FLINT – Brent Goulding said he figured something out in a practice session before the first round of the 98th Michigan PGA Professional Championship.
“I found it, it felt a little different, and then that was my swing thought all day,” the head golf professional at Prestwick Village Golf Club in Highland said after shooting a 7-under 65 to lead through the first round of the PGA Section championship at Flint Golf Club Monday.
“I just hit a lot of greens. Just missed one and made a lot of birdies.”
Goulding, 42, led by one shot over four-time champion Jeff Roth of Boyne Golf Academy, who shot 66, and was two up on the 67 by Kevin McKinley, the director of golf at Treetops Resort in Gaylord.
Three golfers, including eight-time champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, shot 68. The others were Kyle Martin of Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods, and Frank McAuliffe of Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville.
Five golfers check in at 69, including defending champion Lee Houtteman of Cedar, Jordan Young of Jordan Young Golf, Bob Ackerman of Bob Ackerman Golf Academy, Travis Dodson of Meadowbrook and Adam Schumacher of Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor.
The field of the state’s top PGA club and teaching professionals will play 18 holes Tuesday before a cut to the low 60 scorers and ties. The final round in the 54-hole $55,000 championship is Wednesday.
Goulding, a top section player in recent years, had the day’s best nine birdies in his round. The only blemish on his card was a double-bogey on the par 3 No. 13 hole where he missed the elevated and well-bunkered green wide right.
“I lost my focus there, but otherwise played really good,” he said.
He plans to continue with his one-shot-at-a-time approach.
“I don’t want to think about anything in the future,” he said. “Right now, I’m just happy I finally played OK.”
Roth, the 61-year-old Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member who last month won the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort, had eight birdies in his 66 with two bogeys on the par 3 8th and the par 3 13th.
The former Flint Golf Club head golf professional (1989-2000) said he is using his back-up putter for the first time in 11 years, and the ball is finding the hole.
“About three days after the (Tournament of Champions) I took it out and practiced with it just for fun,” he said. “I went through my protocols really fast, so I took it on the course and made a bunch of putts and then took in on the course again and made a bunch of putts. Today, I made a bunch of putts. It felt good out there.”
McKinley, 45, said he has been hitting the ball well, but not getting any putts to go in the hole.
“Today they went in the hole,” he said.
Hebert, 50 and another Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, lamented two bogeys in the middle of his round, but felt good about 68 for starters.
“I haven’t played any, so I’ll hit it better tomorrow,” he said. “If you would have told me 4-under at the start of the day. I would have taken it and not played.”
The championship is one of essentially two tournaments in one. The low nine golfers at the end of the tournament – along with Hebert, Roth and Ben Cook of Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland who are exempt from qualification by the PGA of America based on past performances – will earn spots in the 2020 PGA Professional National Championship, April 26-29 at Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas. The low 20 finishers from that national championship move on to play with the best players in the world at next year’s PGA Championship May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif.
Cook, who played in this year’s PGA, opened with a round of 70 Monday. Three former champions also shot 70, including 2017 champion John Seltzer of Seltzer Golf School in Grand Rapids, 2015 champion Dan Urban of Gull Lake Country Club and 2010 champion and Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson.
SCORING: A link for tournament scoring, tee times and more can be found on the front page at michiganpgagolf.com
SPONSORS: The Michigan PGA Professional Championship is presented by Cadillac, Club Car and OMEGA with supporting sponsors Titleist/Footjoy, TaylorMade, Nike, Golf Channel and the PGA Tour.