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2008 News Archive

Season Recap

Brian Cairns Leads 2008 Order of Merit

October 21, 2008

Brian Cairns
The Michigan Players Tour would like to extend its appreciation to all of the players who participated in Tour events this summer.

Brian Cairns of Waterford led the 2008 Michigan Players Tour Order of Merit, winning $1,750.00 in 4 events. Cairns, who is a teaching professional at Highland Golf Center in Milford, was the Michigan PGA Player Of The Year in 2000. He is a two time winner of the Michigan PGA Professional Championship, and finished second to 2008 PGA Professional National Champion Scott Hebert in the Championship this year. Cairns' scoring average for the season on Tour was 73.00 (4 rounds).

During the 2008 season, the Tour conducted a total of 9 events, and paid out $9,525.00 in prize money. Overall, 28 different players participated during 2008. In the three seasons the Tour has been in operation, 26 events have been conducted, with 77 different players participating. Total prize money paid out during the three seasons was $25,165.00.

A complete list of money winners in 2008 is shown below.

The Michigan Players Tour

2008 Order of Merit

Final Standings

Brian Cairns Waterford, MI
Paul Wilson Grayling, MI
Justin Hull Birmingham, MI
John Parke III Howell, MI
Craig Hicks Tecumseh, ON
Jason Swihart Jackson, MI
John Raymond III Traverse City, MI
Brad Phillion Saginaw, MI
Jeff Rachar Highland, MI
Ken Carter Traverse City, MI
Jay Jurecic Caspian, MI
Jacob Leyrer Lansing, MI
Derek Arnett Hartland, MI
Matt Zavadil Rochester Hills, MI
 Total Prize Money Paid

Parke III Wins Michigan Players Tour Championship

Superb 71 in cool and wet conditions bests Cairns by 3

October 6, 2008

John Parke III
Bath, Michigan -- It was the final event of the year, played on one of the most difficult courses in Michigan.

And with fall-like weather conditions only the toughest players could tolerate, it was John Park III of Howell who posted a superb one under par 71 to win the Michigan Players Tour Championship October 6th at Hawk Hollow Resort (Eagle Eye G.C.) in Bath. Brian Cairns of Waterford, runner up in the 2008 Michigan PGA Professional Championship and a two-time winner on Tour this year, finished 2nd with a 74.

The event was played in cool and wet conditions, with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s for most of the round and a light drizzle. Heavy rains a couple of days prior to the event forced the Tour to implement the lift, clean, and place rule. Despite the conditions, the course was in excellent shape, with the greens running at about 11 on the Stimpmeter. All but 3 of the holes were played at their maximum length.

The Tour Championship drew a field of 13 players, the largest field on the Tour in 2008. Because the event drew at least 12 players, the Tour was able to pay out $1,000.00 to the champion.

"We made a promise this year to pay a minimum of one grand to the winner of each event drawing at least 12 players," said Tour Director Ken Carter. "Unfortunately, it took us the entire season before we had 12 players actually show up. I think things will pick up, though, especially as the Michigan economy begins to recover."

The Tour would like to thank all of the players who participated in Tour events this season, and to encourage them to keep an eye on this web site for breaking news concerning the 2009 season.

Images from The Michigan Players Tour Championship
 16th hole, 458 yards, Par 4
17th hole, 146 yds., par 3
18th hole, 589 yards, Par 5

Cairns Prevails At Shanty Creek Open

Wilson, Carter finish 1 stroke back

September 22, 2008

Brian Cairns
Bellaire, Michigan – On an ideal day for scoring, Brian Cairns of Waterford overcame a balky driver and a couple of near disasters to post an even par 72 and win the Shanty Creek Open on September 22. His score bettered Paul Wilson of Grayling and Tour Director Ken Carter by one shot.

A teaching professional based at Highland Golf Center in Milford, Cairns is a two time winner of the Michigan PGA Championship, and finished second to PGA Professional National Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City in the Championship this year.

Playing conditions were perfect, sunny and 74 degrees with light winds. With the maple trees in Northern Michigan now beginning to sport fall colors, Cedar River G.C. was the place to be on Monday. Unfortunately for the event, only four players were on hand to compete.

"It's always disappointing to have so few players competing in an event," noted Carter. "But even with 4 players, the competition is intense, and you have to play extremely well to prevail. Everyone in the group today had a chance to win, and it all came down to the last hole. I know I had the adrenaline going."

Images from The Shanty Creek Open
 5th hole, 442 yards, Par 4
7th Hole, 425 yds., par 4
12th Hole, 465 yards, Par 4

Phillion Endures To Win At Robert Trent Jones Masterpiece

Only player to post a score under 80

September 15, 2008

Brad Phillion
Treetops Village, Michigan – Living up to its reputation, the Robert Trent Jones Masterpiece at the Treetops Resort in Gaylord again withstood all challengers, yielding only one score under 80 in the Treetops Resort Open on September 15. Brad Phillion of Saginaw was the winner, posting a 6 over par 77. Paul Wilson of Grayling, winner of the Saginaw Valley Open the week before, finished 3 shots back.

