IRON MOUNTAIN - The U.P. Golf Association's 2006 champion has his sights set 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.
Dan Ellis of Negaunee eyes his tee shot on Thursday at Pine Grove Country Club during the UPGA Men’s Championship. Dan and his twin brother Dave each shot a 69 Thursday to sit in second, four strokes off the lead. Dave Ellis’ round included a pair of eagles. (Iron Mountain Daily News by Burt Angeli)
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."
Dave 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, is a member of the Michigan State University golf team. He "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."
Westwood High School golf coach Jared Koski is fifth with a 73.
Ten golfers registered 75 including two-time U.P. king Mark Clements of Ishpeming and Manistique High School ace Mike Nagy, who is heading to the University of Tennessee in the fall.
Second-round play occurs today at Pine Grove, with the 190-man field flighted heading into Saturday.