Top 10: Hutchison, Houtteman, Hebert savor a ‘great year’ on the links

By MIKE ECKERT

ACME — Once again, Traverse City was well represented in the golfing world in 2012.

The biggest splash came from former TC Central golfer Randy Hutchison, who capped his year by qualifying for the Web.com Tour at the PGA Tour’s Q-school earlier this month.

His 73rd-place finish at the six-round tournament gives him exemption for the Web.com Tour’s first eight events. If he makes the cut once, he gets a full-time card for the rest of 2013.

That wasn’t the only highlight for Hutchison in 2012.

In October, the former MSU standout led wire-to-wire to win a NGA Tour Bridgsetone Winter Series event in Florida.

And, he got some redemption on the PGA Tour.

After playing in the 2009 Buick Open and missing the cut, Hutchison had a better showing in his second attempt. He won the qualifier for the John Deere Classic in July, made the cut and finished with a 68-68-71-69.

“This was probably my best year as a professional golfer,” Hutchison said. “I met all of my goals that I set at the beginning of the season. I’m thankful I was healthy enough and everything fell my way to achieve them.”

It was also a good year for Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

Lee Houtteman, a pro at GT Resort, kicked things off by playing in the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor over Memorial Weekend. It was the first time Houtteman had played in a major tournament, and he was one of only two Michigan golfers in the field.

Then in September, Houtteman won the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship, which was his second “Michigan Major” victory.

Houtteman beat Ann Arbor’s Tim Katanski 3-and-1 for the title. In the round of 16, he also beat Scott Hebert, the head pro at GT Resort & Spa.

Hebert picked up a win in August by taking the Michigan PGA Professional Championship. It was his sixth win at the event over the last seven years.

And, GT Resort & Spa picked up a victory.

The Bear was selected as the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association’s Golf Course of the Year.

“It was a great year,” Hebert said. “The Bear was named Course of the Year. That was the culmination. It was a good year business-wise, it was great weather-wise and the courses were fantastic.”

Traverse City native gets 2013 golf tour spot

BY JAMES COOK

jcook@record-eagle.com

LA QUINTA, Calif. — Traverse City native Randall Hutchison stormed back with a vengeance to finish PGA Tour Q-school in a high enough place to earn a spot on the Web.com Tour next year.

After opening rounds of 73 and 74, Hutchison reeled off 68, 70, 69 and 68 to finish at 422 for the grueling six-round tournament. That placed him 73rd.

The top 25 finishers in Q-school earn their PGA Tour cards, while the next 50 land in the Web.com Tour (formerly Nationwide).

“After I got done, I was refreshing my phone quite a bit to see what position I was in,” Hutchison said. “I knew it was going to be close, and it turned out in my favor, so I was really happy about that.”

Hutchison earns an exemption for the tour’s first eight stops. If he makes the cut in one of those eight, he’s guaranteed a spot on the tour for the rest of the season.

“Chances are in my corner of doing that,” Hutchison said.

Until the Web.com season starts, he’ll continue to play some events on the Hooters Tour’s Winter Series.

“I’ll go down there and stay sharp when I can and hopefully I’m ready when February comes around and head down to South America for the first few events on the Web.com Tour,” Hutchison said.

The top 25 Web.com money leaders at the end of the 2013 season earn their PGA Tour card. Another 25 can earn their card depending on money earned in the tour’s four “Final” events.

While being in this situation didn’t look that good after the first two Q-school rounds, Hutchison never gave up.

“The first two rounds, I didn’t play bad,” Hutchison said. “I just didn’t get anything out of my rounds and made some mental mistakes here and there. I told myself after those first two rounds that I wasn’t out of it. … I still had some bad swings here or there, but overall it didn’t cost me a lot. I met my goal and coming out here and gaining status on a tour that was bigger than the one I was on last year. All in all, it was a very successful week. I’m looking forward to what next year has to offer for me.”

Randall Hutchison wins at Metro West

http://www.ngatour.com/fpss/slideshows/myslideshow/images/115_randall_hutchison_bws_win_1.jpg

 

Orlando, Fla.– October 25, 2012 – A week after finishing T7 in the First Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School at Grasslands Golf & Country Club, Randall Hutchison carried the momentum into the opening event of the NGA TOUR Bridgestone Winter Series and earned his third BWS victory on Thursday.

