Ypsilanti’s Vibhav Alokam, Canton’s Bridget Boczar Claim GAM Junior Kickoff Wins
YPSILANTI – Bridget Boczar of Canton and Vibhav Alokam of Ypsilanti each managed to shoot even-par rounds of 72 in whipping winds and emerged as champions in the fourth GAM Junior Kickoff Championship Sunday at Washtenaw Golf Club.
Boczar, 18 and headed to Oakland University for college golf in the fall, finished at 5-over 149 to top the girls. Defending champion Sophie Stevens of Highland shot a final 73 for 151. Grace Boczar, Bridget’s twin sister who has also signed with Oakland U., shot 75 for 152 and third place.
“I’m excited, especially since it’s the last time I could play in this tournament,” said Bridget, who won her first GAM tournament title. “The ultimate goal is to win, but I don’t always expect that. I do expect to improve every single season, and I’m proud that I’ve done that in this tournament the last three years. I’ve had better scores each time.”
Alokam, an Ann Arbor Skyline student, finished at 4-over 148 for the two days, and topped his high school teammate Mitchell Strickland of Ann Arbor, who closed with a 75 for 151. Julian Menser of South Lyon was third with a closing 74 for 152.
“I’m super excited,” said Alokam, who is 15 but opted to play in the older overall division. “I mean, hopefully it’s one of many more to come. It was tough out there today in the wind, but I putted better than the first round. I had three 3-putts in the first round, but today I made some good seven-footers.”
Alokam said he realized he was tied for the lead going to the 13th hole, a par 5 where he made one of his four birdies in the final round.
“I knew that gave me the lead and then it just started to increase from there,” he said. “I birdied 17 and that kept me up. I’ve been playing steady this spring. I won a high school tournament and I play (at Washtenaw) a lot. I think that gave me an advantage this weekend, too.”
Bridget, who was the Division 1 state high school champion for Plymouth High in October and later named Michigan’s Miss Golf, said a key par save on the par 3 No. 12 hole kept her round together.
“I was able to keep it at one-over (par) there and I feel like if I made a bogey there if would have been harder to get it back,” she said.
A birdie at 13 put her back at even-par and she said she played well on the final four holes each round.
“Those are hard holes and I didn’t hit super great shots like at 15,” she said. “I didn’t have a great drive and I was in the lip of a bunker so I was able to scramble the last few holes and keep it together.”
Li and Masih Top 15 and Under Age Group In 2022 GAM Junior Kickoff
Champions were also determined in the 15-and-under age group competition. Alena Li, who won the 15-and-under title in the season-closing GAM Junior Invitational last year, started this year beating the girls in her age group once again. Ian Masih of Okemos topped the boys.
Li, who plans to compete in the older age divisions at times this summer, shot 76 for 149 to top the younger girls. Alayna Friedt of Grand Blanc shot 75 for 152 for second, and KT Leinwand of Portage shot 85 for 159 and third place.
“It was like a confidence booster to win this tournament,” Li said. “I’ve worked this winter on hitting the ball farther and this year I’m hitting it quite a bit farther and that’s a big advantage.”
Masih shot a final 79 for 157, one shot better than Troy Nguyen of Macomb, who closed with an 84. Aaroosh Patil of Okemos, who shot 83, and Brian Tilman of Chelsea, who shot 84, tied for third at 160.
“It feels good because I haven’t played that well in a while,” said Masih, who was home-schooled and spent a semester in Florida working on his game and competing. “I struggled in Florida. It’s a different game, but it helped me a lot down there. It was tough playing today, but I hit a lot of greens and my lag putting went pretty well.”