LANSING – Benny Cook of Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland celebrated his 28th birthday with a bunch of birdies in winning the Michigan PGA Section Match Play Championship presented by the PGA Tour Wednesday at Country Club of Lansing.
Cook shot 6-under in a morning semifinal match to knock out Jim Deiters of Midland Country Club, 2-up, and then made an eagle and five birdies in shooting 7-under over 16 holes to top Darren Husse of Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, 3 and 2, in the afternoon championship match.
“I’m really playing the best golf of my life right now,” said Cook, who heads to Florida this weekend to prepare for the second stage of the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Qualifying that starts Oct. 19. The PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player and teaching pro from Caledonia is exempt through the first stage this year.
“It was great to win this and kind of keep the momentum going,” he said. “I had to go make birdies. Jim (Deiters) was rolling in bomb putts this morning, and Darren was obviously playing well with all the birdies he made this morning.”
For the win Cook, who earlier this summer won the Michigan PGA Professional Championship and was the low club professional in the PGA Championship won by Phil Mickelson, received the $3,200 first-place check and will have his name placed on the Jim Picard Plaque.
The 38-year-old Husse, who made the final 16 in match play for the first time, dispatched two-time champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City 7 and 5 in the morning semifinal behind six birdies in his first eight holes.
“You have to wake up really quick after beating a player like Scott in the morning and then having to play Ben,” said Husse, an assistant professional at Warwick who earned $2,100 as runner-up.
“I made a lot of putts this morning from everywhere and you know, I played well this afternoon, too. Ben just beat me, so I can’t really be disappointed. I didn’t beat myself. I just got beat by a better golfer today so I can accept that.”
Cook, who has also wrapped up Michigan PGA Player of the Year honors, said the summer competition in the Michigan Section has helped him keep his game at a high level heading into the fall.
“There are some unbelievable players here in Michigan,” he said. “Scott (Hebert), Jeff (Roth), Brian (Cairns) have all played all over out there and they are still amazing, and then you have Jim (Deiters) and Darren (Husse) today. It’s great to have the competitive rounds that keep me going, and it’s just a lot of fun to be out here, too. We get to play on some amazing courses and that’s helped me, too. I’m excited to go to Q-School, grind it out and hopefully get to the final stage and see what kind of job I have for next year.”
The final day of the Match Play was played one week after it was washed out by heavy rain. The tournament dates to 1980 and is considered one of the four major Michigan PGA championships along with the Michigan Open, Michigan PGA Professional Championship and Tournament of Champions.
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