Hutchison, a former Michigan State standout from Traverse City, Mich., opened the event with a tournament-low 64, led wire-to-wire and bested Jesse Smith, Riley Wheeldon and Ryan Brehm by two shots.

“Playing the way I did last week in First Stage definitely helped me out this week,” said Hutchison, who earned $8,945 for the victory at Metro West. “Anytime you play well in an event like Q-School, it builds your confidence.”

The former Spartan, who started the day with a two-stroke lead, shot an even-par 36 on the front and watched his lead grow to three shots after second-place Brehm, who is also a Michigan State alumnus and Hutchison’s roommate during the BWS, carded a 1-over 37 on the outward nine.

“It was big not to make any mistakes on the front side,” said Hutchison. “I had my birdie opportunities, but I just missed them. I hit most of the fairways, attacked pins when I had the chance and played safe when I needed to.”

Hutchison picked up his lone birdie of the day on No. 12 and looked to be on cruise control until he carded a double bogey on the par-3 15th hole. Despite the misstep, Hutchison recorded pars on the final three holes en route to victory. Hutchison finished with rounds of 64-69-73 for a 10-under 206 total.

“I didn’t get nervous after making the double bogey,” said Hutchison. “I just made one bad swing at the most inopportune time. I felt comfortable all day. Playing with [Brehm] was relaxing and there wasn’t any tension in the final group. All in all, it was a pretty good day.”

After the opening 37, Brehm of East Lansing, Mich., fell further from contention with a double bogey on No. 11, but back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 helped him to finish in a tie for second with Smith and Wheeldon at 8-under par. Brehm carded a 1-over 73 in the final round, while Smith (Barrington, N.H.) and Wheeldon (Comox, Canada) posted rounds of 65 and 68, respectively, on Thursday.

German Allen John matched Hutchison’s low round of the tournament with a final-round 64 to move into a tie with Cory Stelick (Groton, N.Y.) at 7-under par. Stelick shot a 3-under 69 in the final round.

Mathieu Gingras(69) and Evan Harmeling (71) finished the Metro West event tied for seventh at 6-under par, while Chris Ross (69) came home ninth at 5-under par.

Miami native James Vargas (72) and Missouri golfer Scott Langley (74) finished the event tied for 10th at 4-under par.

For full-field scores, click here.

Hutchison finishes tied for 46th in the John Deere Classic

Hutchison finishes 8-under

TC Central grad shoots 68-68-72-69 in John Deere Classic

BY DENNIS CHASE dchase@record-eagle.com

TRAVERSE CITY — Randy Hutchison finished what he started.

The former Traverse City Central standout shot a 2-under 69 Sunday in the final round of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

Hutchison, who won a qualifier to gain entry, shot rounds of 68, 68, 71 and 69 for an 8-under 276. That was 12 shots behind Zach Johnson and Troy Matteson. Johnson won the tournament on the second playoff hole.

As for Hutchison, he closed with a bogey-free round to earn a check for $12,461.

“Anytime you can go out on a Sunday and not make a bogey is always a good thing,” he said. “I only made a couple birdies, but overall it was a pretty good day.”

Hutchison’s two birdies came on the 8th and 10th holes.

It was Hutchison’s second PGA Tour event. The other was the 2009 Buick Open. Hutchison said what he learned from that experience helped over the weekend. The key, he said, was to stay relaxed.

“The Buick Open was only my second tournament as a professional, so I was out of my element for a little while,” he said. “I took that experience and carried it into this week. I tried to slow myself down. I was anxious for awhile, but I know if I’m playing well I can come out and compete with these guys day in and day out. The next step is to get to that level (of consistency).”

His most anxious moment was on the first day.

“I was pretty relaxed most of the week except for the first tee box Thursday,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of nervousness. I was just anxious. I wanted to get that first tee shot out of the way and get the tournament rolling.”

At one point Saturday, Hutchison was at 10-under.

“I was 4-under through five holes Saturday, but I gave it back,” he said. “At that point, I was probably right around the top 10. But I had four bogeys coming in.”

Hutchison’s brother, Sean, was his caddie. So did he tip him well afterwards?

