The 103rd Michigan Amateur starts today at Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix. Traverse City’s Andrew Chapman is the defending champion.
Chapman is part of a field of 156 golfers selected through exemptions and sectional qualifying. The tournament consists of 18 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday and finishes with a field of 64 for match play. Two rounds of match play are conducted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to determine the Champion.
At age 15, James Piot of Canton is the youngest player in the Michigan Amateur. Grand Blanc’s Greg Reynolds, at 67, is the oldest. Reynolds was the 2002 Senior Amateur Ch
103rd Michigan Amateur Championship starts Monday at Belvedere with Andrew Chapman defending
CHARLEVOIX – Traverse City’s Andrew Chapman has been fitting as much practice in as possible in preparation for the 103rd Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Miles of Golf/Kendall Academy/Titleist.
The 34-year-old financial planner and Grand Blanc native will defend his championship Monday through Friday (16-20) at Belvedere Golf Club, which is hosting the state championship for the unprecedented 40th time.
“It’s been a busy couple of weeks once the weather finally got better up here and I’ve been working on my game every chance I get,” he said during a lunch break practice session Friday. “I’m excited to play, and really not trying to think about defending. Once the gun goes off on Monday I’m just another golfer, and that’s the way I plan to approach it.”
Chapman will head a starting field of 156 golfers determined by exemptions and sectional qualifying at sites across the state in recent weeks. The field will play 18 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday to determine the 64 golfers for the match play bracket. Two rounds of match play each day Wednesday through Friday will determine a champion.
Belvedere is a fitting site for the state’s oldest and most prestigious amateur tournament. The William Watson design considered one of Michigan’s finest classic courses has been lengthened in the last year to 6,870 yards and will play to a par of 70 for the championship. It last hosted the Michigan Amateur in 2003, but from 1963-88 hosted each championship.
Chapman, who made a 20-foot birdie putt to beat Saline’s Mike Ignasiak 1-up for the title last summer at Muskegon Country Club, has visited Belvedere three times since winter finally loosened its grip on the north, including one day last week.
“They have obviously been working very hard because the difference in condition from the first time I was there a few weeks ago to this last week was incredible,” he said. “I have every expectation it’s going to be a great venue. I’m very excited it is close to home.”
Chapman will be one of five former Michigan Amateur champions in the field, including three-time winner Stephen Maddalena of Jackson, who was the 1980, ’90 and ’95 champion, Randy Lewis of Alma, the 1992 and ’99 champion, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield, the 2006 champion, and Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood, the 2009 champion.
The youngest player to make the field is James Piot, 15, of Canton, and the oldest is Grand Blanc’s Greg Reynolds, who is 67 and was the 2002 U.S. Senior Amateur Champion.
Evan Bowser of Dearborn, Henry Do of Canton, Chris Cunningham of Milford, Brian Hayward of Grand Rapids, Kyle Gaines of Oxford, Austin Eccleton of Jackson and Werkmeister, the reigning Michigan Mid-Amateur Champion, are amateurs in the field coming off top 20 finishes in the Michigan Open Championship completed Thursday at Prestwick Village in Highland Township.
Reigning GAM champion Scott Strickland of Birmingham and 2013 Michigan Junior State Amateur Champion Donnie Trosper of Canton are also in the field.
“There’s a bunch of talented young guys, and Michigan in particular, has really strong Mid-Amateurs (over age 25), so it should be a really competitive event,” Chapman said. “I didn’t look at the bracket last year and I don’t plan to again. I find out who I play the night before when I get my tee time. It’s always going to be a great player, and there are players of all ages who could end up taking the Staghorn Trophy home.”
Steve Braun, the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Championship Committee Chairman and Michigan Amateur Championship Chairman, said Belvedere is thrilled to host and many of its members will be part of the volunteer group assisting with the championship.
“The Michigan Amateur is a major part of the club’s rich history, and to have it here in 2014 only adds to that enduring legacy,” he said.
The GAM, which will conduct the championship, was founded in 1919 as the governing body for amateur golf in the state. As a not-for-profit organization, the GAM’s purpose is to represent, promote, preserve and serve the best interests of the game. The GAM provides membership to more than 60,000 golfers and more than 400 golf courses while conducting 19 amateur championships and 14 United States Golf Association (USGA) qualifying events.