105th edition of the state championship is on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

ACME – Several golfers gave chase, but Patrick Wilkes-Krier maintained his lead through two rounds of the Hall Financial Michigan Open Championship presented by Turtle Creek Casino and Caesars Sportsbook on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

The Kendall Academy teaching professional from Ann Arbor shot a second-round 3-under 69 Tuesday to follow his first-round double-eagle fueled first-round 64 for 11-under 133.

He has a four-shot lead over two hot chasers in the suddenly record summer heat – Joe Juszczyk, a mini-tour professional from Dearborn Heights, and amateur Colin Sikkenga of Kalamazoo who is headed into his final year at Oakland University. They each shot 9-under 63s, one off the course record, to land at 137.

“There is a lot of golf to go, and players going well under par out there, but I feel like my game is there,” Wilkes-Krier said. “Today I just kept waffling back and forth between terrible and then I’d make a couple of birdies, and then it would get terrible again and then I would make a couple of birdies again. So it’s not far off. I hope to find it again over the next two days.”

Coalter Smith, a University of Wisconsin golfer from Grosse Pointe Farms, shot 65 to check in at 138, and Zach Sudinsky, a former Eastern Michigan University golfer who is now a professional, also shot 65 for 139.

Meanwhile, Jake Kneen of White Lake, a mini-tour professional and the 2018 champion, stayed in the mix with a 71 for 139, and Westland mini-tour player Donnie Trosper was also six off the lead at 139 after a 72.

Juszczyk didn’t realize he was one shot off the course record of 62. He was at 10-under through 15 holes and on pace but lipped out a birdie putt at No. 16 and failed to get up and down from the bunker for a bogey at No. 17.

“I wasn’t really thinking too much about how I was playing,” he said. “I was just kind of, it’s cliche, but staying in the moment. I just was kind of telling myself that, you know, regardless of what you shoot today, the goal isn’t to shoot a great round one day – it’s to put yourself back in position with a lot of golf left to play.”

Juszczyk, 35, made two eagles in his round on the par 5 No. 3 and the par 5 No. 15 hole and said the putts were dropping in the round that tied his best score in competition.

“I worked on a little something with my (putting) stroke this morning and it made a big difference,” he said. “Sometimes just focusing on one thing, one small change can kind of take your mind off any of the negative stuff that you might be thinking about or be worried about. I think that that was the difference today.”

Sikkenga, whose round featured six birdies in a 6-under 30 on the back nine, said the 63 was his best score ever in or out of competition.

“I just had a lot of looks today and struck the ball well, so it gave me a lot of birdie putts inside of 15 feet and I made a few of those which got the confidence up,” he said. “When you start to see the ball go in the hole it’s good.”

Sikkenga, 22, said he struggled during his spring college season with his putting.

“So that’s what I really been working on recently and it seems to be paying off,” he said. “I’m still striking the ball well and the putts are starting to drop. That really helps the rest of the game.”

The cut to the low 70 scorers and ties fell at 7-over 151. The 73 surviving golfers move on to the third round Wednesday in the 72-hole championship with the leaders going off at Noon. The Michigan Section PGA announced Tuesday the professionals will be playing for a purse of $85,000 over the next two days.

ABOUT HALL FINANCIAL: David Hall started in the mortgage business in 1996 and his passion for the business and his clients has never been stronger. After working for others for over 20 years, David started Hall Financial in 2016 with the core mission to be the most client-focused mortgage company in the industry. Media contact for Hall Financial: Mark Gildersleeve, Vice-President-Marketing & Strategy, 248-590-0131, mgildersleeve@hallfg.com. Website: callhallfirst.com

ABOUT CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.: Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) is the largest casino-entertainment Company in the U.S. and one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, NV, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment, Inc. has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. For more information, please visit. www.caesars.com/corporate. Media contacts; Brad Harwood, bharwood@caesars.com, Jeffrey Sanders, jesanders@williamhill.us.

ABOUT GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT & CASINOS: Owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos offers world-class gaming, golf, dining, and spa amenities in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The premier properties include Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, and Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge. Media contact for Grand Traverse Resort: Caroline Rizzo, public relations manager, 231-534-6352, crizzo@gtresort.com. Website: www.grandtraverseresort.com.

PGA MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Johnson, 616-560-8995, gregeeee24@gmail.com. Website: michiganpga.com