ACME – The first time was a charm for Bradley Smithson.
The Michigan State University golfer from Grand Rapids played The Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort for the first time in competition and set the pace through one round of the 104th Turtle Creek Casino Michigan Open.
The 20-year-old junior-to-be Spartan shot a 6-under 66 Monday just ahead of 65-shooting mini-tour professional James Holley of Howell, who like Smithson shot his round in the windy afternoon wave.
“I had a lot of really good (yardages) all day and when you are getting good numbers you normally try to attack some of the different hole locations,” Smithson said. “So, it’s what I did and a couple of putts went in. It was good.”
Smithson will lead the field of 156 into Tuesday’s second round. A 36-hole cut to the low 70 and ties will follow the round. Play continues through Thursday for the $80,000 purse announced Monday by the Michigan Section PGA and title sponsor Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel.
Amateur Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Ile teaching professional Jeff Cuzzort shot the best rounds of the morning, 3-under 69s, and were tied for third.
Last summer’s Michigan Amateur Champion Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor, Connor Jones, a mini-tour player from Auburn Hills, Grand Blanc’s Logan Price, who just finished his collegiate career at Florida Gulf Coast, and Bryan Haase, an amateur from Interlochen, each shot 70.
Defending champion Brett White of Caledonia was part of a crowd at 71 as 15 golfers were under par.
Smithson played the back-nine first and was 2-under going to the front where he birdied Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 in a 32 to key the round.
“I feel good about my game,” he said. “I tried to figure a couple of things out before coming up here and it’s nice to see that they’re actually showing up and producing a decent score.”
Smithson said he didn’t play as well as he would have liked for MSU this spring, but he came to the Open thinking win.
“That’s always the goal – why play a tournament you are not trying to win,” he said. “I mean, I wanted to come up here to play solid for all four rounds and give myself a chance on Thursday to come out and do something fun.”
Holley, 29, has been a regular on the leaderboard since he moved to Michigan four years ago from Los Angeles. He and his wife own a dog park and he plays his golf at Prestwick Village Golf Club in Highland. He plans another try at Korn Ferry Qualifying in the fall with the help of a California sponsor.
For now, he has his eye on winning the Michigan Open on The Bear course he enjoys playing.
“I like playing in the wind and it’s usually pretty windy here, and it’s a good layout,” he said. “It’s tough to keep the doubles off the scorecard, and it’s always in good shape.”
Two eagles on the front-nine par 5s keyed his round. He hit a 5-iron shot inside two feet with his second shot on No. 3 and knocked a 6-iron shot to about two feet on No. 6.
“Anytime you get two kick-in eagles it’s pretty good,” he said. “I made the same number of threes on par fives as I did on par threes today so that’s not a usual thing. I made a 40-foot snake (putt) on one to save par to start the day. It was different. Here I try to keep the big numbers off the card and it’s not easy. You are going to make bogeys just by kind of missing the wrong spot. You just try to keep going.”
For complete round 1 scores click HERE
ABOUT GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT & CASINOS: Owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos offers world-class gaming, golf, dining, and spa amenities in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The premier properties include Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, and Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge, along with EDC ventures Turtle Creek Market, Eagletown Market, and more. For more information, visit www.gtbindians.com, www.turtlecreekcasino.com, www.grandtraverseresort.com.