BOYNE FALLS – Sam Weatherhead of Grand Rapids birdied four of the last five holes for the second consecutive round at the Tournament of Champions Tuesday and called it late lightning.
Late lightning, in this case a 6-under 66 by Weatherhead on the Monument course for a 9-under tournament total, leads a packed leaderboard into Wednesday’s final round in the $65,000 championship at Boyne Mountain Resort.
“The putter has been working great for a two-week stretch,” said the 26-year-old mini-tour player, former Michigan State University standout and 2016 Michigan Amateur Champion.
“I’ve been making some small adjustments with the putter and it has been saving me strokes left and right.”
An 18-foot birdie putt on No. 18 that circled the cup gave Weatherhead his one-shot lead on two players – 58-year-old senior amateur Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid, who shot 67, and PGA Tour Canada player Otto Black of Pinckney, who shot 70.
The leaderboard shows 10 players within four shots and 15 within five shots in the tournament that brings together championship-winning juniors, seniors, professionals, and amateurs of both sexes, all playing for one title from different tee positions.
The final round will be played on the Alpine course with a two-tee start Wednesday morning. Weatherhead, Gunthorpe and Black will tee off at 9:30 a.m. The 36-hole cut fell at 7-over 151 with 60 players earning another round.
Benny Cook, last summer’s Michigan PGA Professional Champion from Caledonia, shot himself into the mix with a 65 for a 7-under total. He’s tied with Jeff Cuzzort, a golf services teaching professional at Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club, who shot 70.
A pair of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame players were next at 6-under – five-time winner Jeff Roth of BOYNE Golf Academy, who shot 72, and PGA Tour Champions player Tom Werkmeister of Hudsonville, who shot 71.
Mini-tour players Jake Kneen of White Lake, who shot 71, Alex Scott of Traverse City, who shot 70 and first-round leader Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, who shot 74, made up the group at 5-under, four shots off the lead.
Weatherhead, whose late charge included a two-putt for birdie on 14, a 30-foot birdie putt on 15 and a tap-in birdie at 16, will take the birdies when he can get them in the final round because he expects a low score will be needed.
“There’s going to be good scores out there tomorrow and I’m just going to try to keep the foot on the pedal and go as low as I can,” he said.
Weatherhead finished second here in 2018, falling in a playoff to Scott, who shot a record-tying 61 to tie in the final round.
“It would be great to get it this time, especially because it’s here in Michigan and I’ve played against most of the people in this field,” he said. “And I love it here. Boyne is great. I really enjoy coming up here to play and I’m fortunate to have won a Michigan Amateur so I get to come up here and play in this for the rest of my life.”
Gunthorpe, a contractor from Lansing who recently qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, was surprised he was at the top of the leaderboard.
“I just knew I was playing well,” he said. “When I get it going I don’t change my thinking. I just try to put all 18 together for a good score.”
Black, awaiting the Canadian border opening so he can return to playing on tour, said he had a good start and feels good about his game and the final round being on the Alpine.
“I played well on the Alpine (Monday, 6-under 66) and I feel like that gave me some momentum,” he said. “It’s going to take a good score. I feel good. I’m playing well. My game plan worked in the first round and I’ll go with it again.”
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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.