WASHINGTON, Mich. – Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon started the second round of the Michigan Open Championship wanting to catch first-round leader Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood by the end of the day.
He was successful.
The Muskegon mini-tour player and 2007 Michigan Open champion fired a 5-under-par 67 Tuesday to check in at 8-under-par 136 at The Orchards Golf Club. It left him tied with Werkmeister, who stumbled late in his round with a double bogey and bogey in his last three holes for a 70 and 136.
“My goal was to get to minus-10 because when I teed off I saw Werkmeister was at 10 under,” Ruthkoski said. “I didn’t get to 10, but I’m tied for the lead and I’m good with that.”
Ruthkoski and Werkmeister earned just a one-shot lead on Eric Wohlfield, a Royal Oak resident from Brighton who shot 67 for 137. Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo, the defending champion who shot a second consecutive 69, was lurking just two shots off the lead at 138.
Six-time Michigan Open champion Scott Hebert, who shot 71, Matt Thompson of Battle Creek, who shot 70, and Josh Fryer of Franklin Hills, who shot 71, made up the group at 140. Former Michigan State golfer Chris Mory of Haslett had the low round of the day with a 66 to head a group of six golfers at 141.
“If you want to contend here, you have to make birdies,” Ruthkoski said. “You can make a bogey, but then you’ve got to make a couple of extra birdies to make up for it. And bogeys are just that much more frustrating out here.”
Ruthkoski, a former Michigan State standout, made his only bogey of the day on No. 7, which was his 16th hole of the round. He made up for it with six birdies and a 4-under-par 32 on his front nine (the course back nine).
Werkmeister, meanwhile, was 11 under for the tournament through 15 holes of his second round. Then an errant shot hit a tree on No. 7 and ended up in a hazard. The resulting double bogey was followed by a par save from the trees on No. 8, then a bogey with a missed green at No. 9.
“I was playing same as yesterday, just rock solid,” said the 45-year-old internet salesman who opened the tournament with a 66. “Then I had two bad swings. If nothing else, it gets me a little fired up to come back tomorrow. It was like I was playing for two days waiting for something bad to happen. Now it has happened, and I go from there.”
Wohlfield, 33 and concentrating on playing tournament golf this summer, said his ball striking has been great.
“I’m just waiting for some putts to fall,” said the club pro who finished second in the Michigan Open three years ago. “I’ve been playing real solid.”
The 36-hole cut fell at 7-over-par 151, two shots higher than last year.