State golf: Last year's runner-up rides double eagle to 4-stroke lead at Michigan Open

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Last year, Patrick Wilkes-Krier got the paycheck.

This year, he wants the trophy.

Wilkes-Krier, of Ann Arbor, shot a 3-under 69 on Tuesday to extend his lead to four shots in the Michigan Open — a day after he fired a 64 that included the rarest of feats, a double eagle.

Patrick Wilkes-Krier has the lead at the halfway point of the Michigan Open.

Wilkes-Krier finished runner-up in last year's Michigan Open, falling in a playoff to Michigan State's Bradley Smithson. Because Smithson was an amateur, Wilkes-Krier took home the $12,000 first-place paycheck.

"There is a lot of golf to go, and players going well under par out there, but I feel like my game is there," said Wilkes-Krier, a teaching pro at Kendall Academy. "Sometimes just focusing on one thing, one small change can kind of take your mind off any of the negative stuff that you might be thinking about or be worried about.

"I think that was the difference today."

Wilkes-Krier was at 11 under halfway through the state's most competitive championship, four strokes better than Dearborn Heights' Joe Juszczyk, a mini-tour pro, and Kalamazoo's Colin Sikkenga, a golfer at Oakland University, on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme.

Both Juszczyk and Sikkenga shot 9-under 63 Tuesday, a shot off the course record.

Grosse Pointe Farms' Coalter Smith, who plays at Wisconsin, was another shot back after a 65.

Three players were at 6 under, including White Lake's Jake Kneen (Oakland), Westland's Donnie Trosper (Michigan State) and Ypsilanti's Zach Sudinsky (Eastern Michigan). They are all professionals now.

Traverse City's Scott Hebert, a six-time champion, was at 2 under, tied for 13th.

Smithson, still an amateur, was at even par, tied for 19th.

Grosse Pointe's Patrick Sullivan, the former Michigan golfer who recently turned pro instead of defending his Michigan Amateur championship later this month, was at 1 over, tied for 24th. Sullivan's younger brother, Tommy, who plays at Michigan State, was another shot back at 2 over, tied for 29th.

The field was cut to low 70s and ties, with the third round Wednesday and final round Thursday.

They are playing for a purse of $85,000, though Wilkes-Krier has his sights set on much more than that. The shot of his lifetime Monday put him in good position to do just that. In the first round at the par-5 10th hole, Wilkes-Krier hit 3 wood off the tee, then 4 iron from 227 yards into the cup for the rare albatross. It was actually his second double eagle — first in competition — and he's never had a hole-in-one.

The double eagle was believed to be the first in Michigan Open history, which dates back 105 years.

“Three-under on one hole will get you going no matter what and I was feeling good after that,” he said.

Women's Amateur

East Lansing's Caroline Ellis, an assistant coach at Michigan State, will be the top seed in match play at the 106th Michigan Women's Amateur, at even par through two rounds at Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester.

Jessica Krattiger, an Ohio State alum who, like Ellis, was a pro and is now a reinstated amateur, will be the No. 2 seed after finishing stroke play at 4 over.

Match play will feature 32 golfers, and continue through Friday.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984