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Tyler Copp holds first-round Hall Financial Michigan Open lead at Oakland University – Macomb Daily

Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor holds a first-round lead in the Hall Financial Michigan Open at Oakland University Golf & Learning Center after shooting a 6-under 65 on the Katke-Cousins course Monday, June 10, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Golf Association of Michigan)

ROCHESTER – For the second consecutive year Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor forged a first-round lead in the Hall Financial Michigan Open at Oakland University Golf & Learning Center.

“Good start, but there’s a lot of golf to go,” said the 26-year-old who returns to the PGA Tour Americas next week. “I led last year, too, and ended up finishing fourth. Hopefully, I play better the rest of the way this year. I should. I’m a better player than I was a year ago.”

Copp shot a 6-under 65 on the Katke-Cousins course Monday, the same first-round score as last year, and did it in the morning wave when the golfers faced chilly temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.

Four golfers shot 67 in the warmer afternoon wave and were tied for second, led by 2019 Michigan Open champion Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, a PGA Tour Americas player.

The others were mini-tour player Patrick Sullivan of Grosse Pointe, the 2021 Michigan Amateur champion, mini-tour player Blaze Hogan of Big Rapids, and former pro and amateur Jerred Barley of Tipson, who recently won the Michigan Publinx Medal Play Championship.

Two-time former Michigan Open champion Jake Kneen of South Lyon (2018, 2022) and an assistant golf coach at Oakland University, shot 68, as did 2007 Michigan Open champion Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon and amateur Matt Zerbel of St. Joseph.

Copp, 26, a third-year professional and the 2020 Michigan Amateur winner, said it was cold and tough on the front nine.

“I felt early that it was going to be a kind of manage-it day,” he said. “I hit some good shots and I made some putts, two good ones for birdie early to get off to a fast start. I just tried to keep everything in front of me, especially with the greens running so fast, and just play smart golf. It wasn’t always pretty, but I did that.”

He said saving a par on the par-5 sixth hole helped keep his round together.

“It hit the cart path and went in the hazard and I ended up with a 10-footer downhill for par. And I made it. That was really big since that was my back nine (teed off on No. 10 to start).”

The field of 156 golfers will play another 18 holes on Tuesday before a 36-hole cut to the low 70 scorers and ties. The 72-hole championship with a $100,000 purse announced on Monday continues through Thursday.

Lilleboe, 36, made a closing birdie and felt good about his round.

“I hit it well on my front nine and felt like I was out of position some on my back nine, but missing in the right spots,” he said. “I got up and down a few times and putted well.”

Sullivan, 24, said he had one bad hole, a bogey on the par 5 16th, but otherwise played a solid round.

“I’ve learned this is not a driver course all the time,” he said. “I hit good shots, made some good putts. I feel good about it.”

Barley, 36, said he was playing great until he felt a twinge in his back late in his round.

“I stepped in a bunker and had to put my back brace on for the last two holes,” he said. “I managed to get two pars, but we will see how things feel tomorrow. I played well today, though. The game is in good shape.”

Hogan, 30, said he really worked on his short game coming into the tournament.

“I missed the cut last year and I hit the ball great, just couldn’t make anything, couldn’t score,” he said. “Today, the putter got hot. I left a few shots out there like you always do, but I’m playing well and looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

Anna Harden

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