Hayes, Preston, Ruthkowski, Thompson On Top At 99th Michigan Open

Andrew Ruthkowski is one of four who lead after the second day at the Michigan Open 2016
Andrew Ruthkowski is one of four who lead after the second day at the Michigan Open 2016

Scott Hayes, Drew Preston, Andrew Ruthkowski and Matt Thompson share the lead at 6-under after the second day of the 99th Michigan Open. The tournament is being staged at Prestwick Village In Highland Township. The Michigan Open is presented by LaFontaine Automotive Group.

Journeyman pro and 2007 champion Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon, who shot 4-under 68, two-time runner-up and mini-tour player Matt Thompson of Battle Creek, who shot 67, mini-tour player and first-round co-leader Drew Preston of Ada, who shot 70, and Kendall Golf Academy teaching pro Scott Hayes of Ann Arbor, who shot 66, each checked in at 6-under 138 after two rounds of play Tuesday.

On their heels, one shot back at 139, is defending champion Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile, who shot 68, 2013 champion Tom Werkmeister of Grand Rapids, who shot 69, Okemos mini-tour player Eric Lilleboe, who shot 69, and Dearborn amateur Evan Bowser, who shot 69.

The 36-hole cut fell at 6-over 150 with 78 golfers moving on to the final two rounds.

“I didn’t finish the way I wanted it, but I’ve done too many positive things the first two days to let the two late bogeys get me down,” said the 25-year-old Preston, who bogeyed two of his last three holes (Nos. 7 and 9) for a 70 and fell from a two-shot advantage he had held on the field for much of the round.

“I caught a high lip from less than three feet and then missed another three-footer for a three-putt at 7, and then just hit it in the bunker and made bogey on 9. I’m going to try and think about the good things though. I’ve been putting great the first two days, and that’s the key with these greens as fast as they are.”

Thompson, 26 and runner-up in 2009 and ’11, said he made some putts.

“The greens here, you have to put the ball in the right spot and I’ve been fortunate to do that for the first two days,” he said.

Thompson, who had six birdies against one bogey, said he likes his position, and that finishing second in the past in the state championship drives him.

“It would be nice to win one and get all my friends off my back,” he said.

Ruthkoski, 33, said his 68 could have been better, but he is pleased with his position at the halfway point.

“You want to give yourself a chance going into the third round,” he said. “The greens are quick, but everybody has to play them and the rough is up around the greens, too. It’s going to come down to who keeps focus out there the last two days.”

Hayes, who was runner-up in 2007 to Ruthkoski, was surprised to learn he was tied for the lead.

“I was just trying to make the cut, I’m super happy,” he said. “It was a great round. I shot 30 on the back nine. I teach full-time, and get to play a little. Tied for the lead feels good.”

The group at 140, just two shots off the lead, included former Michigan Amateur champion Andrew Chapman of Traverse City, who shot 68, Eastern Michigan University golfer Kyle Rodes of Plymouth, who shot 71, and Wayland mini-tour player and a runner-up last year Jeff Bronkema, who shot 69.

Early in the day Randy Hutchison of Traverse City, the 2011 champion, made big noise with two eagles in his first six holes for a 7-under start. He was 9-under through 10 holes before a couple of three-putt bogeys cooled him off. He finished with the low round of the day, a 65, and is at 143, five off the lead.

“I got to 9-under with a birdie at 10 and all kinds of crazy thoughts got in my head,” he said. “The greens are tough though. I’m just glad I got back in the race and played a lot better than (Monday with a 78).”

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