Matthews, Roth, Jeppesen Tied At Top In Tournament of Champions

Tim Matthews cold-topped his opening tee shot and eased back to the field while Champions Tour golfer JR Roth and mini-tour player Martin Jeppesen warmed to the task in the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort Tuesday.

That set the trio up in a three-way tie at 6-under-par 138 for the lead starting Wednesday’s final round in the 54-hole, $55,000 Michigan PGA event that brings together professionals, amateurs, men, women, seniors and juniors in one competition from different tee positions.

“I topped it off the first tee, didn’t even get it past the ladies’ tee,” Matthews said and laughed after shooting a 2-over-par 74 to go with his first-round 64 from Monday. “And I still made four (par). It’s all about the angles. I was laying up to my right yardage.

“I was pretty unhappy about that at the time, but I didn’t give up, which is something I’ve been working on. When the frustration settles in, just battle through it and I did that. So, I’m happy with that, and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Jeppesen and Roth, meanwhile, each shot 4-under-par 68s to end up in the tie.

“I wanted to get around where he was yesterday, get around 8-under or 7 or so, and then see what he does,” said Jeppesen, a 24-year-old mini-tour player from Ypsilanti. “It’s tough out there, and if the wind picks up, who knows what will happen.”

Roth, 52, has won four Tournament of Champions titles (2008, 1999, 1996, and 1995) as part of 12 major titles in Michigan. The now New Mexico resident and long-time Flint and Detroit area pro was chasing not only Matthews in this tournament, but has his eyes on legend Al Watrous, who won a record 15 major Michigan titles.

“I like to have something to play for,” he said. “The money is great and everything, but I like to play for a little bit of history too.”

Matthews’ 74 not only helped Roth and Jeppesen, but Novi’s Wesley Gates and Warren’s David Nolan are just one shot back at 139. Gates, a Bowling Green State University golfer, shot 71, and Nolan, a teaching pro at Van Dyke Sports Center, shot 72.

Also in the mix for the title hunt is the group at 140. That group includes Willie Mack III of Flint, who shot 68, Randy Hutchison of Traverse City, who shot 71, Ian Ziska of Katke Golf Club at Ferris State University, who shot 71, and Boyne Golf Academy teacher Barry Redmond, who shot 72.

Defending champion Lee Houtteman (72) of Grand Traverse Resort, Kevin Muir (73) of The Wyndgate in Rochester and Brian Cairns (71) of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth made up the group at 142.

Matthews, who started the round three shots clear of the field, said he was out of sorts all day.

“It’s been a long time since I was in that position and I think I was thinking too much about it,” said the 52-year-old journeyman pro. “I made mistakes. I got out of synch and we struggled to keep it at 74. It’s OK. I’ve kind of gotten my feet wet again, you know being out in front, so tomorrow I think it could be a whole different story.”

Roth said he turned a first-day 66 into a 70, so he was happy to see some putts falling in the cup, including a 50-footer for birdie on No. 10, his first hole of the day.

“I hit it great tee-to-green yesterday and got nothing out of it. Today, better results,” he said. “I’m in it. I have no complaints.”

Jeppesen, planning a trip to PGA Tour Qualifying this winter, said he has been struggling on the E-Tour. He is hoping a good trip home to Michigan builds his confidence.

“It’s tough out there, but it seems like every time I come back home I do ok,” he said. “I love coming up to this tournament and I’ve played well both years I’ve come up here. To win a PGA event of your own state -- it always means something.”





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