IRON MOUNTAIN - The U.P. Golf Association's 2006 champion has designs on another title.
Menominee's Tim Drees threatened Pine Grove Country Club's course record Thursday, opening the 98th annual men's championships with a seven-under par 65. The Ellis twins from Negaunee, defending champion Dan and Dave, stand four shots back at 69.
"You hope to win, but I just like to compete, do well and have fun," Drees said of his title hopes.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
The 98th annual U.P. Golf Association Men’s Championships began Thursday morning at Pine Grove Country Club with the opening foursome of Dale Ward (from left), Brian Tirschel, Leon Waitrovich and Mike Massie.
Drees eagled the 509-yard second hole en route to a 31 on the front nine. He also tallied six birdies.
"It was just a matter of keeping it in play, getting it on the green and giving yourself a chance for birdie," Drees said. "I hit my driver real well and hit some 3-woods off the tee.
"I hit one bad shot tee shot all day that took me out of play."
Drees, who recorded a bogey on the par-4 11th hole, missed matching the course record by one stroke. John (Gus) Koskinen of Baraga erased the Pine Grove record with a 64 in a 2002 U.P. round.
Drees prepared for the U.P. tourney by winning this summer's Highland Open in Hyde.
"That helped me coming into this tournament," Drees said. "I don't play a lot of stroke play events. The Highland Open gave me some confidence playing a stroke-play event."
Eagles on the par-5 sixth and 12th holes lifted Dave Ellis to a share of second place after the first round.
"It was survival, actually," he said. "It was a rough start."
Ellis managed to be level at the turn despite four bogeys.
"I started hitting it a lot better on the back nine," said Dave Ellis, who couldn't remember ever posting two eagles in one round. "I had two good approaches on both of those eagles (and was left with 10-footers).
"Your card doesn't add up too quickly when you've got a pair of eagles."
Dan Ellis, like his brother Dave a member of the Michigan State University golf team, "managed" his 69 with four birdies and one bogey.
"It was more of an organized score card today," said Dan Ellis, who won the 2008 and 2011 U.P. titles. "I just plodded around the course well."
The patient Ellis opened with five pars and birdied the par-5 sixth hole. He wound up with birdies on three of Pine Grove's four par-5 holes.
"When you're taking care of the par fives and hitting a lot of greens, the score usually stays relatively low," said Ellis, who hit 14 greens in regulation. "I putted OK and hit it OK, but it was just more of managed 69."
Jim Markell led the home course delegation, shooting par-72 for fourth. Westwood High School golf coach Jared Koski is fifth with a 73.
Forest Park High School standout Dustin Dishaw and Ontonagon's Joe Strong each carded 74.
Ten golfers registered 75 including two-time U.P. king Mark Clements of Ishpeming and Manistique High School ace Mike Nagy.
Second-round play occurs today at Pine Grove, with the 190-man field flighted heading into Saturday.
First-round scores Thursday from the 98th annual U.P. Golf Association Men's Championships at Pine Grove Country Club in Iron Mountain (score, name and home course):
65 - Tim Drees, Menominee River.
69 - Dan Ellis and Dave Ellis, Ishpeming Wawonowin.
72 - Jim Markell, Iron Mountain Pine Grove.
73 - Jared Koski, Ishpeming Wawonowin.
74 - Dustin Dishaw, Crystal Falls; Joe Strong, Ontonagon.
75 - Mark Ray, Escanaba Highland; Brett Hauswirth, Houghton Portage Lake; Randy Ellis, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Gary Greis, Gladstone; Paul Bujold, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Mike Nagy, Manistique Indian Lake; KC Bjorne, Marquette; Joey Collard, Marinette Little River; Rob Ryan, Manistique Indian Lake; Mark Clements, Ishpeming Wawonowin.
76 - Mike Peters, Norway Oak Crest; Frank Kutcher, Sault (Ont.) Crimson Ridge; Tony Prahaska, Marinette Little River; Mark Siem, Menominee North Shore; Mitch Huru, Houghton Portage Lake; Steve Douglas, Gladstone Terrace Bluff; Dave Jahn, Sault; Darren Niemi, Houghton Portage Lake; Marc Mogan, Iron Mountain Pine Grove.
77 - Noah Kiser, Norway Oak Crest; Jeff Jayne, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Bill Langlois, Menominee River; Charlie Siem, Menominee North Shore; Thomas Talaska, Ironwood Gogebic; Mike Brayak, Escanaba Highland; Chris Rhoades, Gwinn Red Fox.
78 - Cody Langdon, Ontonagon; Jim Myllyla, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Tom LaVigne, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Fred Behling, Iron River; Adam Spaulding, Munising Pictured Rocks.
79 - Brian Bongi, Norway Oak Crest; Jared Reid, Hurley Eagle Bluff; Chad Tirschel, Norway Oak Crest; Matt Smith Jr., Gladstone Irish Oaks; Paul Schrader, Escanaba; Tim Chamberlain, Escanaba Highland; Eric Johnson, Marquette; Zak Langdon, Ironwood Gogebic; Chris LaVigne, Iron Mountain Pine Grove; Mike Solda, Norway Oak Crest.