Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — BOYNE FALLS — Lee Houtteman shot into contention Tuesday in the 22nd annual Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain.
The 52-year-old Houtteman, the head pro at Manitou Passage, fired a 6-under-par 66 Tuesday to move within a stroke of the lead. He’s at 136 after two rounds. Houtteman carded a 70 Monday.
“As low as those guys went yesterday, I told somebody you got to get four or five under,” Houtteman, the 2011 champion, said. “Six was more that I kind of hoped for, but I hit some great putts today. I putted real well.”
Leader Drew Preston, a 22-year-old Grand Rapids mini-tour professional, shot a 1-under-par 71 on the Alpine course to go with his first-round 64 for a 9-under-par 135. Defending champion JR Roth is tied with Houtteman at 136.
The 54-hole $55,000 tournament, which concludes today, brings together men, women, seniors, juniors, professionals and amateurs who have won major Michigan golf titles.
Preston will be playing different tees than Roth and Houtteman, who are considered seniors in this event.
The former Bowling Green State University golfer is not worried about the distance factor, however. He is striving to find day-to-day consistency. He started the second round with seven pars and three bogeys in the first 10 holes before closing with four birdies in the last eight holes.
“I have been struggling with day-to-day consistency so I was kind of curious how it was going to go,” Preston said. “It started off not so well, but by the end of it I figured it out. I just knew I had to start making birdies. There was no wind, the sun was coming out.”
Preston, Roth and Houtteman will be in the final threesome. They’ll tee off at 9:20 a.m.
Houtteman, who was the Michigan Senior PGA champion last year, said it will take great putting and some birdies to get the win.
“I’ve worked with (Scott Hebert of Grand Traverse Resort) for a lot of years, and he has changed the way I think about putting,” he said. “You putt better it makes the game a lot easier and I’m putting a lot better now.”
Traverse City amateur Patrick Colburn is at 1-over 145. Hebert and Traverse City’s Larry Clark follow at 2-over 146. Clark was tied for third after shooting a 68 Monday, but he came back with a 78 Tuesday.