"This event has a history of high winning scores," says Ken Carter, Director of the Tour. "In 2006, I shot 79 to win, and in 2007, in heavy winds, the winning score was 82. It's one thing to play here for fun, but when you are playing it competitively for a score, it's an awesome challenge."

Weather was not a factor the day of the event, which turned out sunny and 56 degrees. The course was extremely wet, however, as the remnants of Hurricane Ike passed over Michigan the day before, dropping about 2 inches of rain. The event was played under lift, clean, and place conditions.

Phillion, an unaffiliated professional who works in the electrical supply business in Saginaw, played a solid round highlighted by a chip in birdie on the 208 yard par three 13th.

Images from The Treetops Resort Open
 6th hole, 180 yards, Par 3
8th Hole, 452 yds., par 4
Lance Davis marking great approach on 11

Wilson Finds Inspiration On The Mountain

Four under par 33 on back nine leads to victory

September 8, 2008

Paul Wilson
Freeland, Michigan – On a day that began cool and overcast, it took several holes for the sun to finally break out for the players competing in the Saginaw Valley Open on the Michigan Players Tour. And when it did, it was Paul Wilson of Grayling who responded with a blistering 4 under par 33 on the back nine at The Golf Club at Apple Mountain to shoot a one under par 71 and win by three shots over Jacob Leyrer of Lansing. This was Wilson’s first win on Tour this year.

Wilson, who was the leading money winner on the Michigan Players Tour in 2007, had an adventurous week prior to the round. He had spent several days bear hunting in Northern Ontario north of Lake Superior, and immediately upon his return had to make a trip to Jackson to visit his father in the hospital. According to Wilson, he had put nearly 2,000 miles on his truck in the previous week.

The Golf Club at Apple Mountain is an excellent layout that features very fast and undulating greens, numerous bunkers, and plenty of water coming into play on several holes. Playing at 6,962 yards par 72, it isn’t extremely long, but the design forces the player to hit accurate shots or else. “Apple Mountain was an excellent test, and all of the players really liked it,” said Tour Director Ken Carter. “I can certainly envision a really big Tour event out here one day."

Images from The Saginaw Valley Open
 4th hole, 396 yards, Par 4
5th Hole, 175 yds., par 3
6th Hole, 425 yds., par 4

Swihart 's 71 Wins At The Grande

Dakotas Tour vet overcomes tricky greens to post only subpar score

August 18, 2008

Jason Swihart
Jackson, Michigan – Fresh off a stint on the Dakotas Tour, Jason Swihart of Jackson overcame the tricky greens of The Grande G.C. to post a one under par 71 to win The Jackson Open August 18th on the Michigan Players Tour. Jeff Rachar, assistant professional at Pine Lake C.C. in Orchard Lake, finished second, a distant seven shots back.

Swihart will return to the Dakotas Tour next week to play in the final 3 events, and then will return to Michigan in preparation for PGA Tour Qualifying School. His prequalifier will be at Woodbridge G.C. in Wylie, Texas, September 23 - 26.

The Grande is a beautifully designed course by Raymond Hearn, and features a very distinctive style of bunkering as well as some of Michigan's most challenging greens. Many of the players in the field were consistently fooled by the undulating greens and three putts were common. The course plays at 7,181 yards, par 72.

Brian Cairns of Milford, winner of the Majestic Open on July 28th, was slated to play but withdrew due to injury.

The event was played in near perfect conditions, with temperatures in the low 80's, very little humidity, and a moderate breeze of 10 - 15 mph from the west.

Images from The Jackson Open
 6th hole, 403 yards, Par 4
16th Hole, 480 yds., par 4
4th Hole, 502 yds., par 5

Hull Survives At Tullymore

Difficult setup, slick greens thwart low scores

August 11, 2008

Justin Hull
Stanwood, Michigan – It was one of the most spectacular days of the year – sunny and 76 degrees, with just a hint of a breeze. A day absolutely perfect for scoring.

But in this idyllic setting, it seems the greens staff at the beautiful, 7,148 yard par 72 Tullymore G.C. saw us coming. With several pins tucked into their most difficult locations, and even the easier pins located on extremely tricky slopes, it was a struggle to score from the first hole on.

Just ask Justin Hull of Birmingham, who missed a short par putt from above the hole on the first, leading to a double bogey.

But in the end, it was Hull who made the fewest mistakes overall to win the Big Rapids Open August 11 on The Michigan Players Tour. His score of 3 over 75 clipped Paul Wilson of Grayling and Majestic Open winner Brian Cairns of Waterford by one stroke.

