Grand Rapids native, MSU golfer Brad Smithson rallies to win 2021 Michigan Open in playoff

Brad Smithson stared at a two-stroke deficit en route to the 18th hole and had his job for him in the late stages of the 2021 Michigan Open at The Bear Golf Course at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme.

After Smithson took the lead at the end of the first three rounds, Smithson’s later breakdown on Round 4, in which he logged two bogeys and one double bogey between holes 13 and 17, left Smithson’s runner-up for the 2019 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern grad and current inevitably appear golfers in the state of Michigan.

But the former high school state champ moved on from late fighting to make a birdie on the 18th par four hole, and when leader Patrick Wilkes-Krier missed his par putt, a playoff resurrected Smithson.

The budding MSU junior took full advantage, defeating Wilkes-Krier with birdies on each of the two playoff holes, becoming the ninth amateur to win the Michigan Open in its 104-year history.

The playoffs began with a tie between the two competitors, 13 under par and the replay of No. 18, and it seemed that Wilkes-Krier, a native of Ann Arbor and former University of Michigan assistant men’s golf coach, was quick to complete the win would as he hit his approach within 4 feet and Smithson missed the green.

But he advocated birdie and sent the duo to par-4 of 16, where Wilkes-Krier drove into a fairway bunker while Smithson went up and down with his sand wedge and putter to sink his sixth birdie day.

As an amateur, Smithson can’t take first place, but the strong four rounds and the birdie-birdie playoff finish should give him some confidence for his junior season at MSU, where he finished second on the team on average 73.4) as a newcomer and fourth as a second grader (74.9) last spring.

Smithson opened the tournament with a brilliant 6-under-plar 66, then shot a 67 in Round 2 to build a five-shot lead at halftime. Round 3 wasn’t that friendly, especially on the second nine where Smithson made four bogeys to finish at 71 and he passed the two Eagles and one double bogey on the first nine and another double on the final round. Bogey included, to this result at No. 16, which enabled Wilkes-Krier to climb within striking distance.

As a professional golfer, Wilkes-Krier took first place for $ 12,000, with Donnie Trosper from the canton and former MSU golfer taking third place with 9 under par.

Traverse City and former Hope College golfer Winton Munch and Ann Arbor by birth and Tyler Copp, a senior at Mercer University, tied fourth at 6-under.

Last year’s champion, Brett White from Caledonia, finished sixth out of 4 under, along with Alex Scott from Traverse City, the 2020 runner-up.

Click here for the full rankings for the 2021 Michigan Open.


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