGA champion Brian Cairns of Fox Hills in Plymouth were in the group at 70.
The field of 156 golfers found ideal scoring conditions on a sun-drenched day with little wind, and each of the three leaders said they played relaxed in part because they were backin Michigan.
"This is my first time seeing the course and it's pretty good," said Mack, who shot 66 to win a 36-hole Advocates Pro Golf Tour event in Newnan, Ga., Sunday. "I drove in last nightand got about five hours sleep and I've been playing pretty good. I'm on a little bit of a hot streak."
Mack, 25 and in his third year as a professional with six mini-tour wins, made eight birdies in his round and said he likes the Prestwick course he played for the first time.
"It suits my eye," said the 2011 Michigan Amateur champion. "I like the greens and made some putts today and we'll try to keep it going the next three days."
Garber, who was ranked the No. 1 collegiate golfer by Golfweek/Sagarin earlier this year, took a week off and went to a friend'sbachelor party in Chicago over the weekend. He said he really played with no expectations.
"I feel refreshed and it's nice to be back in Michigan playing golf," he said. "I think I just felt comfortable. I wasn't worriedabout my score or grinding it out. I felt like I was freed up and I made eight birdies. That was nice."
The 22-year-old who in 2010 was the first person to ever win the Michigan Amateur Championship and the Michigan Junior Amateur inthe same year, rolled in a 50-foot putt for birdie on the par 4 16th, and hit a 4-iron from the fairway bunker at 18 to six-feet for another birdie.
"This is a special week for me, starting my professional career at home and getting off to a good first round as a professional," he said. "This round puts me in a good place heading into the next couple of days."
Brehm, another former Michigan Amateur champion (2007) who won the Michigan Open in 2009 and '10, said after flying all night anddriving that he didn't have any expectations.
"I've been playing good on the PGA Tour Canada and the competition is ridiculously good," he said. "I just wanted to make everyeffort to play in the Michigan Open. I love the ambiance of the tournament and if it fits in my schedule I'm going to play it. It means a lot to me. I was born and raised in Michigan and I still live here."
He eagled the par 5 first hole, which was his 10th hole of the day, when he holed out a sand shot from a green-side bunker, and then went on to make four birdies in his last six holesfor a front-nine 6-under-par 30.
"This is the most relaxed I've played in a long time because I think I was loose and tired," he said. "Plus, the weather was perfect; the greens were holding shots so it was prime scoringconditions."