Defending Champion Korey Mahoney Leads Michigan Tournament of Champions Again
BOYNE FALLS – Korey Mahoney picked up right where he left off shooting a 6-under 66 on the Alpine course to take the lead through the first round of the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort Monday.
The 33-year-old former mini-tour player from Manton, last year’s champion, is still selling insurance, and is playing in his only tournament of the year.
The opening 66 gave him the narrow lead on three golfers at 67 – this summer’s Michigan Open champion Matt Thompson of Marshall Country Club, mini-tour golfer Mike Nagy of Manistique and Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth.
Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage in Glen Arbor, the 2011 champion, and Joey Garber, a Boyne-sponsored mini-tour player from Petoskey, shot 68, and three golfers checked in with 69s – Oakland University golfer James Kneen of White Lake, former PGA Tour pro Tom Gillis of Lake Orion and last year’s runner-up, Eric Lilleboe, a mini-tour player from Okemos.
“I’ve been playing golf and getting ready for this week, and it feels great to get off to a good start,” said Mahoney who a year ago shot a closing 64 to win. “I have always loved this course and came close to winning here back when I was playing (mini-tours). I came back last year just to have fun and compete again, and it is kind of the same feeling this week. I play pressure free. I’m just here to have fun.”
The field of 115 golfers, all champions of selected significant Michigan golf championships, includes juniors, seniors, professionals and amateurs of both sexes all playing for one title from different tee positions. They play a second round Tuesday, this time on the Monument course, before a 36-hole cut determines the low 60 scorers and ties for Wednesday’s final round on the Alpine in the 54-hole $55,000 championship.
Mahoney said bogeys with tree troubles on Nos. 13 and 14 were the only problems in his round.
“I got refocused after that and birdied 15, 16 and 17 coming in,” he said. “I made sure I got a good round out of the way I was playing.”
Cairns, a senior professional at age 53, led the morning wave of tee times with his 67 and predicted somebody would top the score.
“It’s out there today because the golf course is in perfect shape and the wind just cools you off,” he said. “I had a no stress round. I stuck to my plan and hit driver every hole. I’m going to stay with the plan and stay aggressive.”
Thompson, playing in his first Tournament of Champions as the Michigan Open winner, shot 5-under 31 on the back nine with eagle on No. 12 and birdies on Nos. 13, 15 and 17.
“I had chances on the front and didn’t make anything,” said the 27-year-old former mini-tour player who just this year took the head professional job at Marshall CC. “Once I got that eagle putt to go in at 12 and made a good birdie at 13 the round jump-started.”
Nagy, a 24-year-old first-year professional coming off a $16,000 win on the Dakotas Tour eight days ago, said his round was nothing flashy.
“I managed to make some birdies and not make too many mistakes,” said the former University of Tennessee golfer. “I’ve been playing great and I’m trying to keep it going. Winning early in my pro career was definitely a big boost. I’m confident my game is going in the right direction.”
Steve Vecellio of Birmingham Country Club, who shot 70, had the shot of the day with a hole-in-one on No. 3. He hit a 5-iron 188 yards and it rolled in the hole for the fourth hole-in-one of his career.
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. Find out more at BOYNEGolf.com, boynemountain.com or call 866-759-1472.
SCORING: Results and live scoring at www.michiganpgagolf.com
via Greg Johnson