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Robinette, Peterson lead after 1st round of UPGA championship

GLADSTONE — Through the first round of the UPGA men’s tournament, experience and course knowledge appear to already be paying off.

Defending champions Brian Robinette of Escanaba and Mark Clements of Ishpeming, along with Rudy Peterson of Gladstone each shot 2-under par to share the lead after Wednesday’s first round at Terrace Bluff Golf and Country Club.

Three players follow at 72, followed by two at 73, four at 74 and five at 75. Half of the 72-player field came in under 80.

Tee times run from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT today before the field splits up for Friday and Saturday’s final round.

Robinette — a champion in 1995 and ’96 at Highland Golf Club in Hyde — got off to a fast start, including two birdies on the first seven holes. He played consistently throughout the entire round, shooting just one bogey on 16.

“My tournament play is not a lot of medal play now,” he said. “This was one of those tournaments where you got to get those old feelings back, and you know you got to hit it and find it and play it again.

“I know this golf course has some nuances. It has a tree, it has some bunkers, so I just tried to keep myself out of trouble, get some pars and get my feet underneath me, and it started to happen. A couple putts went in early and then I started getting in a rhythm. It’s sort of been a long time — like 10 years or whatever it’s been — but you start to get the old frame of mind of ‘okay, we’re just playing golf.’ That’s what everyone’s trying to do here.”

Clements — last year’s runner-up at Oak Crest in Norway and a champion at his home course in Wawonowin in Ishpeming in 1997 and 2001 — started very strong, shooting a 33 on the front nine before a triple-bogey on 18 hiked his score up a bit.

“I started really strong,” he said. “I was 4-under through six, I made the turn at 3-under, then I made a bogey on 10 and an eagle on 12 to get it back to 4-under, then I made another bogey, another birdie, birdied 16 and 17 and then I tripled 18.

“I’m just happy to be in the hunt … I’m one of the old guys (46). (It feels good) to just hang around, not lose on the first day and keep in contention.”

Peterson — a member at the Bluff and a two-time Division 1 U.P. champion in high school — overcame a bit of a slow start to finish the back nine with a 34.

“I played pretty well,” he said. “There’s a couple shots I wish I could have back, but overall I was happy with how I played. I just want to keep putting well and keep the ball in play.”

Matt Argall — another member at the Bluff and a 2015 champion at Little River Country Club in Marinette — was one of three players who shot an even-par 72. The other two were Mark Gauthier of ECC and Mike Peterson of the Bluff.

“I shot a 72, and a 1- or 2-under I would have been happy with,” Argall said. “It’s not that I’m happy with it because I played the par-5s at 3-over, but it’s the first day. You get comfortable out there and see what happens the next three days.”

He also talked about some things he’d like to improve on to stay in contention.

“I could make a couple more putts,” he said. “I really didn’t miss a lot of greens and I didn’t miss a lot of fairways. The ones I did miss were big penalties, so I guess if I could learn how to hit a draw between tonight and tomorrow, that would be perfect. It’s so small between being 5-under and being even.”

Mike Peterson and Carte Mason checked in at 73. Chad Tirschel, Tom LaVigne, Dylan Gauthier and 2014 champion Joe Quinn tied at 74. John Kositzky Jr., Jeff McCall, Dave Harris, Mike Solda and Soli Nash all carded a 75.

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