ACME — Patrick Wilkes-Krier garnered one of the rarest of golf feats – the albatross or double-eagle 2 on a par 5 – and dramatically grabbed the first-round lead of the Hall Financial Michigan Open Championship presented by Turtle Creek Casino and Caesars Sportsbook on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
Last year’s runner-up in a playoff, Wilkes-Krier shot 8-under 64 Monday with the double-eagle on the par 5 No. 10 hole. He hit a 3-wood off the tee, and then a 4-iron 227 yards that caught the green and trickled into the hole.
“I didn’t see it, but everyone up there was clapping when the ball hit the green and then it was pretty obvious what happened from the second reaction,” said the Ann Arbor resident and teaching professional at Kendall Academy.
His 64 was three shots clear of the field of 156 golfers, and the double-eagle may be the first ever in the Michigan Open. Archived records are unclear or missing.
Kyle Dobbs, a teaching professional at Oak Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, and Donnie Trosper, a mini-tour professional from Westland, each shot 67 to stand second.
Jake Kneen, a mini-tour player and the champion in 2018, shot 68, as did six-time champion Scott Hebert, the head professional at nearby Traverse City Golf & Country Club.
Two other former champions, 2011 winner Randy Hutchison of Traverse City, and 2017 winner Matt Thompson of Hillsdale, checked in with 69s.
Defending champion Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids, another MSU golfer, was in a group at 70.
A cut to the low 70 scores and ties will be made after Tuesday’s second round.
Wilkes-Krier, who has never had a hole-in-one, said it was his second double-eagle, but first in tournament play.
“Three-under on one hole will get you going no matter what and I was feeling good after that,” he said.
He was 9-under for the round after birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 and appeared to be making a bid for the course record of 10-under 62 set in the Michigan Open in 1993 by the late Brent Veenstra, but a bogey on the par 5 No. 15 hole derailed that.
“I just made a bad decision off the tee there and hit it in the hazard,” he said. “Then I kind of worked my way up the rough the rest of the way.”
He said he hit good iron shots early in the round and after finishing second a year ago is back with a purpose.
“Well, I want to win, so I think starting out this way is good, right?,” he said. “I show up to this event and I see all these good golfers, so I know it’s going to take a lot of good golf for another three rounds.”
Dobbs, 47, underwent hernia surgery in March and just recently started playing again. He said he had zero expectations.
“I’ve been taking it easy and I was kind of taking it easy today because I still don’t know what to expect, but I guess it’s true, beware of the injured golfer,” he said and laughed. “Coming to the Bear, I mean you can play some great golf and walk away with a frown on your face. Today, I was lucky and I would much rather be lucky than good any day. I didn’t have any fives on the card today. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.”
Trosper, 25, has finished third twice in the Open in recent years. He said he was grinding all day in his 67.
“I haven’t put four rounds together before up here, so if I can do that this week I like my chances,” he said. “I’m just going to keep grinding. That’s the kind of course this is. It makes you do that, at least it makes me do that.”
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This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Dramatic shot powers Wilkes-Krier in opening round of Michigan Open