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South Lyon, Essexville juniors win Big I
by Julie Kettlewell

The 32nd-annual Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic (Big I) State Finals drew 82 young players to Gaylord July 17. The scenic Rick Smith Tradition course at Treetops Resort was the setting for the competition, played against a backdrop of tall timbers and blue skies and cooled by 25-30 mile-per-hour winds.

Erin Borowiec of South Lyon took the top spot in the 18-hole girls’ division, with Chad Horner of Essexville claiming the boys’ title in a playoff. Horner finished the 36-hole contest with a 2-over 142, as did Sean Kelly of Suttons Bay and Nigel Hawryliw of Muskegon. Hawryliw was eliminated on the first hole of the playoff when Horner and Kelly birdied. They then moved on to the 11th hole and closed out the match when Kelly double-bogeyed. Horner bogeyed yet won the championship “I made a 15-foot putt,” Horner grinned. “Sean missed about a 5-footer.”

And putting, it appeared, was a major factor for all contenders throughout the day as the strong winds toyed with tee shots. “The fairways are big,” remarked Horner, who had six birdies on the day. “You’ve got to hit it straight, and you’ve got to putt good.”

This tourney was only one of many on Horner’s rigorous summer schedule, which includes about 40 tourneys in the U.S. and Canada. Borowiec is following an equally demanding schedule. The 17-year-old had over 30 tournaments booked for the summer, and to date has placed first in four events. Borowiec recently took the Michigan PGA junior championship in Battle Creek, and qualified to play in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in Portland, OR.

Winning the Big I, a premier junior tournament, was also a major coup for Borowiec who, like Horner, hopes to one day play the pro circuit. “I want to go to a college that offers a good golf program so that I can improve,” remarked Borowiec, adding that she is looking at Ohio State and hoping to earn a scholarship. After that, her goal is to play professionally. “And if I don’t make the tour,” she added, “I want to be involved in the golf business in some way.” Borowiec shot 35-35-70 to finish the championship at 1-under.

“I’d definitely say there was some tough competition,” said Borowiec. “There were a lot of girls here that I’ve known to shoot good scores.” Trailing Borowiec in the standings was Christy Jonkhoff of Traverse City with a 78, followed by Morgan Pressel of Grosse Pointe Woods and Noel Bishop of Grand Blanc at 79, and Kristyn Buhl of Grosse Ile who rounded out the top five with an 82. Borowiec and Jonkhoff advanced to the national finals in Alpharetta, Ga., scheduled for Aug. 14-18.

Qualifying for nationals along with Horner and Kelly in the boys division were Hawryliw, Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon who posted a 143, Kevin Kremer of Kalamazoo who finished at 145, and Brian Stuard of Jackson who shot a 146.

Matt Derrenberger, the state director for the non-profit event, showered accolades on all the players. “They really played well,” remarked Derrenberger. “The way the wind kicked up this afternoon I was expecting much higher scores, but as usual they pulled through and put up numbers. These kids are just so sound in their mechanics and their swings, and are such polite, nice kids to work with,” he said. “There isn’t a year that goes by I don’t thoroughly enjoy these kids. We all get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

There are 20 local tournaments held throughout Michigan which send qualifiers to the state finals, explained Derrenberger, and the last six out of seven years Michigan has led the nation in participants, with an average 1,200 golfers vying for the eight spots at nationals. Derrenberger also noted that the 2001 nationals are slated for the University of Michigan Blue Course in Ann Arbor.

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