Lilleboe Leads Tournament of Champions At Boyne Highlands
Eric Lilleboe of Okemos Leads Heading to Final Round at Tournament of Champions
BOYNE FALLS – Eric Lilleboe said he was a little hot after catching a bad break and making bogey on No. 12, and then missing what he termed a pretty easy putt for birdie on No. 13 of the Monument course at Boyne Mountain Resort Tuesday.
An eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 14 hole putt made the mini-tour professional from Okemos feel better though, and it powered a 6-under 66 to give him a one-shot lead on Sam Weatherhead of Grand Rapids heading into Wednesday’s final round of the 27th Tournament of Champions.
“I hit a good wedge shot on 12 and it ended up spinning off the green and I made a bogey, which hurt because I was right next to the hole at one point,” said Lilleboe, a former Ferris State University golfer who topped the leaderboard at 12-under 132.
“I ended up making eagle on 14 though. I hit a 5-wood in there to about 15 feet and made it. That was really big for me. I really thought I caught a bad break at 12. The eagle turned my round around.”
Weatherhead, a former Michigan State University golfer with playing status on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, also shot 66 to land at 133.
The third-place golfer, mini-tour player Randy Hutchison of Traverse City, another former Spartan, finished four shots behind Weatherhead after also shooting a 66.
First-round leader Chris Mory, another former Michigan State golfer and currently a teacher at the Jason Guss Academy in the Lansing area, shot 73 for 138 to stand fourth.
Defending champion and mini-tour player Mike Nagy of Manistique, who shot 69, Meadowbrook Country Club pro Travis Dodson, who shot 70, and this summer’s Michigan Open champion, amateur Jake Kneen of White Lake, who shot 71, were each at 139.
The 36-hole cut to the low 60 scorers and ties fell at 7-over 151, and 61 golfers will play the final round on the Alpine course to determine a winner.
The $55,000 unique championship launched 27 years ago with juniors, seniors, professionals and amateurs of both sexes all playing for one title from different tee positions. All the golfers invited have won selected significant Michigan golf championships, both amateur and professional.
Lilleboe, 30, feels he is ready to win another significant Michigan title.
“It seems like I’m ready, I feel like I’m ready,” he said. “I’m right where I want to be – in position to have a chance to win.”
Lilleboe, who used to work at Boyne Mountain Resort for the golf operation, has played the Monument several times.
“I’ve played the Monument enough to know where you have to land the ball,” he said. “I hit my driver better today, and I picked my landing spots pretty well.”
In contrast, the 23-year-old Weatherhead played the Monument on Tuesday for the first time.
“Never seen it before,” he said. “That was the thing I was proud of today. I’ve never played this course so to be able to play smart and do the right thing every time, play conservative when I saw there was trouble ahead, worked for me. I think I’m just getting a little bit smarter at the game. I’ve been around the block one more time now.”
SCORING: Scores and tee times are available via a link found at www.michiganpgagolf.com
via Greg Johnson