Smithson Maintains Lead After Two At 2021 Michigan Open
ACME – Steady brisk winds blew others off course, but Bradley Smithson moved five shots in front at the Turtle Creek Casino Michigan Open Championship.
The Michigan State University golfer from Grand Rapids shot a 5-under 67 on The Bear course Tuesday to lead the state championship for the second consecutive round and stand at 11-under 133.
“It’s pretty cool to be in the lead at this one,” said Smithson, the son of PGA golf professional Gary Smithson, who now works with Yamaha Golf Cars Plus.
“I remember being up here at Opens riding in a cart with my dad and he always played well here. I guess it’s come full-circle. He (Gary) is watching me now and giving me advice.”
The closest chasers are a pair of Ann Arbor golfers. Patrick Wilkes-Krier, a 37-year-old teaching professional for Kendall Golf Academy at Miles of Golf, shot a 67 for 138, and he was joined there by Tyler Copp, last summer’s Michigan Amateur Champion, who shot 68.
Four golfers finished at 141, eight off the lead, including Howell mini-tour professional James Holley, who shot 74, Josh Gibson of Sunnybrook Country Club in Grandville, who shot 70, Bloomfield Hills amateur Grant Haefner, who shot 72, and Auburn Hills mini-tour player Connor Jones, who shot 71.
Defending champion Brett White of Caledonia stayed in the mix at tie for 11th with a 72 for 143.
The 36-hole cut to 70 low scorers and ties was made at 8-over 152 with 71 golfers moving on to the third round. Play continues through Thursday in the $80,000 championship. Third round play will start at 8 a.m. and the final group will tee off at 11:50 a.m.
TV 9&10 of Cadillac is planning to have a camera crew on hand to follow the final two groups over the last two rounds and livestream the feed. It can be found at the following link: https://www.vuit.com/live/16207/wwtv%20-%209&10%20news%20plus
Smithson’s 67, on the heels of a Monday 66, came with a double-bogey 6 on hole 11 where he thinks maybe the wind finally got him.
“I really still don’t know what happened,” he said. “It was a flush iron shot and then it flew the green.”
Forced to take an unplayable lie penalty, Smithson made a double-bogey 6. He followed it up with a par save from a greenside bunker on No. 12 and then made birdies on the par 5 No. 15 hole and the par 4 No. 18 hole.
Playing to a front right pin at 18, Smithson hit a drive down to the large pond that fronts the green. He had 86 yards left to the hole location and used his 60-degree wedge to knock it to six feet for birdie.
“I didn’t let the double-bogey get to me,” he said. “They happen here. I knew there was a birdie chance at 15 coming in to get one back, and another one would be a bonus. I got that, too.”
Wilkes-Krier said the wind wasn’t a problem on the front nine, but on the back nine it became difficult.
“I did not expect that,” he said. “I guess I took advantage of the course when it played a little easier, and then I would have liked to make some putts on the back to kind of replicate what I had going on the front.”
Wilkes-Krier, a former assistant golf coach at the University of Michigan, said as a teaching professional he has no expectations in the Open.
“I just try to come out and play the game and today it was good for the front nine,” he said.
Copp, playing as an amateur for one last summer after graduating from Mercer University in Georgia, overcame a double-bogey 6 on the tricky par 4 No. 5 hole. He made an eagle 3 on the downwind par 5 No. 15 hole. He hit an 8-iron second shot to 11 feet and made the birdie putt.
“It was windy out there and I didn’t get off to a good start,” he said. “Then I started controlling my ball flight a little bit more to hit better tee shots. I think tee shots are so critical here.”
He likes his position at the halfway point but prefers not to think about score yet.
“There are a lot of holes left, a lot of golf to play,” he said. “I feel good about the way I’m playing. You never know what is going to happen over the next two days. You just have to keep playing smart, playing your game, and hopefully you stay in the mix and have a chance in the last round.”
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via Greg Johnson