DeWitt’s Nate Clark Survives Playoff, Wins 39th GAM Mid-Amateur Championship
HARBOR SPRINGS – Apparently DeWitt’s Nate Clark felt the weight of his best finishes being seconds in significant Golf Association of Michigan tournaments.
“It means a ton,” he said of winning the 39th GAM Mid-Amateur Championship on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with John Quigley of Sterling Heights Thursday on the Moor course at Boyne Highlands Resort.
“I’ve been playing in GAM stuff since I was 16 or 17 and to sort of finally break through and win one is awesome,” he said. “I’ve had a two seconds here (in the Mid-Am) and a second in the GAM Championship at least once. I’ve been in the final group a few times like today, the semifinals of the (Michigan Amateur), a few Sweet 16s, and to finally break through and do it, feels great.”
Clark, a 42-year-old financial advisor shot a closing 1-under 70, overcoming a double-bogey on the third hole to finish with a 4-under 139 tournament total.
Quigley, 37 and the 2017 Mid-Amateur champion, birdied the par 5 No. 18 hole for a final 68 and 139 to force the playoff.
Both players birdied No. 18 as the first hole of the playoff, and then went to No. 10, a par 4 where multiple penalty areas await. Clark hit his tee shot left into a high-grass penalty area but was able to punch out to the fairway and hit an approach shot on the green where he two-putted from about 25 feet for bogey.
Meanwhile Quigley hit his tee shot in the left rough with a large pine tree looming in front of him. His approach shot clipped a branch and the ball ended up in the wetland penalty area in front of the green. He dropped, hit an approach on the green and two-putted from about 25 feet for a double-bogey.
“I was just kind of making a lot of pars all through front nine, but I made some birdies on the back nine to get in the playoff,” Quigley said. “I was super pleased to have a chance to win. (Nate) and I were in the last group in 2017, the year that I won. So as much as I would have loved to win it again, it was great to see him win this year. That last hole didn’t go my way this time, but maybe it will another time.”
Clark thought his escaping the penalty area with a punch-out before Quigley hit his second shot was important.
“I got it out with a good spot to go at the flag and that kind of forced his hand to try and get it on the green because that tree was in the way,” he said. “He just clipped one branch. It was a tough break for him.”
David Praet of Lake Orion, who shot 71, and 2018 champion Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills, who shot 72, tied for third at 142. Brad Bastion of Shelby Township, who shot 71 for 143 rounded out the top five.
Boyne Highlands hosted the championship for Michigan male amateur golfers over age 25 for the 20th consecutive year and 24th time in the history of the championship that honors the winner with the Glenn H. Johnson Trophy.
Champions were also crowned in three additional age categories.
The Mid-Seniors winner (age 45-and-over) was Jud Kotas of Grosse Pointe Farms, who shot 75 for 145 and his second Mid-Senior title. Rick Crandall of Fenton shot a final 68 for 148 and second in the age group.
The Senior title for golfers over age 55, and the Super Seniors over 65, were determined with the final round on the Heather course.
David Levan of Ann Arbor, who won the GAM Senior Match Play Championship in May, won the Senior title on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff with Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Randy Lewis of Alma. Levan hit an approach shot on No. 10 to three feet for birdie and the win after the two golfers matched pars on the first two playoff holes. Levan shot 77 for 147 in regulation, and Lewis rallied with a 73 for 147 to force the playoff.
Mike Raymond of Jackson shot a final 75 for 147 to win the Super Senior title. Jim Hegarty of Grand Rapids, who shot 74, and Larry Vaughan of Greensboro, who shot 77, tied for second.