Tullymore G.C. is one of two elegant courses at the St. Ives Resort, which is located just a few miles southeast of Big Rapids in west central lower Michigan. It is a challenging Jim Engh design that traverses numerous lakes and wetlands, and features unique bunkering which frames the small but extremely undulating greens. The area is a year-round resort paradise, with spectacular golf courses, snowmobile and ATV trails, and numerous lakes and streams comprising the Canadian Lakes chain nearby.

Images from The Big Rapids Open
 10th hole, 458 yards, Par 4
18th Hole, 535 yds., par 5
18th Hole, 535 yds., par 5

Cairns Is Magic At Majestic

Two under par 70 bests field by five shots

July 28, 2008

Brian Cairns

Hartland, Michigan – Two time Michigan PGA Champion Brian Cairns of Milford shot a sizzling 4 under par 32 on the front nine, and then held on during the final nine to win The Majestic Open on The Michigan Players Tour July 28th. Paul Wilson of Grayling and Derek Arnett of Hartland tied for second with 3 over par 75's.

The event was held at The Majestic at Lake Walden, a beautiful layout that winds its way through the heavily forested and hilly terrain surrounding Lake Walden just west of Hartland. Although not extremely long at 7,009 yards, it requires accurate driving to set up decent approaches into the undulating greens. The course also boasts two of the most difficult par 3's you will find anywhere.

The round was played in perfect scoring conditions with temperatures in the low to mid 80's and virtually no wind. “It was a perfect day, a great course, and tough competition, which is precisely what we’re trying to create out here on the Tour,” notes Tour Director Ken Carter. “It’s still amazing why more players aren’t signing up to play."

Images from The Majestic Open
 3rd hole, 392 yards, Par 4
6th Hole, 321 yds., par 4
13th Hole, 353 yds., par 4

Next Up -- The Traverse City Open

Tour to extend entry deadline, will play some events even if less than 12 players enter

July 1, 2008

3rd hole, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (The Wolverine)
491 yards, Par 4
The Michigan Players Tour has decided to extend the deadline to enter the Traverse City Open, scheduled for Wednesday, July 9th at The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (The Wolverine). The deadline will now be Saturday, July 5th.

The Tour has also decided to play certain events even if the minimum of 12 players is not met. With less than 12 players, the prize money formula will revert to the method used during 2007.

According to Tour Director Ken Carter, the changes were made in order to keep at least some of the events in 2008 alive. "When it's sunny and 74 degrees outside, I'd rather compete against 8 or 10 guys than not compete at all. Playing a great course for a $600.00 or $700.00 first place check is a lot better than watching a bunch of soap operas on TV."

Should any event draw 12 or more players, the Tour will pay a minimum $1,000.00 first place check.

Hicks Secures Win At Fieldstone Open

Canadian Tour player battles tough winds in triumph

June 16, 2008

Craig Hicks
Auburn Hills, Michigan – Battling stiff westerly winds throughout the final nine, Canadian Tour player Craig Hicks of Tecumseh, Ontario shot a one under par 71 at Fieldstone G.C. of Auburn Hills to capture the second event of the 2008 Michigan Players Tour. Hicks picked up $1,000.00 for the win.

Justin Hull of Birmingham shot an even par 36 on the back nine to finish with 73, giving him second place over Jay Jurecic of Caspian, who finished 7th in the Michigan Open the week before.

Rain in the Detroit Metro area on Sunday left the course soft and receptive, and with light winds for much of the first nine, Hicks ripped the front nine in three under par 33. On the back nine, winds became increasingly gusty and reached speeds up to 25 mph. The dramatically different conditions led to a two over par 38 on the back nine for Hicks, but it was enough to hold on for the win.

Hicks has exempt status on the Canadian Tour for 2008, but has decided to remain close to home for the first half of the season. He entered the Fieldstone Open to get in some practice prior to the PGA Tour Buick Open prequalifier, which was to be played at Fieldstone June 19th.

Growing The Tour In 2008

Changes made to help increase participation

May 25, 2008

Some thoughts concerning the 2008 season on the Michigan Players Tour:

Players desire Tour to succeed

Despite growing pains and a weak economy, the Michigan Players Tour continues to receive numerous inquiries and encouragement from interested players. "In all of my contacts with players around the state and the country, everyone wants to see the Tour succeed," says Ken Carter, Director of the Tour.

"The Michigan Players Tour offers one of the most challenging and beautiful selections of courses of any professional tour in the world, and they are all within three hours driving time of each other," Carter says. "If we can get decent fields and purses, the Tour will be one of the most affordable and effective places to develop one's game in the country. If a player can come out here and consistently post scores one or two under par on these courses, they will definitely be ready to compete at the highest level."

