Jerry Kelly talks about his 7-under 65 that put him on top of the leader board after the second round of the Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills The Detroit News


Grand Blanc — Round 2 on Saturday saw a new leader emerge at the Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.

Jerry Kelly, currently second on the money list for the of the 50-and-older PGA Tour Champions, made a big move by shooting a 7-under 65, tied for the day's best round and knocking Lake Orion native Tom Gillis back to a tie for fourth. 

Gillis shot a 3-under 69 after starting the day in a tie for first and sits three shots back of Kelly headed into Sunday's third and final round.

"I tried to tell myself on that par-5, 'You need to keep going and get as many as you possibly can because someone's going to go low tomorrow,'" Kelly said That's the mentality that we have every week, and it's kind of fun."

Gillis is the only player from Michigan in the field and is seeking his first PGA Champions Tour victory.

"It wasn't too bad, but I didn't make as many putts as I did yesterday," Gillis said. "You never like to give up the lead, but I'm still in striking distance."

The plan for Gillis won't change on Sunday. 

"I'm not going to do a whole lot different," Gillis said. "Try to get as many chances as I can and hopefully that putter warms up."

Woody Austin was another big mover on Saturday. After a bogey on the par-5 first hole, Austin closed with a back-nine 30 and shot a 7-under 65. Austin is one of nine Buick Open champions in the field this weekend, the PGA Tour event Warwick hosted for nearly 50 years.

"There are a lot of trees, so you've got to drive it straight, and that's always been a strength of mine," Austin said. "I've always been a good ball-striker, then the ball started falling in from everywhere, but it's hard to follow really low rounds with really low rounds." 

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David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, finished the day tied for seventh, four shots back of Kelly and in seventh place on the Champions money list. He carded a 6-under 66 on Saturday, notching four birdies in the final five holes, including a chip-in from the fringe on 18.

“Most of the day, I just had to stay patient. The last half of the back-nine I made a couple of nice shots, hit a nice putt and before you knew it I had a great round of golf,” Toms said.

Celebrity Shootout

Jack Nicklaus played at Warwick Hills a total of four times during the course’s long stretch as host of the Buick Open, finishing fourth in 1965. On Saturday, 54 years later, Nicklaus teamed with Kid Rock to take on Henrik Zetterberg and country music singer Dierks Bentley in a nine-hole celebrity scramble benefiting charity.

Before the round, Nicklaus shared his memories of the Buick Open.


Jack Nicklaus talks about the Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc before participating in a two-man team celebrity scramble The Detroit News

“The one memory I have is that I hit it out of bounds at 18,” Nicklaus said. “I finished fourth, but if I didn’t hit it out of bounds I probably would have won the tournament. The golf course was fairly simple in those days. It was basically narrow in front of the green, two bunkers and then wide out the back. The bunker has some personality now. Those trees that were about an inch in diameter are now 18 inches in diameter, so it’s changed a little bit.”

Once, when in Michigan during the Buick Open, Nicklaus made his way to a Buick dealership and got the full Motor City experience.

“I got my first car here. I came up and played in the tournament, and it wasn’t a prize — I bought it. It was a white, ’57 Buick convertible, a Buick Special I think it was. That’s the first car that Barbara (Nicklaus’s wife) ever saw me have.”

Nicklaus elicited the biggest roar from the crowd on Saturday. The teams tied on the 18th, triggering a "chip-off." Zetterberg rolled his chip to within 18 inches, but Nicklaus won the hole for his team by draining the 55-foot chip.

The Nicklaus/Rock team won the two-man scramble skins game, earning $18,000 for United Way of Genesee while the Dierks/Zetterberg team netted $7,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

"Kid Rock played well. He hit a lot of great shots," Nicklaus said. "It was a lot more competitive than I expected it to be. They're all nice guys, and it was great to be back in the state up north (Nicklaus is from Columbus, Ohio). I got lucky on that last chip."

One year to the day after announcing his retirement from hockey, Nicklaus’s competition in the scramble, Zetterberg, shared his thoughts on the Red Wings’ recent decision to go with four alternate captains despite speculation that Dylan Larkin is the heir apparent. 

“I think we all know who’s going to be the captain when they announce it, when they move the 'C' to the next guy,” Zetterberg said. “In the same way, it’s not a bad thing to wait a little bit. He’s going to be the captain for a long time. Obviously, it’s ownership’s and Steve Yzerman’s decision and we all go with it.”

With a massive crowd gathered around the 18th, Zetterberg admitted that even after a 16-season NHL career, nerves came into play.

"You can't really compare them, but you're out of your element (playing golf). I played in front of thousands of people for many years, but this was different," Zetterberg said.

Bentley, who played a concert at Warwick Hills on Saturday evening, was in awe at getting to play with golf's greatest ever.

"This is the only time I've played golf this year, and I think that's going to be it. You can't top this," Bentley said. "Golf, to me, is about spending time with people. Getting a chance to play golf with Jack Nicklaus is unbelievable. He's a funny guy, just who you hoped he would be. I'm a big fan of his as a golfer and a man, his dedication to his family. It's a lot of fun to be around him, an all-time greatest memory."

Ally Challenge Third Round

When: Sunday, 7:40 a.m. start (estimated)

Where: Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, Grand Blanc (7,127 yards, par 72)

Purse: $2 million (winner: $300,000)

TV: 6-8 p.m., Golf Channel

Defending champion: Paul Broadhurst