BOYNE FALLS – Kalamazoo’s Barrett Kelpin missed the cut last week at the PGA Tour Latinoamerica stop in Tulum, Mexico, but he said he has been playing well lately.
“I gave myself a lot of pretty good looks at birdie and I managed to make a pretty good amount of putts in the 15 to 20-foot range so it ended up being a good day,” he said after firing a 7-under 65 on the Alpine course to lead after the first round of the 29th Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort Monday.
“I made an eagle on 12 (his third hole with a back nine start) and that got me off and running. I had it going today, and I felt good.”
He had several golfers in close pursuit, including five-time champion Jeff Roth of BOYNE Golf Academy, and Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada player Otto Black of Pinckney, who each shot 66.
Also, PGA Tour Champions player Tom Werkmeister of Hudsonville and Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile shot 67, and mini-tour players Jake Kneen of White Lake and Beau Breault of Howell shot 68.
With seven players also at 69, including 2018 champion Alex Scott of Traverse City, it’s a packed leaderboard in the unique tournament that includes juniors, seniors, professionals, and amateurs of both sexes, all playing for one title from different tee positions.
The field of 115 will play a second round Tuesday – this time on the Monument course – with a 36-hole cut to the low 60 scorers and ties. The final round in the $65,000 54-hole championship is Wednesday on the Alpine.
Kelpin, 32, has proven he is comfortable well under par in the past. In 2012, in his first professional tournament after graduating from the University of Iowa, he won the Michigan Open Championship at The Orchards Golf Club in Macomb County tying the record score of 23-under 265 set in 1948 by Chick Harbert at Tam O’Shanter Country Club.
“I could have gotten up and down on the two par fives on the front nine, but I’m not going to wave off a 65,” he said after seven birdies and the eagle on the Alpine. “I had a good day and we’ve got two more rounds to go. I hope to keep it rolling.”
Roth, 63 and a winner two years ago in the TOC, said he started his round with three consecutive birdies and missed just two greens in regulation.
“There’s just something about being here at Boyne Mountain or down at (Boyne) Highlands where I just feel real comfortable and cozy,” he said. “I’ve had some bad play up here, but not a whole lot. I just over the years have a sense for how to navigate certain shots, and today I just kept myself in the present. I kept saying just one shot in a row, just one show in a row.”
Black, awaiting the Canadian border opening on Aug. 9 so he can return to Canada for the Mackenzie tour stops, said he had a good pairing playing with Roth and Frank McAuliffe.
“You know Roth is going to shoot something low on this course so you want to get it going, and the course is in great shape and I just gave myself a lot of good looks at birdie,” he said. “There was nothing crazy. I kept it in front of me and made some putts. Everybody in the group was playing good so it just kind of flowed.”
The Monument offers a different test for round two, said Kelpin, who finished second to Roth in 2019, the last time the championship was played due to pandemic issues.
“You have to think your way around and put the ball in the right spot on the green and try to have uphill putts all day,” he said. “So I’ll try to make good choices off the tee and put the ball in the right places.”
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ABOUT BOYNE MOUNTAIN RESORT: Boyne Mountain Resort 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 (Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, and 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.