Tour will no longer publish number of entries

Since the Tour began operations in 2006, it has published the number of entries for each event on the Schedule page of the web site. Unfortunately, this has actually led to smaller fields in events.

"As you know, every tournament starts out with zero entries," Carter says. "The problem is, players see this number on the web site and decide not to enter until the number grows. With everyone waiting for everyone else to enter, nobody enters."

To break this cycle, Carter offers this suggestion. "If you want to play, just sign up and place the $50.00 deposit down for the event. When the deadline arrives, the Tour will notify you how many entries have been received. If you do not like the projected number of players, you can withdraw and receive a full refund."

"Once we have a few events where everyone who wants to play actually does, the Tour will start realizing its potential," Carter says.

Deadline changed to enter events

Effective June 9th, the deadline to enter events on the Michigan Players Tour will be moved to 5 pm the week before each event. This will allow the Tour to notify courses of changes in the number of tee times or cancellations with enough advance warning to minimize disruptions.

"If we do not receive at least 12 entries by the deadline, the Tour will be forced to cancel the event," Carter says. "If we get the 12, we will continue to take additional entries until we run out of tee times. So get those entries in ASAP."

Sponsorship possible with increased participation

With small fields, the Tour has been a tough sell to sponsors. "We're in the classic 'catch-22' situation for startup tours -- the Tour can't attract sponsorship without player participation, and players are waiting for the Tour to obtain sponsorship before they participate," Carter says.

Despite this, the Tour has been contacted by two Michigan casinos interested in sponsoring events, and the Tour is developing proposals for these events. "Given the state of the economy right now, it is very encouraging to see these resorts express interest in the Tour," Carter says. "If the players start showing up, we will definitely see sponsors jumping on board."

Tour To Publish e-Newsletter

May 5, 2008

The Michigan Players Tour is now publishing an e-newsletter containing news, results, and "inside information" about the Tour's efforts to build top level tournaments in Michigan.

The newsletter will be published monthly, and will link to the Tour web site.

2008 Schedule Complete

January 28, 2008

Some of the courses to be used on the 2008 Tour
The Michigan Players Tour schedule for 2008 is now complete, and will consist of 17 events throughout the state beginning June 3rd.

In order to make the Tour more accessible to players, the Tour schedule now includes several events in the greater Detroit Metro area, the I-94 corridor, and in the Saginaw Valley. In addition, most events will occur on Mondays, which should allow more PGA Section pros and assistants the opportunity to play.

"The schedule this year combines a solid lineup of courses which will definitely challenge every player on the Tour, but which also makes it more convenient for players to participate," says Tour Director Ken Carter. "More events will be played down state, which means a shorter drive for most players."

There are several courses making their first appearance on the schedule this year, including Fieldstone G.C. in Auburn Hills, Northville Hills G.C. in Northville, Coyote Preserve G.C. in Fenton, The Majestic at Lake Walden in Howell, Timber Trace G.C. in Pinckney, The Golf Club at Apple Mountain in Freeland, and The Fortress in Frankenmuth.

To see the full lineup of events, please go to the Schedule page of this web site.

2008 Schedule Progressing

November 18, 2007

3rd Hole, Fieldstone G.C.
The Michigan Players Tour schedule for 2008 is continuing to take shape, and will include a number of new courses not previously used on the Tour. Among the new courses contacted are Coyote Preserve G.C. in Fenton, Apple Mountain G.C. in Freeland, The Fortress in Frankenmuth, and The Majestic at Lake Walden in Howell.

One of the events recently added to the schedule is an 18 hole shootout at Fieldstone G.C. of Auburn Hills on Monday, June 16th. Players should note this is just 3 days before the PGA Tour Buick Open prequalifier at Fieldstone, and will be an excellent tune up for players hoping to get to the June 23rd Monday qualifier, which also takes place at Fieldstone.

In creating the 2008 schedule, the Tour has decided to conduct most of its18 hole events on Mondays, and most 36 hole events on Mondays and Tuesdays. This should allow more PGA Section players to participate.

Player Priority List

To help build larger fields in events, the Tour has decided to create a "player priority list" for the 2008 season. The creation of the list will accomplish three things:

  • determine which players will get into events with a limited number of tee times;
  • help the Tour gauge the number of players expected to play in any given event;
  • get an early indication of overall participation.

Any player who is thinking about participating this year is encouraged to call or email the Tour office as soon as possible to tell us which events you might play in and to provide basic contact information. Although the list of events you provide will be non-binding, your early inclusion on the list will allow you to get into those events should the number of tee times for that event be limited. In addition, should certain events receive fewer proposed entries, it will allow the Tour to target its marketing efforts on those particular events.

As always, the Tour requests any player planning to play this year continue to "spread the word" about the Tour to your friends and to other players you come in contact with during the course of the season. Building the Tour will continue to require a "team effort."

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