“He’ll get 10 percent, so yes,” he said, laughing.

Hutchison goes back-to-back in Bridgestone Winter Series

Harmony, Fla. - November 10, 2011 – For the second week in a row, the NGA Pro Golf Tour’s Bridgestone Winter Series came down to a battle between a pair of former Michigan State Spartans. And for the second time in as many weeks, Randall Hutchison came out on top.

Hutchison of Traverse City, Mich., fired a 5-under 67 in the final round at Harmony (Fla.) Golf Preserve to outlast Matthew Harmon by two shots on Thursday afternoon. Hutchison finished with rounds of 65-67-67 for a 17-under 199 total.

“It feels good,” said Hutchison, who earned $12,462. “I had a lot of confidence after last week and I did my best to keep it going this week. I rolled the ball really well this week and made a lot of big putts.”

He also avoided costly mistakes. All told, Hutchison carded just four bogeys during the event, and none came in the first round.

“Shooting a 65 in the first round was very important,” said Hutchison. “There were a lot of good players here ready to play. I just tried to play my game. I made some putts, went bogey-free in the first round and my name was atop the leaderboard.”

And just like last week, his name was followed closely by fellow Spartan Matthew Harmon.

Harmon of Grand Rapids, Mich., opened with rounds of 67-66 to join Hutchison in the final group for the second event in a row.

“We actually rode in the same cart,” said Hutchison. “He’s a good friend of mine and we just tried to have a good time today.”

Harmon closed with a respectable 4-under 68, but he came up two shots short of a playoff at 15-under par. Harmon, a multi-time NGA Pro Golf Tour winner, earned $6,199 for the runner-up finish.

Both Harmon and Hutchison will head to the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School next week.

“As a golfer, you want to peak at this time of the year,” said Hutchison. “I’m going to look at next week as just another golf tournament. My confidence is high, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Andy Winings of Brownsburg, Ind., finished third with rounds of 68-65-70 for a 13-under 203 total. Winings earned $5,161 for the podium finish.

Marc-Etienne Bussieres (Gatineau, Canada) finished fourth at 12-under par, while Sihwan Kim (Orlando) and Michael Schachner (Libertyville, Ill.) finished 11-under par and tied for fifth.

Lion Kim (Lake Mary), Brian Maurer (Richmond, Ind.) and Jesse Hutchins (Kirkersville, Ohio) finished T7 and 10-under par. Lanto Griffin (Blacksburg, Va.), Jarrett Grimes (Columbia, S.C.) and Scott Feaster (Columbia, S.C.) finished T10 at 9-under par.

For full-field scores, click here.

The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the No. 1 recommended developmental tour by more PGA and Nationwide Tour Professionals than any other tour in the country. The Tour also pays out over $1 million more than any other development tour in the country.

The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the Third Largest Men’s 72 Hole Professional Golf Tour in the United States behind the Nationwide and PGA Tours and has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA, Nationwide, and Champions Tour cards. In fact, NGA Pro Golf Tour Alumni have won an incredible Thirteen (13) “Major” Championships.

Alumni include: 2011 PGA Championship winner and 2009 NGA Pro Golf Tour member Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA winners Scott Piercy, Scott Stallings, Sean O’Hair, Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland; Jim Furyk, the 2010 FedExCup winner and PGA Tour Player of the Year; Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open Champion; Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open Champion; Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters Champion; Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion; Ben Curtis, winner of the 2003 British Open; Lee Janzen, a two-time US Open winner; John Daly, a British Open and PGA Champion; Tom Lehman, winner of the British Open; David Toms, a past PGA Champion; Chad Campbell, the 2003 Tour Championship winner; Vaughn Taylor, a two-time Reno Tahoe Open winner; Craig Perks, winner of the TPC, and many, many more. At this year’s PGA Tour Qualifying School, 46% of the players that earned full exempt status on the PGA Tour (including 2010 Player of the Year Michael Thompson) and 52% of the players that earned status on the Nationwide Tour have spent time on the NGA Pro Golf Tour. In 2011, 23 former NGA Pro Golf Tour players will be advancing to the PGA

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For more information on the NGA Pro Golf Tour, contact the Tour Office at (800) 992-8748.