98th Michigan Open Starts Monday

HIGHLAND – Top PGA Professionals, tour players and amateurs, including three newly inducted Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members will be part of the starting field of 156 golfers when the 98th Michigan Open Championship presented by LaFontaine Cadillac plays out Monday through Thursday at Prestwick Village Golf Club.


Six-time Michigan Open champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, Dave Kendall of the Kendall Academy of Golf in Ypsilanti and one of the state’s top amateurs, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield, will be part of the 2015 class inducted Sunday with LPGA star Kelly Robbins in ceremonies Sunday at Ferris State University, the home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.


On Monday Hebert, Kendall and Davies start the state championship with a field that includes 10 former Michigan Open champions, including three more golfers who are in the Hall of Fame – 2013 champion and amateur Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood, five-time champion Randy Erskine of Lake Orion (1976, ’78, ’79, ’84, ’85) and three-time champion Steve Brady of Oakland Hills Country Club (1991, ’92, ’96).


Two-time champion Bob Ackerman of Bob Ackerman Golf (1975, ’03), Barry Redmond of Boyne Resorts (1989) and Tim Matthews of Scotts, Mich., are other veteran former champions playing next week, while the younger set is represented by Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, who tied the 23-under all-time tournament scoring record of Chick Harbert in winning in 2012, 2011 champion Randy Hutchinson of Traverse City and 2007 champion Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon.


Defending champion Ryan Brehm of Mount Pleasant, who also won back-to-back in 2009 and ’10, is playing on the PGA Tour Canada circuit this year and did not enter.


Joey Garber of Petoskey, who was second a year ago, is involved in U.S. Open qualifying, which conflicts on the schedule with the Michigan Open. That’s also the case for some others like touring players Willie Mack III of Flint and Matt Thompson of Battle Creek.


One of the more interesting entrants is Mount Pleasant’s Doug LaBelle, who in recent years has been a regular on the PGA Tour.  He played in a sectional qualifying event to make the field.


Top players in the Michigan Section of the PGA are in the field as always, including Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth, Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage in Cedar, Matt Pesta of Lincoln Hills in Birmingham, Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson, Thomas Harding of Kendall Golf Academy and the host professional, Prestwick’s own Brent Goulding.


Sponsoring LaFontaine Cadillac is one of 22 LaFontaine Automotive Group franchises in 16 locations across southeast Michigan, and for the second consecutive year will present the Michigan Open champion with a one-year lease on a new Cadillac. This year’s winner will drive away in a 2015 SRX.


Prestwick will challenge the field with a variety of golf holes, including some links style, traditional parkland and some carved from woodlands.


Located just north of Milford in Highland Township on 426 acres of natural, rolling terrain amid a family-focused community, Prestwick was designed by architect Ron Garl.


The Michigan Open was first played in 1916 and won by Leo Diegel, who also played in the inaugural Ryder Cup matches and The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. Many of golf’s most famous have their names listed on the Michigan Open’s James Standish Trophy including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Al Watrous, Walter Burkemo, John Barnum, Marvin Stahl and more recent stars Buddy Whitten, Lynn Janson and J.R. Roth. They all happen to be in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as well.


Play starts Monday at 8 a.m. The field will play 72-holes with a cut after 36-holes to the low 70 scorers and ties. The public is welcome free of charge.


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