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Brother of Wings’ Copp leads Michigan Open; Melendez tied for first at Plum Hollow

For the second consecutive year, Ann Arbor’s Tyler Copp, the younger brother of Detroit Red Wings forward Andrew Copp, took a first-round lead at the Michigan Open on Monday at Oakland University Golf & Learning Center in Rochester.

“Good start, but there’s a lot of golf to go,” said the 26-year-old Copp, 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 U., shot 68, as did 2007 Michigan Open champion Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon and amateur Matt Zerbel of St. Joseph.

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 continues through Thursday.

Melendez tied for first at Michigan Women’s Amateur

A trio of golfers, Ashleigh Duflo of Ada and the University of Findlay (Ohio), Mia Melendez, a junior at Ann Arbor Greenhills High School, and Lauren Davis, a senior at Coopersville High School, shared the lead through the first round of stroke play on Monday in the 108th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship at Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield.

The three golfers each shot a 3-over 73, just ahead of a trio at 74 and seven golfers at 75.

Elise Fennell of Caledonia, who is headed to Illinois State University in the fall, Amaya Melendez, Mia’s older sister, and Bridget Boczar, the 2023 GAM Women’s Champion who plays at Oakland University, made up the group at 74.

Katie Chipman of Grand Rapids, the defending champion and an assistant coach at Grand Valley State University, and Olivia Hemmila of Troy and Oakland University, the runner-up last year, led the seven golfers who shot 75.

Others shooting 5-over included Elayna Bowser, the 2019 Women’s Amateur champion and recent GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, Megha Vallabhaneni of Northville and Western Michigan University, Kamryn Shannon of Jackson and Ferris State University, 2022 GAM Women’s Champion Sophie Stevens of Highland and the University of Florida, and 2022 GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Chelsea Collura of Wyandotte.

Another 18 holes of stroke play follows on Tuesday to determine the 32-golfer match play bracket. The round of 32 is Wednesday, the round of 16 and quarterfinals Thursday and the semifinals and finals are on Friday.

Melendez, a GAM 15-and-under Girls’ Player of the Year in 2022, made birdie on the par 4 seventh hole and then eagled the par 5 eighth hole with a 25-yard downhill chip-in to highlight her round.

“My round was pretty steady and I would say the best part of my game was my putting,” she said. “I was fortunate to make a lot of long putts that I needed to save par and keep my score as low as possible. I’ve been playing decently well, and I’ve been focusing on my putting because I was aware this was going to be a challenging course and it was going to test my short game.”

Anna Harden

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