Houtteman Wins Playoff, Michigan PGA Professional Championship
Lee Houtteman of Cedar Survives Playoff to Win Michigan PGA Professional Championship
FLINT – Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage in Cedar said he didn’t want to say his best years are behind him.
“But they probably are,” said the 57-year-old teaching professional after he made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole to top Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club and win the 97th Michigan PGA Professional Championship at Flint Golf Club Wednesday.
“So at 57 coming here and winning is really tremendous. I can’t say enough about how good it feels with all these great young players. And being in a playoff with Scott adds frosting to the cake. We used to teach together and I’ve probably played 50 rounds of golf or more with him. He’s a great friend, who five or six years ago helped me with my putting. Amazing how things work out.”
Houtteman, who won the PGA for the first time and a Michigan Section major for the third time, shot a closing 3-under 69 with a birdie on the par 5 No. 18 hole, the same hole used in the playoff to finish with a 9-under 207 total.
Hebert, an eight-time champion and the winningest Michigan PGA golfer in history with 16 major section titles, shot 70 for his 207.
Scott Brotebeck, the host professional, rallied with the low round of the day, a 5-under 67, to thrill the Flint Golf Club members and finish at 208, one shot out of the playoff.
Houtteman and Hebert actually finished one shot behind Ben Cook of Cascade Hills in Grand Rapids, who shot 69 for 10-under 206, but he wasn’t eligible to win the section title under a Michigan PGA rule that requires 60 days of employment in the Michigan Section of the PGA prior to the major championship.
Cook did win the $6,700 first place check out of the $54,000 purse, but he was competing in the tournament to earn one of nine spots for the 2019 PGA Professional National Championship at Belfair in Bluffton, S.C., next April 28-May 1.
“I beat everybody, won a nice check and I get to go to the PNC,” Cook said. “Those were my goals this week. I understand the situation. This is great for me and my confidence.”
Hebert and Roth, a four-time past champion, who shot a closing 68 for 210 and fifth overall, will be going to South Carolina next spring as exempt players for being past national championship winners.
The nine who will join them are Cook, Houtteman, Brotebeck, Bob Ackerman of Bob Ackerman Golf Academy in Commerce Township, who shot 70 for 211, Travis Dodson of Meadowbrook in Northville, who shot 74 for 211, Brian Cairns of Fox Hills in Plymouth, who shot 71 for 212, Josh Fryer of Franklin Hills, who shot 75 for 212, Kyle Martin of Lochmoor in Grosse Pointe Woods, who shot 70 for 213, and defending champion John Seltzer of Blythefield in Grand Rapids, who shot 70 for 213.
Martin made a birdie in a three-golfer playoff with Seltzer and Steven Vecellio of Birmingham for the last two spots. Seltzer won the other spot after seven holes in the playoff, and Vecellio will be the first alternate.
Houtteman, who played with Cook in the second-to-last group, said he ignored the fact the former Ferris State University golfer was on top of the leaderboards late in the round. He battled Hebert, who led everybody for a portion of the round, because he wanted his name on the Gilbert A. Currie Trophy.
“Putting my name on that trophy is spectacular,” he said. “I mean some of the names on that are really impressive. I’m just humbled to have my name be on that beautiful trophy. I knew Ben couldn’t take the trophy, so I was ignoring him and watching the leaderboard.
“I knew I had to make a birdie on the last hole to have a chance at a playoff with Scott. I had about a 10-footer straight in on that one. I expected Scott to birdie in regulation and the playoff, but it didn’t happen.”
Houtteman said he wanted to thank fellow competitor Jack Seltzer of Jack Seltzer Academy in Grand Blanc who gave him a swing thought to work with after Sunday’s practice round.
“It clicked,” he said. “I want to thank Jack. That’s what is unique about golf – a fellow competitor will help you in the same tournament. It doesn’t happen in any other sport.”
Hebert said he was unhappy about his putting over the last 12 holes and in the playoff, but happy for his longtime friend Houtteman.
“I was half-rooting for Hootie out there,” he said. “I’m just disappointed with how I putted. The first seven or eight holes I played nicely. I’m sure I was leading at the time, but then the rest of the way I could not make putt, not a five-footer, not a 10-footer, nothing. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, and I do feel good for Lee. He has been a great player for a long time in this state.”
RESULTS: See michiganpgagolf.com for the scores
SPONSORS: The Michigan PGA Professional Championship is presented by Club Car and OMEGA with supporting sponsors Titleist/Footjoy, TaylorMade, Nike, Golf Channel and the PGA Tour.
VIA Greg Johnson