BOYNE FALLS – Manistique’s Michael Nagy won on the Dakotas Tour 10 days ago and proved to himself that he can close the deal when he gets the chance, and he gets another chance Wednesday in the final round of the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort.
The 24-year-old mini-tour golfer shot a 4-under 68 on the Monument course Tuesday to hold the lead by one shot in the $55,000 tournament that features men, women, juniors, seniors, professionals and amateurs playing from different tee positions for the same title.
Nagy’s 9-under 135 total was just ahead of a trio of golfers at 136, including 2011 TOC champion Lee Houtteman, who shot 68 and has been battling bladder cancer the last four months, this summer’s Michigan Open champion Matt Thompson of Marshall Country Club, who shot 69, and Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center, who shot 69 and just last year was the PGA of America’s national Senior Player of the Year.
Three more golfers checked in at 138, three off the lead. That group included five-time TOC champion Jeff Roth of Farmington, NM, who shot the day’s low round of 6-under 66, Boyne-sponsored mini-tour player Joey Garber of nearby Petoskey who shot 70, and defending champion Korey Mahoney of Manton, the insurance salesman who had back troubles flare up in a 72.
“I’m looking forward to the final round,” Nagy said of the move back to the Alpine course for the final 18 holes of the 54-hole $55,000 championship.
“It’s a traditional golf course, and it is right there in front of you, and winning as a professional gave me that confidence boost I needed. I proved to myself I can close the deal when I get the chance.”
The 56-year-old Houtteman, who shot 68 for his 136, said he will just be free-wheeling in the final round that will include 64 golfers who made the cut at 9-over 153.
“I’ve been in the hospital four times in the last two months with a catheter, so playing golf, are you kidding?” he said citing a chance after more therapy to fully recover because the cancer was isolated to the bladder.
“I didn’t worry about one shot today. If it is good, it is good, and if it is bad I go find it. Before, I tended to get a little too much into it. In the long run it might turn into a positive. I eat much healthier now, and I feel lighter and stronger.”
Cairns, 53, had an eventful round. He made a 12-foot breaking birdie putt at No. 15 to move into a tie with Nagy, but then topped his tee shot at No. 16 about 15 yards and made a bogey. He also said he fell out of his golf cart while driving it on the ninth hole.
“On the tee shot I was joking around too much and maybe getting a little too loose,” he said. “Falling out of the cart – I just wasn’t paying attention, going down a hill off the cart path and went for the brake and missed it. The cart went right around and came back next to me, too. I’ve never done that one before.”
He said his adventures and a bit of a bruise on his hip will not keep him from being ready for the final round.
“I was making putts, too,” he said. “And I love the Alpine. I’m going to have to make some more putts there. I look at that leaderboard and nobody is going to shoot a high score.”
Thompson, 27 and playing in his first TOC after winning the Michigan Open in June, had an interesting finish to his round. He was in double-digits under par, but made bogeys on two of his last three holes (Nos. 7 and 9).
“I hit one short of the green and didn’t get up and down, and then I three-putted my last hole,” he said. “I’m still not sure how I did it. I was playing pretty solid until there. I eagled No. 10 (3-wood second shot to 15 feet) and had a good round going. I feel like I didn’t really hit a bad shot, but made two bogeys coming in.”
Roth, who is 59, missed just one green and made six birdies in a bogey-free round.
“Everything was going well today,” he said. “I’m back into it and happy about that. It’s going to take another great round.”
Mahoney, 33, was headed to get a massage for his back after his round.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said for the final round. “This has never happened to me before. I hit a lot of touch shots on the last nine holes just trying to get in. It really tightened up on me about my seventh hole.”
Nagy three-putted No. 10, a par 5 and his first hole of the day, but then made five birdies without a bogey the rest of the way to take the lead.
“I just tried to keep the ball in front of me,” said the former University of Tennessee golfer. “(The Monument) has some tricky holes so I hit a lot of irons off the tees. The round wasn’t anything too flashy again today, but I was pretty solid after the first bogey.”
The Michigan PGA will use a two-tee (Nos. 1 and 10) start for the final round with the final group (Nagy, Thompson, Cairns) going off at 9:30 a.m. off No. 1.
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