BOYNE FALLS - Finishing 10 shots behind the winner of the recent Waterloo Open in Iowa gave Drew Preston renewed focus for his return to Michigan and the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort.
The result: The 22-year-old mini-tour professional from Grand Rapids fired a career-best 8-under-par 64 on The Alpine course Monday.
His round, which included six birdies and an eagle, set a torrid pace through the first round of the 22nd version of the tournament that brings together Michigan championship pedigree professionals, amateurs, seniors, juniors, men and women playing for the same title from different tees.
"I rolled in some birdie putts of 20-feet plus on the front nine and that got me going," he said. "I wasn't trying to be too aggressive or do anything crazy, but putts started falling and I just stayed patient and let it happen."
Preston, 22 and last year's Michigan Amateur Champion after finishing up his career at Bowling Green State University, had a two-shot lead on last year's Michigan Open champion, Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, who turned pro last year after finishing his college golf at the University of Iowa.
Defending champion JR Roth of New Mexico, recent Michigan Senior Open champion Ron Beurmann from the Country Club of Jackson, Muskegon touring pro Andrew Ruthkoski and 72-year-old Larry Clark of Traverse City made up the group at 4-under-par 68.
Rochester Hills' Jeff Champine shot 70 to check in as the low amateur. Also at 70 were 2011 champion Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage Golf Club, Kyle Roman of Hidden River Golf & Country Club and Charles Pasco of Metamora Golf & Country Club. Suzanne Green-Roebuck shot 72 for the low score among the women.
The field in the 54-hole $55,000 event will be cut to the low 50 scorers and ties following Tuesday's second round. The final round is Wednesday, and all rounds are being played on the Alpine course. Gallery is welcome, and live scoring is available at michiganpgagolf.com.
Kelpin, who had seven birdies against one bogey in his round, said his 66 came in part because he fed off the success of Preston.
"You can't lose the tournament the first day, but you don't want to get lapped either," he said. "He played well and I realized I had to make some birdies. I think we fed off each other a little bit. I've known Drew for a long time. He's from Grand Rapids and I'm from Kalamazoo so we have been trying to beat each other for several years."
Preston had three consecutive birdies on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 with birdie putts of 20-feet or more on each hole. He also made an eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 12 hole with a 40-foot putt.
"It was going my way all day today, but I did make it easy on myself by not missing too many fairways or greens," he said. "I had a reality check last week (in Waterloo). I didn't want to think people were that much better than me, so I worked on a couple of things and told myself you just have to trust it. That worked well for me today."
ROUND 1 RESULTS