Jeff Cuzzort and Chris Mory Share Lead, PGA Tour Vet Tom Gillis Charges in 100th Michigan Open
HIGHLAND – Jeff Cuzzort said his short game saved him from bad golf. Chris Mory said he played mostly mistake free for the second consecutive day. And Tom Gillis came charging, surprising only himself.
Cuzzort, the 2015 champion from Grosse Ile who shot 70, and Chris Mory, a teaching professional from Haslett who shot 69, shared the lead at 7-under 137 at the halfway point of the 100th Michigan Open Championship presented by LaFontaine Cadillac Tuesday at Prestwick Village Golf Club.
Just one back is Gillis; the Laker Orion resident who is just one season removed from the PGA Tour, turning age 49 in July and awaiting a shot at the Champions Tour. He shot a 6-under 66 for 138.
“Gilley was hot today, but that was expected,” Cuzzort said. “A tour player of his caliber, you know he is going to do that kind of thing. I think the only reason I was able to stay under par and shoot 70 was working hard to stay ahead of him.”
The field of 156 golfers was cut at 151, and the 79 remaining players play through Thursday in the $57,500 tournament. The winner not only receives first-place money, but a two-year lease on a new Cadillac from sponsoring LaFontaine Cadillac.
Several golfers remain in the mix, including Berkley High School golfer Jake Radom of Royal Oak, a University of Arizona commitment who shot 69 for 140, and mini-tour golfer Joe Juszczyk of Dearborn Heights, who shot a second consecutive 70 for 140.
Defending champion Jeff Bronkema of Wayland shot 70 and is one of three golfers at 141. Also there are two-time Michigan Open runner-up Matt Thompson of Franklin, who shot 70, and mini-tour pro Patrick Colburn of Traverse City, who shot 67.
Tom Werkmeister, the amateur from Grandville who won the Michigan Open in 2013, shot 70 for 142. Also at 142 are Willie Mack III of Grand Blanc (71), Wes Gates of Novi (73) and amateur Francesco Ruffino of Bloomfield (72).
Mory, a former mini-tour player who took a job two years ago teaching with the Jason Guss Academy at Hawk Hollow Properties, said he is very happy with the way he is playing.
“Maybe getting older and having a good perspective from coaching and teaching has helped me play mistake-free,” he said. “It helps to teach one shot at a time, and that is what I’m trying to do out there.”
He said he isn’t really feeling pressure, just enjoying playing.
“Now that I’m teaching it is not my job to play well anymore, but it is fun to do,” he said.
Cuzzort said he spent the day slashing and gashing, and went to the range to work on some things.
“Hey, there’s two more days and if this is my bad day and I still managed to stay up there, then it’s a good day,” he said. “It would have been an easy day to just let the score go, but I fought hard and I’m in a good spot.”
Gillis, who taught a high school golf team this spring, said he has played maybe 10 rounds this year and teed it up this week to support the 100th anniversary of the Michigan Open. He didn’t expect to shoot a 66 and get in the mix for the final two days.
“I putted well for two days and that was encouraging,” he said. “For the last five years on tour that was one of my best stats. When you take time off like I have, you wonder how you are going to putt, but so far so good. I’ve actually had a great short game for as little as I’ve played.”
The two-time Michigan Open champion (1994 and 2008) said he isn’t totally prepared to make a run at the championship.
“But when you have done it for 25-years plus, you get in there and have fun,” he said. “It’s always fun when you get in there and play for it. That is what you play for.”
Some extra excitement was produced in the second round when Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, the 2012 Michigan Open champion, made seven consecutive birdies on the first seven holes of the course in shooting a 68 for 146. In his 2012 win at The Orchards in Washington Township Kelpin tied the all-time tournament scoring record of 23-under first set by Chick Harbert in 1942.
Also, Brandon Barrows of Lake Orion, made a hole-in-one on the par 3 No. 3 hole in shooting a 70 for 146.
COMPLETE RESULTS: Can be found at www.michiganpgagolf.com
VIA Greg Johnson