BY: Greg Johnson
WASHINGTON, Mich. – Familiar golf guys named Randy lead the 95 thMichigan Open Championship presented by DTE Energy.
Defending champion Randy Hutchison of Traverse City shot a 6-under-par 66, and five-time Michigan Open champion Randy Erskine of Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester shot a 5-under-par 67 to highlight the first round Monday at The Orchards Golf Club.
Hutchison, a 25-year-old mini-tour professional who shot 16-under-par and made a dramatic birdie on the last hole to win the title last year, picked up where he left off by holing a bunker shot on the second hole.
“That kind of got the momentum going,” he said. “All you can do is hit a good bunker shot, and if it goes in, it goes in. That was nice. It got the day off to a great start.”
Erskine, who won his five Michigan Open titles between 1976 and 1985 and will be 64 in two weeks, called his round surprisingly easy.
“I hit 16 greens in regulation and hit it close most of the day,” said the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member who is the oldest player in field. “I really didn’t see this coming. I haven’t practiced. I haven’t played. So it may catch me later in the week, but I hope not.”
Grand Rapids mini-tour professional Brian Ottenweller and Chester VandenBerg, a 23-year-old amateur and former Cornerstone University golfer from Martin, were tied with Erskine for second after shooting 67s.
Three-time Michigan Open champion Steve Brady of Oakland Hills Country Club, mini-tour pro Ryan Lenahan of Grosse Pointe, mini-tour pro Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile, 2011 Michigan Amateur champion Willie Mack III of Flint, amateur Nick Robeson of Clarkston, and former University of Iowa golfer Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo made up the group at 68, two shots back.
The field of 156 golfers will be cut to 70 low scorers and ties after Tuesday’s second round in the 72-hole championship. Play continues through Thursday. The public is welcome and admission and parking are free. Live scoring can be found at www.michiganpgagolf.com .
Hutchison, currently 10 thon the NGA Tour money list, said he is understandably comfortable at The Orchards, a Robert Trent Jones design.
“The course is really good and I really like it,” he said. “It sets up to my eye really well. That goes a long way for me. Any time you shoot 6-under in the first round you can’t be mad. I put myself in position for the next three days, and that’s really all you can ask.”
Erskine, a former PGA Tour and Champions Tour player and long-time head pro at Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester, said he loves to compete.
“I will compete until I can’t walk,” he said. “That’s the only thing that interests me in golf anymore is competing. The biggest parts of my life have been my Michigan Open victories, and I love to compete.”
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