Age Not a Factor At Boyne Tournament of Champions

BOYNE FALLS - The magic of Tom Watson has spread to the Boyne Tournament of Champions. Watsons heroic efforts over the weekend in the British Open inspired 61-year old Randy Erskine to shoot an effortless 7-under par 65 Monday. Erskine, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, is tied for the first round lead with aspiring PGA Tour player Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon.

"I have to admit I thought about Tom Watson," said Erskine, who made seven birdies on The Alpine at Boyne Mountain. "I have to think anybody a little older did. He (Watson) opened the door for a lot of folks and I putted just like him." 

Ruthkoski at 26 is 35 years younger than Erskine and had a much different kind of round. He toured the course with 6-birdies, an eagle and one-bogey.

"I've been upset with the way Ive been playing lately," said Ruthkoski. "I talked to my brother about it and we know my mistakes are simple and I can overcome them."

Ruthkoski won the 2007 Michigan Open after a successful career at Michigan State University. The Michigan State University alum has had a good July. He made the cut at the PGA Tour John Deere Classic and hopes to qualify for the Buick Open.

"It's nice to be up here (Boyne Mountain), everyone is friendly," he said. "Its like being on vacation while you are playing golf. Its fun to be out here."

Ruthkoski is volunteering his time to speak at a junior golf clinic tomorrow before starting his second round.

Another senior, 60-year-old Ron English of Charlotte is tied for third and was also inspired by Watsons play over the weekend.

"I just love this golf course," he said after shooting a 67. "I made seven 3s in the first ten holes and then fell off a little bit."

English's son Blake is also playing and shot 77.

Two other players are tied for third. Forty-two-year-old Suzy Green of Franklin shot a 67 (six shots better than her father Pete Green). The mother of three children (ages 5,3 and 2) hasn't been able to play or practice much lately.

"I think I can remain patient and I think I can hang with these guys," said Green, a former LPGA Tour player.

Green has hung with them before playing in the final group one year and finishing in the top five. She is tied with Gary Smithson of Grand Rapids. Smithson, 41, said this is the best he has hit the ball since college.

There are 113 players in the three-day, 54-hole tournament. The field is made up of men, women, boys and girls who have won major Michigan championships. They play from three different tees based on age and gender categories, and 35 players shot par or better including defending champion Jeff Roth of Flushing. The field will be cut down to the top 70 and ties. There is a $55,000 purse. 


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