TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: Barrett Kelpin’s Final Birdie Wins Playoff With Otto Black
BOYNE FALLS – Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo made the final birdie in a battle of birdies with a putt inside three feet on the second playoff hole to fend off Otto Black of Brighton and win the 31st Tournament of Champions Wednesday at Boyne Mountain Resort.
It was the second Tournament of Champions title for Kelpin, a 34-year-old mini-tour golfer who had a five-shot lead to start the final round, but had to hold off Black, cart partner for the day, friend and even former mini-tour roommate, who charged relentlessly with an 8-under 64 on the Alpine course to force the sudden-death playoff at 16-under 200, seven shots clear of the field.
Kelpin, who shot 69 with key birdies on two of the last three holes of regulation while Black was making three consecutive birdies to close his regulation round, matched birdies with Black on the first playoff hole (par 5 No. 18), and then made the winning birdie on No. 16, which he had birdied just minutes before in regulation, too.
Both players hit drives down the middle on the second playoff hole (par 4 No. 16), but Black’s rolled up against the edge of the rough around the pond that fronts the green on the hole. Kelpin hit first from the fairway to three feet and then Black hit his wedge to about 12 feet. Black missed his birdie putt, and then Kelpin rolled his short putt in for the win.
“Otto got kind of a tough break there on the last hole with his ball going right up against the edge where the fairway meets the rough,” Kelpin said. “So I was fortunate I was in the fairway and I could hit it in there tight and make a three and get out of the playoff.”
Black, the 2021 Tournament of Champions winner, said he did all he could do to have a chance to win.
“I had a great round and gave myself the best opportunity and lost to a friend, so I can’t feel bad about that,” he said. “My ball was against the collar of the rough there on 16 in the playoff. I still got it out of there and on the green and had a putt at it. Barrett just hit a great shot in there and made birdie. He did what he had to do and beat me there at the end.”
Kelpin, who had not won since a G-Pro Tournament last fall, said it felt great to be the Tournament of Champions winner again.
“I love this golf tournament and look forward to it every year,” he said. “I got to have some family here with me this week and I don’t get to play in front of my family very much anymore. So to have them along and win the tournament was really special.”
Three golfers tied for third at 9-under 207 including defending champion Brett White, who shot a closing 70. Also at 207 were John Seltzer of Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, who shot a third consecutive 69, and senior pro Jay Jurecic of Crystal Falls, who shot a final 68.
Jurecic was the low senior in the unique tournament that brings together professionals, amateurs, men, women, senior and junior players competing for the Walter Burkemo Trophy. Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids, a Michigan State University golfer who shot 71 for 212, was the low amateur, Shannon Kennedy of Beverly Hills, a Michigan State University golfer who shot 74 for 219, was the low woman in the tournament.
Kelpin, whose first Tournament of Champions win was in 2015, was awarded the traditional green dinner jacket for the second time and will have his name inscribed on the Burkemo Trophy again. He also took home the $9,000 check from a total purse of $66,500.
PGA Qualifying is next for both Kelpin and Black who each said that riding together in the same cart for the final round was enjoyable.
“It was quiet for some stretches early on, but we chatted a little bit all day,” Kelpin said. “We’ve played so much golf together, we’ve lived together for stretches in Florida for a few months at a time to get warm weather and practice time. He’s a good friend of mine and I knew playing with Otto and Brett (White) that somebody was going to have a hot day. They are both such good players. I’m just glad I hung in there and was able to make some birdies down the stretch. It feels good to persevere.”
ABOUT BOYNE MOUNTAIN RESORT: Boyne Mountain has been a favorite Midwest destination since 1948. The family-owned, four-season resort has earned Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor, and has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler readers as being among the top 50 Best Places to Ski and Stay in North America. The waterpark is listed among Budget Travel’s Top 10 Indoor facilities and the resort is a readers’ choice favorite of Spa Magazine. Boyne Mountain recently added Skybridge Michigan to their list of attractions, the world’s longest timber suspension bridge spanning over 1100 feet sitting 120 feet over the valley floor. Boyne Mountain is home to The Alpine and The Monument golf courses, as well as 60 runs on 415 skiable acres. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, Solace Spa, Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark, Zipline Adventures, disc golf facilities, lift-serviced mountain biking, beach activities, kids programs, lodging, meeting, and wedding facilities as well as real-estate are offered at the resort.
BOYNE Golf is a collection of ten courses at three resorts The Highlands, Boyne Mountain Resort and the Inn at Bay Harbor located within 15 miles of Petoskey, MI. Beyond the world-class golf, Boyne Golf is centered amid one of America’s most beautiful vacation spots. The scenic Lake Michigan beach towns of Charlevoix, Harbor Springs and Petoskey are minutes away, and a side trip to Mackinac Island is easily managed. Guests can enjoy award-winning spas, waterfront dining, sandy beaches, watersports, gaming, microbreweries, wineries, hiking, biking, tennis, zip-lining, shopping and more capped by the spectacular northern Michigan sunsets. For more information on BOYNE Golf, visit www.BOYNEgolf.com.
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