BATH – Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids joked that he should get super sick before all of his tournaments.
Coming off the couch Monday after a bout with food poisoning the Michigan State University golfer fired a 6-under 65 to set the pace through the first round of stroke play in the 111th Michigan Amateur Championship being presented by Carl’s Golfland at Hawk Hollow Golf Club.
“Yesterday was my first time out of the house so my expectation was just to shoot something around par and make match play, and then kind of see where it goes from there,” said Smithson, who last summer was just the seventh amateur to win the Michigan Open Championship.
Smithson will go for medalist honors in stroke play Tuesday. The low 64 scorers after 36-holes of stroke play advance to match play. Six rounds of match play Wednesday through Friday will determine a champion.
Charles DeLong of DeWitt, a Grand Valley State University golfer, shot 67 to stand second through the first round, and Max Rispler of Ada, a 26-year-old insurance broker, shot 68.
Seven golfers were next at 70 including 2006 champion Greg Davies of West Bloomfield and Michael Coriasso of White Lake, the 2019 GAM Mid-Amateur champion. Just 10 golfers in the starting field of 156 shot under par as the wind picked up through the day.
Smithson made seven birdies, including five on the back nine before closing his round with a bogey on No. 18.
“I didn’t really hit it great on the front nine, but managed it pretty well,” Smithson said. “I birdied 10 and 11 and then just kind of started to hit it better. I definitely had some trouble on the back side figuring out where the wind was, but the birdies happened because I kept on making putts.”
Smithson is one of four current Spartans in the field, and there were six just a few days ago. Tommy Sullivan of Grosse Pointe withdrew with an eye injury and Satchel Pierce of Union withdrew with a back injury.
DeLong, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year and an NCAA Division II Regional Champion, said he feels very comfortable at Hawk Hollow, which was his DeWitt High’s home course.
“I got a couple of good breaks when I didn’t hit the best shot,” he said, “and I had the putter rolling well all day so I was able to save myself when I got in trouble. I got off the tee well, too. When you have a good driver and a good putter, good rounds are not too far away.”
DeLong said his college season raised his confidence level, and he’s looking forward to match play.
“I know I can beat anyone on any given day so I’m just going to try to play as well as I can every round,” he said.