Final Four Set in 106th Michigan Amateur Championship at Egypt Valley
ADA TOWNSHIP – A chief operating officer, a salesman, a college golfer and a financial planner ranging in age from 49 to 20 make up the final four golfers in the 106th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Egypt Valley Country Club.
Casey Baker of Ann Arbor, 39 and COO at sponsoring Carl’s Golfland, will meet Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, a 49-year-old marketing salesman in the first semifinal at 8 a.m. Friday.
Beau Breault of Hartland, 20 and an Eastern Michigan University golfer, will play Brett Hudson of Bloomfield Hills, a 32-year-old financial planner in the other semifinal at 8:15.
The winners will meet an hour after the semifinal matches finish for the championship.
Baker, a two-time GAM Champion, turned back Wayne State medical school student and former Michigan State golfer Carson Castellani of Okemos 2 and 1 in the round of 16, and then finally stopped the surprising run of No. 64 seed Cameron Carroll of East Lansing 4 and 2.
“I’m 39-years-old and to be playing as well as I am at this age without playing much golf this spring is great,” he said. “I have three young kids, ages 7, 5 and 2. Life is busy. It’s great to be here. There are not too many things you can do at my age to get the nerves and competitive juices going like this. This is exciting.”
Baker, a Barton Hills Country Club member in the final four of an Amateur for the second time, got up early in his match with Carroll and kept the pressure on. Carroll, a recent high school graduate who survived a 10-golfer playoff for the final spot in the match play field, had his run come to an end when he three-putted the No. 16 hole.
“He was a nice kid and I can’t believe he’s not planning on playing college golf,” Baker said. “I had two good matches today, and I hit it well all day and really putted well in my morning match. I feel comfortable. We’ll just keep hitting one shot at time and see what happens.”
Werkmeister, the 2009 Michigan Amateur champion and 2012 runner-up, topped Josh Dirlam of Spring Arbor, a Lawrence Tech golfer, 4 and 3 in the round of 16, and then held off Ken Hudson of Bloomfield Hills 2 and 1 with a highlight 240-yard hybrid second shot to eight feet on the par 5 No. 17 hole to close out the match.
“That was a career hybrid,” he said. “I’m not that long. It was downwind and just one of the best hybrid shots I’ve ever hit. I needed it. Kenny is a bulldog, a tough opponent. He made some big par putts and stayed in the match.”
Werkmeister is in the final four for the third time, and called it a great accomplishment.
“It’s just so hard because of so much golf and match play, and you never know what the other guy is going to do,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of experience in those moments, and I felt like I used that today to close out the matches.”
Breault, a former GAM Junior Invitational champion, topped Andrew Tindall of Chelsea 2 and 1 in the round of 16, and then toppled former Michigan Amateur champion (2001) Andy Matthews of Ada 3 and 2. He did it without making a bogey in either match.
“My short game was the key to my success today,” he said. “I didn’t give any strokes away. I made the other guys earn everything, and even when I missed a green I was really confident I was going to get up and down.”
Breault had never made match play before in a GAM match play event.
“That was my first goal of the week, and then anything can happen in match play and I just tried to take it day by day,” he said. “I really think I love the format. This tournament is awesome. I’m really happy to win. I’m exhausted, but I’m really happy.”
Hudson, in the final four for the first time, said he was tired but excited after he topped Robert Morris University golfer David Szymanski 3 and 2, and then toppled the defending champion, Michigan State golfer and Egypt Valley employee Sam Weatherhead 3 and 2.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “A lot of hard work and a lot of bad tournaments I’ve learned from have put me here. It feels great. It makes me feel like I belong out here again. I had some doubts earlier this year about my game, but I got it together and it feels great.”
Hudson had an early 3-up lead against Weatherhead, but the Spartan closed the gap to 1-up repeatedly.
“I finally made great pars at 14 and 15 that held him off,” he said. “Sam is such a great player, but what I think got him was my short game. I chipped the ball really well, and I putted great today, the best I putted all week.”
He said he was headed to rest for the semifinals.
“I’ve never felt this level of adrenalin before, but it was good adrenalin,” he said. “It’s a long two days, mentally challenging. I’m all good, and so honored to be still here fighting for it. It means a lot to me.”
THE FINAL FOUR
Casey Baker, 39, Ann Arbor, chief operating officer Carl’s Golfland
Tom Werkmeister, 49, Grandville, marketing salesman
Beau Breault, 20, Hartland, Eastern Michigan University golfer
Brett Hudson, 32, Bloomfield Hills, financial planner
Results/bracket: Find it at gam.org
About the GAM: Founded in 1919, the Golf Association of Michigan is the governing body for amateur golf in the state. As a not-for-profit organization, the GAM’s purpose is to promote, preserve and serve the game of golf. The GAM, served by over 250 dedicated volunteers, provides membership to more than 55,000 golfers and more than 470 Michigan golf courses, conducts over 30 amateur championships, oversees 18 USGA qualifying events, administers the GAM/USGA Handicap System and measures and rates almost 70 courses a year for the USGA. Learn more at www.gam.org.
via Greg Johnson