BOYNE FALLS – Otto Black, a Mackenzie-PGA Tour Canada professional from Pinckney, fired out of the blocks with a 7-under 29 on the front nine of the Alpine course, ended up shooting 9-under 63 and rolled to victory in the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort Wednesday.
“It’s great, unbelievable,” he said after accepting the Walter Burkemo Trophy, the traditional green jacket awarded the champion, a lifetime BOYNE Golf membership, and the $9,000 first-place check.
“This is a tournament I play in every year and it’s something I really wanted to win in my career. I’m so grateful to win. It’s just awesome. It means a lot to me just because it’s in our home state and my name will be on the trophy with all the great players who have won it.”
Black, headed back to Canada when the border opens in August, birdied the first three holes and kept going.
Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile shot 31 on the front nine, and shot a final 65 to finish second, but he trailed by five shots after Black birdied Nos. 16 and 17.
“I felt great all day, played great, Otto just didn’t let me in,” said Cuzzort who teaches and provides golf services at Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club.
“I shot the best round I’ve shot here in forever, so I feel great about that. I love playing up here. Boyne is so great. Hard to feel bad about being second to a score like that, too.”
Black, 27 and a pro since 2016 after playing at the University of Toledo, made his only bogey on the day at the par 5 No. 18 hole when he hit an 8-iron layup shot 202 yards into the pond in front of the green.
“Adrenaline I guess,” Black said. “I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard. I was going with my game plan. I really thought I was playing it safe.”
Black’s 63 was two shots off the course record of 61, but his 17-under 199 total set a tournament record in the 29th edition of the championship that brings together championship-winning juniors, seniors, professionals, and amateurs of both sexes, all playing for one title from different tee positions.
“My putting was great all week and I just kept giving myself good looks for birdie,” he said. “The greens were so nice and I just felt like I could make great putts every time.”
Cuzzort ended up three shots behind at 14-under 202 for second, and Jake Kneen, a mini-tour professional from White Lake, shot 67 for 206 and third place.
Sam Weatherhead of Grand Rapids, the leader starting the final round, shot 73 for 208 and tied for fourth with Evan Bowser of Dearborn, who shot 68.
Defending champion Jeff Roth of BOYNE Golf Academy, a record six-time winner of the championship, shot 71 to close at 209, tied with first-round leader Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, who shot 70, and Jay Jurecic of Crystal Falls, the recent Club Car Senior Open winner, who shot 68.
Black, whose last win was a mini-tour event in Florida two years ago, said when he made the turn after nine holes and realized he was 7-under, he decided to try and make more birdies.
“I tapped into some previous tournaments,” Black said. “Two years ago I nearly won down in Latin America and I remembered when you start like that, you can’t take a step back, you have to keep pressing forward and that’s what I did out there. I thought let’s get it to 10 and go as low as we can.”
Black, now a Naples, Fla., resident for seven months of the year, plays next in the Iowa Open. He thanked his grandmother Judy and wife Megan for making the trip with him to Boyne.
“I’m alone on the road a lot, so it was great to have family here with me,” he said. “I love coming up here. It’s a great tournament, a great place to be with your family and play golf.”
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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.