LANSING – When Lochmoor Club head professional Kyle Martin finds time to practice his golf game, he most often chips and putts instead of heading to the practice tee.
“It can obviously save you and I proved that today,” Martin said after winning the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship Wednesday at Country Club of Lansing.
He had to fight off five-time champion Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Golf & Learning Center in the afternoon championship match, 1-up, and won the Match Play title for the second time. His first Michigan Section major championship win was in the 2015 Match Play at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath.
“My driver wasn’t the greatest in the final match, but my short game kept me in there,” Martin said. “Then I made some birdies on the back nine and that got me through.”
Martin, 36 and a Grand Rapids native in his first year as head pro at Lochmoor in Grosse Pointe Woods after serving several years as an assistant, turned back Scott Cook, the 30-year-old general manager at The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe in Grand Rapids, 3 and 2, in the morning semifinal round.
Cairns, 56, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and a finalist eight times in the Match Play Championship, knocked off defending champion, fellow Hall of Famer and 17-time section major championship winner Scott Hebert, the director of golf at Traverse City Golf & Country Club, 3 and 1, in the other semifinal.
“To get this one is great,” Martin said. “It was really nice to get the monkey off my back and to get another win. It is the match play, but it’s a major and I now I want to get one of the stroke play ones for sure, too.”
Martin never trailed in the final match and even led 2-up after winning the par 5 No. 6 and par 3 No. 7 holes with chip-and-putt par saves.
Cairns jumped back into the match and evened things up by the turn. He won No. 8 with a 35-foot birdie putt, and No. 9 with a par when Martin couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker.
Martin went up again with a two-putt birdie on the 616-yard par 5 No. 12 hole, which he reached in two shots, and then Cairns tied the match at the par 5 15th with a conceded birdie after Martin had tree troubles off the tee.
The final lead for Martin came at No. 16, a short par 4 where he hit his approach shot from the right rough to three feet for birdie. The duo traded pars on No. 17 and traded birdies on No. 18. Cairns hit it to within one foot for a conceded birdie on his final approach shot, and Martin made the six-footer for his final birdie to tie the hole and seal the win.
“I made birdies to get the lead early against Scott this morning, and then made some good par saves, and then against Brian I made the saves early and the birdies later,” he said. “It was great playing against Brian. He cracks me up with some of his antics, but I’ve always looked up to him and (Scott Hebert) and it was a pleasure to play against Brian. He isn’t easy to beat. We joke that he can get up and down from a garbage can, and he can, so he’s ever out of it by any means. It’s a treat to beat him.”
Cairns joked that beating long-time rival Hebert in the semifinal made his week, and then offered that Martin has expanded his game in recent years.
“K-Mart has a great short game, and he’s added a nice fade out there, too,” he said. “It’s great to see he keeps working on his game and is taking it to the next level. I don’t mind losing to a guy like him, it was a beautiful day and the golf course was just spectacular. The greens were perfect. I have no excuses. Kyle beat me. He’s a true gentleman and a good player.”
The complete bracket and results can be found by clicking HERE