Age Group Champions from Dexter, Okemos, East Lansing and Brighton
EAST LANSING – Cameron Cowland of Dexter and Allison Cui of Okemos had the best back-to-back tournament rounds of their young golf careers and turned them into titles at the 9th GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship presented by Pepsi at Forest Akers East Golf Course Thursday and Friday.
The 15-year-old Cowland, who will be a sophomore in the fall at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, shot a closing 4-under 67 to go with a personal-best 65 from the first round for a 10-under 132 total to win the boys 13-15 age group title. He won by two shots over Alek Mauro of Windsor, who charged in the final round with a 65 for 134.
“I didn’t get off to a great start, but I made pars and then holed out for (eagle-2) on (hole) 9, and that was really big,” Cowland said. “It had 90 yards left and hit a light 58-degree (wedge). I didn’t see it go in. The flag was in the dip on the green. I got up there and couldn’t find my ball until I looked in the cup.”
Cui, 13 and a Chippewa Middle School student, shot a personal best 70 in the first round and added a 72 Friday for even-par 142 and the girls 13-15 age group title. She held off Anci Dy of Traverse City, who shot a closing 71 for 145.
“I think I just really had my game going,” she said. “My drive was pretty straight both days and my putting was better than usual. I also had a lot of greens in regulation. I had two very good days, set personal bests, so I’m very happy about that.”
Titles were also decided in boys and girls competition of age 12-and-under. They played nine-hole rounds each day for 18 holes total in the tournament.
The boy’s 12-and-under winner was Drew Miller of East Lansing, an 11-year-old McDonald Middle School student, and the girl’s winner was Abbie Pietila of Brighton, also 11 and home-schooled.
Miller’s rounds of 36 and 37 for 73 was one shot better than two golfers – Ryo Ito of West Bloomfield, who shot 36 to close, and Ryan O’Rourke of West Bloomfield, who shot 35.
Pietila, the fifth and final Pietila sister to play in multiple GAM tournaments, shot 44 for 93. Lily Bargamian of Grosse Ile, who shot 46, was second with a 95.
Cowland, who played on the varsity team as a freshman last year at Skyline and last summer was a Golfweek Tour Player of the Year with six wins, said he hit his wedges close both days.
“You have to hit it straight, and then with good wedges you give yourself a lot of birdie chances,” he said. “I did that. Alek shot 31 on the front and was tied with me after No. 7. Holing out at 9 got me back in the lead and I played solid on the back.”
Brockton English of Shelby Township and Justin Sui of Lake Orion tied for third behind Cowland and Mauro. Brockton shot 69 for 140, and Sui shot 72.
Cui said she was nervous to start the day, and knew she would have to hold off Dy, who earlier this summer reached the quarterfinals of the Michigan Women’s Amateur.
“I just kept trying to go with the feel and keep my mojo I guess,” she said. “It was fun. I didn’t have any double-bogeys in the tournament so that really helped.”
Bridget Boczar of Canton finished third in the girls 13-15 with an 80 for 154, and Savannah Haque shot 71 for 156 to finish fourth.
COMPLETE RESULTS: Available at gam.org under the Championships tab.
PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Contact Greg Johnson at 616-560-8995 or firstname.lastname@example.org