Grosse Ile’s Gregg Bonamici Wins GAM Senior Championship in Playoff
CHARLEVOIX – Gregg Bonamici of Grosse Ile made a 25-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole and won the 34th GAM Senior Championship presented by Sullivan Golf Travel Tuesday at Belvedere Golf Club.
The 62-year-old Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club member turned back John Barbour of Grand Rapids in the sudden-death playoff. Bonamici had closed with a 1-under 71 in regulation play for 145, and Barbour shot a final 73 to force the playoff.
Due to fading light conditions the twosome played the par 5 No. 9 hole twice in the playoff. They each made bogey 6 the first time they played it, and then Bonamici made his long putt and Barbour missed a 15-foot birdie attempt.
Defending champion Steve Maddalena of Jackson missed a five-foot par putt on No. 18 in regulation to shoot 72 and just miss the playoff at 146. Gary Rymiszewski of Oxford also shot 72 for 146.
Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid shot a final 74 for 147 to round out the top five.
A champion was also determined in the Super Senior Division. Rick Herpich won his second Super Senior title of the summer with a closing 79 for 149.
Three golfers finished second at 153 among the over age 65 set – Ron Perrine of Holt, John Armstrong of Grosse Ile, and Terry Westbrook of Grand Rapids. Defending Super Senior champion Mark Ochsankehl of Caledonia shot 78 for 154, as did Bay City’s Roy Schultheiss.
“It’s my first GAM title, and after 62 years, so it feels awesome,” Bonamici said after the playoff that finished as the sun was setting. “I really enjoyed my two days here at Belvedere. It’s a great golf course. Today we certainly had challenges with the 30 mile per hour winds. It was hard, hard, hard, but fortunately worked out for me.”
Bonamici said he had a great read on the winning putt in the playoff, but he wasn’t especially confident after missing a two-foot putt for his 6 the first time around in the playoff.
“I had no idea I was going to make it, and I was pretty shocked it went in,” he said. “It went in a little bit swift, too. I feel fortunate, very fortunate.”
Bonamici said the last thing he won was the Senior Club Championship at Grosse Ile about five years ago.
“Winning this is great, and yesterday was my birthday,” he said. “We all grew up playing here at Belvedere in the Michigan Amateur all those years, so having an opportunity to spend two days playing this great course was enough. Certainly winning is icing on the cake.”
Bonamici made three consecutive pars on the closing holes in regulation – Nos. 16, 17 and 18 – where others chasing his posted score faltered.
“I hit three really good second shots on all three of them and almost birdied all three of them,” he said. “Easy pars. I think that is what got me in the playoffs.”
Bonamici said being paired with Mitch Wilson of Portage in the final round was inspiring.
“He was my college golf teammate (Central Michigan University) and he’s accomplished so much and won everything,” he said. “I set out to try and play my best to impress him because I haven’t seen him for 40 years. I think I did it.”
Super Senior winner Herpich said playing in the wind made his closing 79 fell like a 1-under score.
“The putting is already so hard on these greens with the undulations, and then you add the wind and it was just so difficult,” he said. “I just had to grind it out. I feel pretty good that I did that. This is my second win of the year (GAM Super Senior Championship) and this is great way to cap off the year for me.”
Herpich, 67, also won the GAM Senior Championship’s Super Senior Division for the second time. He won the same division two years ago at Battle Creek Country Club.
via Greg Johnson