107th Michigan Amateur : Andrew Walker Sets Pace
Hot Putter Helps Michigan State’s Andrew Walker Set Pace at 107th Michigan Amateur
by Greg Johnson
GROSSE POINTE FARMS – Andrew Walker of Battle Creek felt like his sophomore year on the Michigan State University golf team was one of missed opportunities.
“So, I’m happy to see this,” he said after shooting a 6-under 65 Tuesday at Country Club of Detroit to lead through the first round of the 107th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Walker and the rest of the field of 156 golfers play a second round of stroke play today to determine the low 64 who move on to match play Thursday through Saturday. The medalist of the qualifying stroke play will also receive the Chuck Kocsis Trophy.
Walker, a 19-year-old former AJGA All-American, topped the afternoon wave of tee times.
Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor, a 20-year-old sophomore-to-be at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., topped the morning wave with a 68 and was standing second alone at the end of the day.
Three golfers shot 69, including last year’s GAM Mid-Amateur champion John Quigley of St. Clair Shores, Michigan State assistant golf coach Dan Ellis of Lansing, and Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith of Novi, the winner of the last two Michigan Junior Amateur titles.
University of Michigan club team golfer Ian Martin of Saline, Birmingham Seaholm High School golfer Jack Muir of Birmingham, and Mitchell White of Muskegon and Grand Valley State’s golf team shot 70.
Jake Kneen of White Lake, the recent Oakland University graduate who won last week’s Michigan Open Championship, was in a big group at even-par 71.
Walker, who tied for fourth in last week’s Michigan Open, said he is having the start to the summer he wanted.
“In planning and looking at the summer one of the goals of the summer is to come out on top in this tournament,” he said. “Being in Michigan, and it’s your state Am, it means a lot to me. I’m glad I’ve put myself in a good position on day one. Now I go out, stick to my game plan and take care of business.”
His business was especially good on the greens in the first round where a hot putter helped him to eight birdies against two bogeys. He said a trio of made 30-footers for birdies on Nos. 1, 13 and 16 keyed the scoring.
“I hit a lot of greens and hit a few close shots, but my putter was the main tool of my trade today,” he said. “There were some really tough pin placements out there, but I did a good job of weighing when to be aggressive and when to be safe.”
Copp is competing in his first Michigan Amateur with a little bit of chip on his shoulder.
“I kept missing in (sectional) qualifiers by one or two shots with 73s or 74s, and I finally got through this year,” he said. “I want to make the best of it.”
Copp, 20, said the main goal is to make match play. He has played the match play format in one tournament before this week. It was last February and Mercer played in a match-play event, ironically against his hometown school – the University of Michigan. Michigan won, but Copp was one of two players who won their matches for Mercer.
“I’m a huge Michigan fan, too,” he said.
Copp, who played just two years of golf at Ann Arbor Skyline High School and took a year off from golf before heading to Mercer to play, said it wasn’t his best round of golf Tuesday in terms of ball-striking. He was 4-under through seven holes, made three bogeys in the next eight holes and then finished with two birdies and a sand save in the final three holes. His birdie at the par 3 No. 16 hole was with a 5-iron tee shot from 198 yards to four-feet.
“I hit a great shot there, but really I just putted really well,” he said. “The course fits me. You have to play strategic golf and put yourself below the hole and make some putts. That’s what I did.”
SCORING: Complete results can be found at gam.org, as well as tee times and live scoring for Wednesday.