BATTLE CREEK – Jay Jurecic of Crystal Falls in the Upper Peninsula, a 50-year-old sixth and seventh-grade West Iron County math teacher most of the year and a mini-tour golf professional in the summer, won the 39th Club Car Senior Open Championship presented by ADN Administrators Tuesday.
Playing in his first Senior Open, the math teacher counted just one missed green in two days and shot a closing 3-under 69 for a 9-under 135 total at Bedford Valley Golf Club, just enough for a one-shot win over Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club.
“I’ve been working hard on my game lately and its starting to come around” said Jurecic, a two-time winner over several summers playing the Dakotas Tour. “I played well for the two days. I really focused on my shots, visualized my shots and hit a lot of good ones. I’ve played in the Michigan Open several times – I think my best finish was an eighth – and now that I’m 50 I thought I would come down and give this one a try.”
Hebert, a native of the U.P. himself, followed up a first-day leading 65 with a 71 for 136, and the next four spots were filled by Michigan Golf Hall of Famers, too.
Jeff Roth of Boyne Golf Academy birdied his last three holes of the day for a second consecutive 69 and 138. PGA Tour Champions player Tom Werkmeister of Hudsonville shot 73 for 139. Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Golf & Learning Center in Plymouth closed with a 72 for 142 and tied with low senior amateur Greg Davies of West Bloomfield, who had a final-round 70. Roth, Werkmeister and Cairns are all past champions of the tournament, too.
“I never could figure out the speed of the greens today,” Hebert said. “I hit the ball better today than yesterday when I shot 65, but I didn’t score.”
In the over-age-65 Super Senior competition, Hall of Famer Randy Erskine of Lake Orion, another past champion, shot a second-consecutive 70 for 140 to win. Mike Parker, an amateur from Lapeer, was second among the super set with a 70 for 142.
“Since I got home from Florida I’ve played horrible, but when the tournament came around my game came around,” said Erskine, a five-time Michigan Open winner who is 73. “In a tournament my mindset is better, I concentrate better. I can’t beat the young kids anymore, but I really enjoy competing.”
Jurecic, largely unknown among a field of 125 golfers that included 14 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members, teaches school most of the year and then devotes his summers to golf. He turned professional in 2000 to chase the PGA Tour dream, and now that he is 50 plans to chase the PGA Tour Champions dream, too.
“I played two years full-time, but I’ve been teaching for about 22 years and playing in the summer to keep the dream alive,” he said after accepting the $2,600 first-place check.
“I’ll be 51 in July and we’ll see what happens with this senior stuff. It feels great to win this. My sister (Pam) came over from Midland and caddied for me. It was fun. I’m headed back to the Dakotas and hopefully I’ll keep the game going like this.”
He said he held his round together with a birdie on the par 5 13th.
“I hit a 2-iron on that green (second shot) and made birdie following a bogey on 12,” he said. “I stayed aggressive and hit a couple really good 2-irons on a couple of the par 5s today.”
Hebert trailed Jurecic by three shots with four holes remaining but rallied with two birdies in his final four holes.
“Had a three-putt bogey today that really hurt and just didn’t get anything going, at least soon enough,” he said.
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