HYDE - Tim Drees almost finished off the Highland Open with a real flourish. Instead, it was merely a pretty nice finish.
Drees drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the 45th hole Sunday to win the men's golf tournament for the second time. He finished a stroke ahead of Ron Sintowski, who also birdied the last hole.
Drees finished 172 (72-67-33) while Sintowski, of Marquette, shot 173 (70-68-35). Matt Argall of Gladstone was third with 174 (73-68-33), with Steve Schmidt of Menominee at 175 (69-70-36) and Casey VanDamme of Knoxville, Tenn. fifth (71-70-35 - 176).
Dennis Grall | Daily Press
Tim Drees of Menominee crouches to study his chipping line to the pin on No. 5 at Highland Golf Club Sunday. He parred that hole, then birdied No. 6 to take the lead and went on to claim the title. For more photos, visit cu.dailypress.net.
Defending champion Mike Nagy of Manistique bogied the final two holes and finished at 177 (73-68-36).
The approach shot by Drees would have provided for a spectacular finish. His chip shot for eagle-2 from about 70 yards hit the pin and appeared to drop slightly into the hole before spinning out and sliding back down the green.
Not rattled by the near miss, Drees simply went center-cut for his birdie before Sintowksi hit his birdie on nearly the same line from about seven feet.
Tim Drees, Menominee, 72-67-33 - 172; Ron Sintowski, Marquette, 70-68-35 - 173; Matt Argall, Gladstone, 73-68-33 - 174; Steve Schmidt, Menominee, 69-70-36 - 175; Casey VanDamme, Knoxville, Tenn., 71-70-35 - 176.
First - Rob Ryan, Manistique, 142; Second - Jack Woodall, 148; Third - Jim Peltier, Highland, 154; Fourth - Kevin Vogel, Highland, 154; Fifth - Steve VanEnkevort, Highland, 157; Sixth - Barton Jeffries, 165; Seventh - Chris Hilker, Rochester, Minn., 166; Eighth - Sam Ballard, Gladstone, 171.
Indicating he expected Sintowski to make his putt, Drees said "I didn't want to leave it up to him. You want to make the putt to win. You don't want to be biting your fingernails waiting. It is nice to win on your own putt."
Drees was in the first flight with the option of playing for the championship over the final nine holes. "I figured if I was within three strokes of the lead I would definitely play," he said of his plans starting Sunday's round. "I kept grinding it out."
A birdie-birdie finish capped off the first 18, then he birdied the first hole of the final nine before a bogey ended that spurt. A birdie-4 on No. 6, the 24th hole of the day, sent Drees into the lead for good.
"I hold this tournament right up there with the U.P. tournament," said Drees, who won that title in 2006. Noting it is one of only two medal-play events he is able to enter, he said "this is by far my biggest event of the year besides the U.P."
Drees, like a lot of players and tourney officials, was surprised only one player (Schmidt) broke 70 Saturday with a very friendly course set-up that included choice pin locations and front tee placement.
"The first round I knew I was playing good enough to win. Leading up to the tournament I was all over the map," said Drees.
"It was right down to the end," said Drees of edging out a competitive field of 95 players. "It was fun. I enjoy playing tournaments like that."
Nagy, who will play golf at the University of Tennessee, where VanDamme is the assistant coach, ended his title defense by pounding a 7-iron well past the eighth green, which played 178 yards. He had a good chip back but missed a four-foot uphill par putt to seal his fate.
"Nothing dropped," he said, noting his putts and wedges were not up to snuff.
"I put myself in too big of a hole" Saturday. "A 73 on this course is sad. I couldn't have shot much worse."
Nagy is still undecided about playing in the U.P. Golf Association men's tournament next month at Iron Mountain Pine Grove Country Club, but appears to be leaning in favor of entering.