Nagy handling favorite’s role with ease

MANISTIQUE – As the first day of golf at the UPGA Championships drew to a close at the Indian Lake Country Club Thursday, Mike Nagy of Manistique left little room for surprises. He finished with a 68, the top score for the day.

“This is my home course, so I’ve played it thousands of times,” Nagy said. “I know it pretty well.”

Nagy, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, added that he felt very comfortable playing on the course, and it was almost as if he had never left.

“It was pretty solid,” he said. “I had it to 6-under, and then I made one bad decision on hole 14. But besides that, I was pretty happy with it.”

Scott Lancour of Escanaba had the second-best outing of the day, finishing with a 71.

Chad Wester of Marquette, Tim Drees of Menominee, Joe Quinn of Gladstone, and Mark Clements of Ishpeming all shot 73’s, while Joe Collard of Menominee and Erik Spindler of Gladstone shot 74.

Several competitors came in with scores of 75, including Rob Ryan of Manistique, Reese Lassila of Calumet, Tim Steiger of Ironwood, Ben Strong of Ontonagon, and Dustin Dishaw of Crystal Falls.

Jim Markell, who won last year’s UPGA crown, shared the green with Nagy and finished with a 78.

“It was a disappointment today,” Markell said. “It started off as a grind, and I bogeyed three of the first four holes, but I was able to save a couple of strokes at the end and have a fighting chance at making something happen tomorrow.”

He also said that it was a pleasure to watch Nagy play.

“He was awesome today,” he added. “He just knows where to hit the ball and make the shots, and he should. He grew up on this course, and you expect that out of him. But you never assume anything. For him to come out and put up a number like he did, It’s fun to watch. He’ll be tough to beat the next three days.”

However, Markell stated that it can still be anyone’s game as long as they can stay within 10 strokes heading into the last day of competition.

“A lot of guys settle down and get into a rhythm after the first day,” he said.

Bob Sands, Indian Lake’s club manager, said he thinks the turnout has been great so far and everything has gone off without a hitch.

“We’ve had a tremendous number of volunteers that have done great work and all our planning has come to fruition,” he said. “I think it went really well.”

He added that the course plays hard, despite what meets the eye.

“It looks easy, but if you don’t put yourself in the proper position in a lot of areas, the course will fight you,” he said. “It’s a good golf course, and you have to know where to put yourself.”

The UPGA Championship continues through Sunday, and the qualifying rounds will end after today’s events.