BOYNE FALLS – Long-ball lefties from the Grand Rapids area, Brett White and Bradley Smithson, charged to the front in the 30th Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort Monday.
White, home from the Korn Ferry Tour for a few days, shot a 7-under 65, and Smithson, a Michigan State University golfer, followed with a 66 on the Alpine course.
The $65,000 54-hole championship that brings together Michigan championship-winning male, female, senior and junior golfers playing from different tee positions for the same title continues through Wednesday. Tuesday’s play moves to the Monument course after which a 36-hole cut will be made to the low 60 scorers and ties. The final round Wednesday is back on the Alpine.
White, 29, playing in the Tournament of Champions for the first time and playing the Alpine for the first time, said he enjoyed the course and always loves playing golf in his home state.
“Breathing that good Michigan air up here, I guess,” said the 2020 Michigan Open champion after a round that started strong with an eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 5 hole.
“I had a great drive and then hit a 4-iron to like four feet. That was one of my best shots of the day for sure and it settled me down. Last night we grabbed a cart and GPS and busted around to kind of map out a plan. You don’t get the elevation changes until you’re out there though. I feel really good about the way I handled it. Good start. Right where I want to be.”
Smithson, the 2021 Michigan Open champion who played in the afternoon like White, had an early eagle help him, too. He played the back nine first, teeing off with half the field on that nine and made his eagle-3 on No. 12. He also had two other early birdies and was 5-under after 5 holes and ended up shooting a 6-under 30. He brought it in on the front nine with seven pars, a birdie on the par 5 No. 8 hole and then a bogey to finish at No. 9.
“That was a sloppy bogey on 9, hit it right then tried to go over the trees, hit the trees and made a mess of it, but that was really the only hole I played that way,” he said. “I was solid and after the first nine I thought I would get the two par 5s (for birdies) and maybe a couple more. I didn’t, just didn’t hit the same quality of shots, but I’m right there and feeling good about it.”
Beau Breault, a mini-tour player from Howell and a past Michigan Amateur champion, topped the morning wave with a 68 and was third after the first round.
Scott Hebert, director of golf at Traverse City Golf & Country Club, the 2009 TOC champion and one of seven Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members in the field, was one of three golfers who opened with rounds of 69.
The others: Mike Raymond, a 66-year-old amateur from Jackson who recently won the GAM Super Senior Championship for golfers over age 65, and veteran teaching professional Frank McAuliffe of Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville.
Two more senior pros, Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Golf & Learning Center, and Ron English, a PGA Life Member from Charlotte, were next with opening 70s.
Nine golfers shot 71 and 17 players were under par for the first round.
White said the Korn Ferry Tour has been tough.
“I’ve been making some cuts, but I could use a couple of 65s out there for sure,” he said. “I just haven’t had top-10 finishes that you kind of need out there. It’s a learning experience for sure. I’m hitting the ball solid. Sometimes the putts don’t drop. Today, a few dropped for me.”
Smithson, who is playing in the TOC for the fifth time, said it was his best round in the tournament.
“I’m in a good spot, playing to win and looking forward to the next two days,” he said.
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ABOUT BOYNE MOUNTAIN RESORT: Boyne Mountain has been a favorite Midwest destination since 1948. The family-owned, four-season resort has earned Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor, and has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler readers as being among the top 50 Best Places to Ski and Stay in North America. The waterpark is listed among Budget Travel’s Top 10 Indoor facilities and the resort is a readers’ choice favorite of Spa Magazine. Boyne Mountain is home to The Alpine and The Monument golf courses, as well as 60 runs on 415 skiable acres. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, Solace Spa, Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark, Zipline Adventures, disc golf facilities, lift-serviced mountain biking, beach activities, kids programs, lodging, meeting, and wedding facilities as well as real-estate are offered at the resort.
BOYNE Golf is a collection of ten courses at three resorts The Highlands, Boyne Mountain Resort and the Inn at Bay Harbor located within 15 miles of Petoskey, MI. Beyond the world-class golf, Boyne Golf is centered amid one of America’s most beautiful vacation spots. The scenic Lake Michigan beach towns of Charlevoix, Harbor Springs and Petoskey are minutes away, and a side trip to Mackinac Island is easily managed. Guests can enjoy award-winning spas, waterfront dining, sandy beaches, watersports, gaming, microbreweries, wineries, hiking, biking, tennis, zip-lining, shopping and more capped by the spectacular northern Michigan sunsets. For more information on BOYNE Golf, visit www.BOYNEgolf.com.