Macomb Township’s Ariel Chang, Cheboygan’s PJ Maybank, Charge to GAM Junior Kickoff Wins
YPSILANTI – Ariel Chang of Macomb Township topped the other girls in the field by eight shots and PJ Maybank III of Cheboygan beat the rest of the boys by six shots in the GAM Junior Kickoff Championship Tuesday at Washtenaw Golf Club.
A field of 153 junior golfers played in the first GAM junior tournament of the season, and champions were also determined in the 15-and-under age groups.
Griffin Mawson of Traverse City was the top 15-and-under boy, and Lauren Timpf of Macomb won the 15-and-under girls title.
The 17-year-old Chang, who fired a 1-under 71 for a 144 total, said she left a few putts out on the course, but overall felt great about her round.
“This means a lot to win this,” she said. “This is my first GAM championship. I’ve won age groups before, but this is the first championship and it was a goal. I just came out and tried to do my best. I showed up and I’m very pleased.”
Grace Boczar of Canton shot a 75 for 152, and Sophie Stevens shot 80 for 152 to tie for second among the girls. Audrey Becker of Grosse Pointe Farms rounded out the top four with a 74 for 154.
Chang said she tried not to pay attention to the scores and having a big lead during the final round.
“I did find out unintentionally and then I just told myself to stay calm and just keep putting up pars,” she said. “If a birdie comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Chang, who still has a year of high school remaining and has verbally committed to the University of Detroit Mercy women’s golf program, said the win will inspire her to practice.
“I have been practicing a lot more every day, and I’m just going to keep at it,” she said. “My scores are showing it.”
Maybank’s six shot win was his second GAM junior title and first GAM Junior Kickoff title. He was coming off a medalist performance in a recent qualifier for next week’s Michigan Amateur Championship on The Heather course at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs.
“I had a rough start with a bogey on the first hole, but then I had four birdies in a row on the front nine and that definitely helped the score,” said the 15-year-old Maybank, who shot a closing 2-under 70 for a two-day total of 141 and chose to play in the age 16-18 championship group. “I’m very happy to have won. That was definitely the goal this week.”
Jack Zubkus of Ada shot a closing 74 for 147 for second among the boys. Brockton English of Shelby Township shot 77 for 149 and third, and Ian Smith of Canton shot 75 for 150 and fourth place at the GAM Junior Kickoff.
Maybank said he was putting well on what he called difficult greens.
“They are very undulating, but I had no three-putts and that tells me a lot about my putting,” he said. “It’s a great golf course. I love it. When I’m putting good, I’m usually playing pretty good and I hope to carry it into next week.”
In the boys 15-and-under play, Robert Burns of Grand Blanc shot 76 for 150 and Will Preston of Grand Rapids shot 74 for 150 to fall just one shot short of Mawson in a tie for second place. Ieuan Jones, who closed with a 70, and Drew Miller of East Lansing, who shot 78, were next at 152.
In the girls 15-and-under, Mia Melendez of Ann Arbor shot 74 for 152 and second place by one shot to Timpf. Laura Liu of Rochester Hills shot 77 for 154, and Macie Elzinga of Byron Center shot 80 for 156 to round out the top four.