Roth Leads After One At 2019 Michigan Tournament of Champions
Five-Time Champion and Boyne Employee Jeff Roth Sets Pace at 2019 Michigan Tournament of Champions
BOYNE FALLS – Jeff Roth, one of Michigan’s winningest professional golfers, would love to win a sixth Tournament of Champions this week.
“Winning never gets old,” said the 61-year-old Boyne Golf Academy instructor after he opened with a 7-under 65 on the Alpine Course at Boyne Mountain Resort to lead through the first round of the 28th Tournament of Champions.
“I get old but winning never does.”
Roth, who won his first TOC title in 1995 and added titles in 1996, ’99, 2008 and 2012, had a one-shot lead on another former TOC champion, 66-shooting Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, the 2015 champion.
Otto Black of Brighton, like Kelpin a PGA Tour Latinoamerica player, shot 67, and Randy Hutchison, a mini-tour player from Traverse City, shot 68.
The 2017 TOC winner Mike Nagy shot 69, as did Dan Urban, the head pro at Gull Lake Country Club.
A crowd of 10 golfers shot 70 including two-time TOC champion Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon, 2009 winner Scott Hebert, 2018 PGA Match Play Champ John Seltzer of Grand Rapids, last year’s runner-up Sam Weatherhead of Grand Rapids, amateur Henry Do of Auburn Hills, Chad Kurmel of the Spartan Golf Academy at Forest Akers in East Lansing, Kyle Martin of the Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Ile’s Steven Cuzzort, now of Naples, Fla., Jay Horton, now of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Kurt Valley, now of Monroe, Wash.
Eight golfers shot 71, including 2016 winner Korey Mahoney of Manton. Touring pro Shasta Averyhardt of Flint was the low woman in the field in the group that shot 72, and Suzy Green-Roebuck of Ann Arbor shot 73.
A second round in the $55,000 championship will be played Tuesday, this time on the Monument Course, with a cut to the low 60 scorers and ties following. Wednesday’s final round will be on the Alpine.
Roth, one of 18 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members in the field, had eight birdies in his round and said he played great from start to finish.
“Right on the first hole I had a good look at it and didn’t make it, but then on the second hole I took on the pin and made a 15-footer for birdie, made a birdie on the next hole and made a birdie on the next hole, and I was off and running,” he said. “I also made a couple of really nice par putts that made it possible to keep going. Par putts sometimes feel like birdie putts and I made a couple of them.”
Long one of the state’s top players with a putter in his hand, Roth said the number of players who have the ability to win this championship has increased over the years as champions have been added.
“It used to be 12 to 15 guys that you knew you really had to beat in the early years, but now there’s 25 to 30 really good young players who can really play,” he said. “I won one year at 2-under. That’s not a score that’s going to do it any longer.”
Roth loves the tournament.
“Over the years my family and I have had a lot of great times up here,” he said. “Now being a Boyne employee up at the Highlands, it is just great to be able to represent the company like this. I love helping people get better at their golf, and this gives me a chance to compete.”
Kelpin, 30, called his day solid with seven birdies.
“The wind direction was pretty constant so I felt like there were some holes to take advantage of and I was able to do that,” he said. “I made a couple of really long putts – a 50-footer on No. 2 – that was a nice little bonus.”
Kelpin is gearing up for the second half of the Latinoamerica schedule, which starts in September, and he will attempt PGA Qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour in the fall as well.
“I’ve had a productive summer working on what I needed to work on, and it’s great to come up here,” he said. “It always feels like a vacation and a golf tournament all in one, and I got off to a good start today.”
SCORING: Live scoring, complete results and tee times can be found at michiganpgagolf.com
via Greg Johnson