Brad Dean, Lee Houtteman Share Lead at Fast and Firm Egypt Valley In Michigan PGA Championship
ADA TOWNSHIP – Brad Dean of Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville and Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage in Cedar handled the fast and firm conditions best and shared the lead through the first round of the 94th Michigan PGA Professional Championship at Egypt Valley Country Club Monday.
Houtteman, 54, shot his 2-under 70 in the morning wave, and Dean scored the same in the afternoon on the Ridge course. The field of 132 will play The Valley course Tuesday in the three-day, 54-hole $52,000 state championship for Michigan PGA professionals.
Just four golfers finished under par with Kyle Martin of Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods and Gary Smithson of Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids shooting 71s.
Five golfers shot even-par 72 headed by Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth, a three-time past champion including 2013. He is back in Michigan after playing in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Also at 72 were John Pershern, Martin’s boss at Lochmoor, Steve Vecellio of Birmingham Country Club, Gary Lewandowski of St. Ives at Tullymore Golf Resort in Stanwood and Jason Guss of Hawk Hollow in Bath.
Defending champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club shot 77 to start.
The field will switch to Egypt Valley’s Valley course for the second round, and the Championship layout of the two back nines will be used for Wednesday’s final round. A cut to the low 60 and ties will follow Tuesday’s second round.
Houtteman, 54 and the 2012 Michigan Senior PGA Champion, said the Ridge course demanded precise shot making in the first round.
“I didn’t miss a fairway except for the last hole, and I hit it to the greens in the right spots,” he said. “The greens are fast. You get above the hole or on the wrong sides of the greens here and it is trouble getting up and down. I had two great up-and-downs to save par on the back and that really kept my round together.”
Dean, 49 and like Houtteman one of the top players in the Northern Chapter of the Michigan PGA, said he had not played the course in 15 years, but hit solid shots and had a good putting day.
“It was tough out there, but when I’ve played lately I’ve played well,” he said. “I feel pretty confident right now. Hopefully I can put a couple more good rounds together over the next few days. “
Houtteman, who made five birdies to thwart three bogeys and two three-putt holes, said he still loves to compete and feels like he has improved with age.
“We have good genes in our family, and there’s nothing like competitive golf, having to make a putt and hit a shot in there,” he said. “I don’t hit it as far anymore, but I know what I’m doing a little better and here hitting in the right spots helps you out and I did that.”
Dean, as director of golf at Crystal Mountain, said he limits himself to this one tournament each year because of family and work responsibilities.
“I look forward to getting away for a few days, playing competitive golf and seeing friends I haven’t seen in long time,” he said after his round of three birdies against one bogey at the par 4 No. 11. “It’s even more fun when you play well.”
Martin, who grew up in nearby Rockford and enjoyed his family’s membership at Egypt Valley as a youngster, said the course played the fastest and firmest he has ever seen it.
“That’s the way it is designed, to be tough when it is firm and fast,” he said. “It was all that. I thought my local course knowledge might help me, and maybe it did on a couple of shots. But it was tough.”
The Michigan PGA Professional Championship is presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA with supporting sponsors Titleist/Footjoy, Nike Golf, TaylorMade-adidas, Ashworth Golf and the PGA Tour.
See www.michiganpgagolf.com for more information, live scoring and tee times. Gallery is welcome. Parking and admission are free. More information on Egypt Valley is available at www.egyptvalley.com.
via Greg Johnson