HIGHLAND – Benny Cook has only played one tournament since taking two top 5 finishes on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, which ended a curtailed schedule in June, but his golf game hasn’t missed a shot.
“It’s been a really good year trying to keep things really simple and stay away from bogeys,” said the defending champion after shooting a 6-under 66 with a bogey to get through the first round of the 100th Michigan PGA to run Professional Championship on Monday at Prestwick Village Golf Club.
Cook, a PGA instructor at Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, hasn’t won since the Michigan PGA Professional Championship last year, but he made this year a highlight by making the 36-hole cut and being celebrated Low-club pro in the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, SC, in May (tie for 44th place).
“I’ve been really happy with my game all summer,” he said.
Kosta Ramirez, the Head Pro of the Masterpiece course at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, was delighted with the 65, which he shot to second place in the first round. He said it was his best lap on his seventh appearance in the championship.
Flint Golf Club’s Scott Brotebeck shot 68, two of them in the lead, and Great Oaks Country Club’s Garrick Hunger and Sun Mountain salesman Chris Sullivan checked in at 69 each.
The four 70-year-old golfers were led by five-time champion Jeff Roth of the Boyne Mountain Academy. The others: reigning Michigan PGA Match Play Champion Kyle Martin of Lochmoor Club, Kyle Dobbs of Walnut Creek and Jim Dieters of Midland Country Club.
Cook said Prestwick Village played fast and hard and liked it.
“I had a bogey and I didn’t even hit a bad shot,” he said. “The greens are very different from how I played them, very fast and the chipping is tough. I chipped briefly from the green to 11 in the rough and the ball just rolled out faster than I thought. I got to my goal, but it just kept dripping on 15 feet and I went bogey. I am not complaining though. I like quick greens and they are perfect. All you have to do is start it online. “
He started it on the line enough to make five birdies and an eagle-3 on the par 5 # 15 hole with a 3-wood from the tee and a 7-iron shot at seven feet.
“This course is longer than Flint (Golf Club) last year which will probably help me,” he said. “It’s a good start. We’ll try to keep going. “
The field of 122 will be reduced to the bottom 60 scorers and ties after the second round on Tuesday. The final round will be on Wednesday in the 54-hole championship, which will determine who will take home the check for first place of $ 54,000 in prize money as the 100th Gilbert A. Currie Trophy champion and a sponsorship waiver for the trophy receives the PGA Tour’s 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.
Ramirez, 30, and in his freshman year at Treetops after working at Bloomfield Hills Country Club, said he had played decently this year, but a good round at the Michigan PGA was overdue.
“The putter got around,” he said. “I have a slightly faster pace when putting, which has helped me with short putts. I saw my old head pro Mike Erickson (Bloomfield Hills). He came out yesterday and gave me a few tips. Of course it worked today. “
Ramirez made seven birdies on his round, including a 4-under 32 on the second nine.
“I’ll try to come back tomorrow with another good lap,” he said. “I think my best result is a tie for 40th place. It’s fun to play well. “
The championship also serves as a starting point and qualification en route to Major Championship Golf with the world’s best players at the 2022 PGA Championship, which will be played in May at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
The nine golfers at the end of the tournament, alongside Cook, Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, Roth, Tim Pearce of Birmingham Country Club, and Cody Haughton of Red Run Golf Club, who are already exempt, will play in the PGA 2022 Professional National Championship next April at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.
The bottom 20 finishers of this national club pro championship will play with the best players in the world at next year’s PGA championship in Southern Hills.
The historic 100th Michigan PGA Professional Championship is presented by Cadillac, ROLEX and Club Car with supporting sponsors Nike, TaylorMade, Titleist / Footjoy, the Golf Channel and the PGA Tour.