Smithson Defends At Michigan Open Starting Monday

Bradley Smithson Holding The 2021 Michigan Open Trophy

Bradley Smithson Defends Starting Monday in Hall Financial Michigan Open

104th edition of the state championship on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, June 13-16

  ACME – Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids was just the seventh amateur golfer in the first 104 tournaments to do it.

  The Michigan State University golfer is planning to try and do it again; win the Hall Financial Michigan Open presented by Turtle Creek Casino and Caesars Sportsbook, the 105th edition of the state championship, when it is played next Monday through Thursday on The Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

  Smithson heads the field of 156 golfers, including Michigan Section PGA professionals, touring professionals, the state’s top amateur golfers and nine other former champions.

  “Winning the Michigan Open didn’t sink in at first,” Smithson said. “While I was doing it I was just playing well and I just kept trying to play that way. At the end I had the trophy, it’s the biggest win of my life and it all seemed amazing.”

   Smithson went wire-to-wire to win and walked a wire of intense final-day drama on The Bear. He trailed by two shots on No. 18 tee in regulation play but birdied to land in a playoff when Ann Arbor teaching professional Patrick Wilkes-Krier missed the green and made bogey.

  Then playing No. 18 again as the first playoff hole, he chipped in from about 15 yards off the green for birdie matching Wilkes-Krier who hit it to eight feet and made birdie.

  Then the duo went to No. 16 where Smithson had made double-bogey 6 in regulation play with bunker trouble and a missed short putt, and he hit it to 10-feet and made birdie to win.

  The three consecutive birdies made him the winner, which meant Wilkes-Krier, the runner-up, received the first-place money of $12,000 from the $80,000 purse for professionals.

  “I’ve made three birdies in a row, but never like that in a big tournament like that,” Smithson said. “I’m a college golfer so I wasn’t thinking about money. I just wanted to win because this tournament always meant so much to my dad (Gary Smithson, PGA professional) when I would come and watch him play as a kid, so that made it mean a lot to me.”

  The purse for this year’s championship will be determined and announced during tournament week. It’s expected to be in the $80,000 range again.

  The championship features a new title sponsor in Michigan-based Hall Financial. David Hall, a top amateur golfer in the state, started Hall Financial in 2016 with the core mission to be the most client-focused mortgage company in the industry. Hall has played in several Michigan Opens over the years and felt supporting the state championship as a title sponsor would benefit the Michigan golf community as well as his expanding company.

  Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which has three golf courses, will be hosting the Michigan Open for the 33rd time, and this will be the 30th time the state championship has been contested on The Bear, a celebrated Jack Nicklaus design.

   In addition to Smithson, past winners taking on the Bear again include Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, who won his record-tying six Michigan Open titles on The Bear between 1997 and 2006, two-time champion Jeff Roth of Boyne Golf Academy (1998, 2004), Barry Redmond of Chelsea (1989), Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon (2007), Randy Hutchison of Traverse City (2011), Tom Werkmeister of Grand Rapids (2013), Jeff Bronkema of Wayland (2016), Matt Thompson of Hillsdale (2017) and Jake Kneen of White Lake.

  The Michigan Open was first played in 1916 and won by Leo Diegel, who also played in the inaugural Ryder Cup matches and the first Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. The championship annually attracts the top golfers in the state and its list of winners includes legends Walter Hagen, Al Watrous, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and Dave Hill, and more recent Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductees Randy Erskine, Buddy Whitten, Lynn Janson, Roth, Tom Gillis and Hebert. Recent PGA Tour winner Ryan Brehm is also a three-time winner of the historic James D. Standish Jr. trophy.

ABOUT HALL FINANCIAL: David Hall started in the mortgage business in 1996 and his passion for the business and his clients has never been stronger. After working for others for over 20 years, David started Hall Financial in 2016 with the core mission to be the most client-focused mortgage company in the industry. Media contact for Hall Financial: Mark Gildersleeve, Vice-President-Marketing & Strategy, 248-590-0131, mgildersleeve@hallfg.com. Website: callhallfirst.com

ABOUT CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.: Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) is the largest casino-entertainment Company in the U.S. and one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, NV, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment, Inc. has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. For more information, please visit. www.caesars.com/corporate. Media contacts; Brad Harwood, bharwood@caesars.com, Jeffrey Sanders, jesanders@williamhill.us.

ABOUT GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT & CASINOS: Owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos offers world-class gaming, golf, dining, and spa amenities in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The premier properties include Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, and Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge. Media contact for Grand Traverse Resort: Caroline Rizzo, public relations manager, 231-534-6352, crizzo@gtresort.com. Website: www.grandtraverseresort.com.

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