HIGHLAND – Randy Hutchison of Traverse City could use a one-year lease on a 2015 Cadillac SRX as he travels around the country playing golf.
The traveling mini-pro who has worn out a few automobiles in recent years fired a 6-under 66 and leads four golfers by one shot through the first round of the 98th Michigan Open Championship presented by LaFontaine Cadillac at Prestwick Village.
Hutchison, 28 and the 2011 Michigan Open winner, has been home from the SwingThought.com Tour for a few weeks and said he was relaxed and ready to go Monday. His eyes are on the trophy for a second time, but also the SRX lease that LaFontaine Cadillac will present to the champion.
“I had a tough year last year with conditional status on the Web.com Tour, but this year has started better and I feel good,” he said. “I hit it close a few times and I made a few long ones for birdie coming in. Good start and a long way to go.”
The foursome at 67 chasing him included club-fitter Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile and Brent Goik, a recreation manager in Bay City, University of Michigan golfer Reed Hrynewich of Muskegon and 19-year-old Hillsdale College golfer Joe Torres of Almont, who made a hole-in-one on the third hole to power the low competitive round of his young golf career.
Greg Davies of West Bloomfield, the standout amateur fresh off being inducted in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Sunday, was the only golfer at 68, while 10 golfers checked in at 69 including 2007 champion Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon, former 16-year tour pro turned real-estate man Doug LaBelle of Mount Pleasant and PGA Tour Canada player Drew Preston of Ada, who took the red-eye flight from Vancouver, Canada, Sunday night in order to play in the state championship.
The field of 156 plays 18 more holes Tuesday before a cut the low 70 scorers and ties. The 72-hole championship continues through Thursday. LaFontaine Cadillac will present the winner with the one year lease on a 2015 Cadillac SRX in a final championship ceremony at the tournament’s conclusion.
Hutchison powered his round with a strong back nine with birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 12, and then birdied No. 16 with a 25-foot putt and No. 18 with a 20-footer.
“I probably rolled in a couple you are not supposed to make, but I let a few holes get away, too,” he said. “I’m just down here hoping good things happen, and they did today.”
Hrynewich just finished his sophomore year at Michigan where he was named Most Improved Golfer. He said he has been working with teacher Charley Vandenberg in Grand Rapids the last few weeks and his swing was dialed in.
“I didn’t putt that great and still shot 67,” he said. “I hit it pretty close. I’m really concentrating on each shot. I can’t control what anybody else is doing so I’m going to stick to that and not worry about where I stand in the tournament.”
Torres, 19, set a goal to finish in the top 20 for the tournament, and offered a jolt of extra excitement toward that goal early in the first round. His ace at No. 3 was with a 7-iron shot of 180 yards that he at first thought he mishit.
“I sort of chunked it I thought, but it bounced and disappeared,” he said. “It was cool because it was my first (hole-in-one), too.”
Scores as well as live scoring during the rounds can be found at www.michiganpgagolf.com. The public is welcome at no charge at the tournament.