Foursome Headed to Final Day of the 107th Michigan Amateur Championship
by Greg Johnson
GROSSE POINTE WOODS – Beau Breault of Hartland, Josh Gibson of Grandville, Anthony Sorentino of Shelby Township and Ben Smith of Novi are the semifinalists in the 107th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
The foursome survived two rounds of matches Friday at Country Club of Detroit, and will meet Saturday morning to determine the finalists for Saturday afternoon’s championship match. Breault meets Gibson at 8 a.m., and Sorentino plays Smith at 8:15. The championship match should start around 1 p.m.
Breault, an Eastern Michigan University golfer who was runner-up last year, beat John Quigley of St. Clair Shores 3 and 2 in the round of 16, and then earned his semifinal spot by surviving a 19-hole match with Bowling Green State University golfer Max Rispler of Grand Rapids in the round of 8.
“(Rispler) got up and down from everywhere and he hit probably the best bunker shot I’ve ever seen on 17, and then he made a 15-foot slider on 18,” Breault said. “He played awesome and we had a great battle.”
Breault said it was a long, tough day just like it was a year ago in getting to the finals.
“I had to grind some today against two good players,” he said. “My body wasn’t cooperating with my mind early, but I came out of it. I’m ready for tomorrow. I’ll be here ready to grind some more.”
Gibson, a Hope College golfer who was recently named the NCAA Division III Player of the Year, topped Michigan State golfer Charlie Green of Ann Arbor 5 and 4 in the round of 16, and then took out last week’s Michigan Open champion, Jake Kneen of White Lake, 5 and 4 as well.
“I played well and had some good results,” he said. “Honestly, this spring I struggled a little bit, but I haven’t played in a tournament in a while and I’ve been practicing a lot. I was thinking my game would be in pretty good shape this week, and I wanted my game ready for this one.”
Gibson is making a match play run in the Michigan Amateur for the first time, and is in the final four for the first time.
“It’s awesome to have a chance to win this,” he said. “I’ve struggled in this tournament in the past, and it’s the biggest tournament in the state for amateurs. To win it would be awesome.”
Sorentino, a 40-year-old attorney who has won three GAM Mid-Amateur titles, beat Michigan State golfer Zach Rosendale 1-up in the morning, and then topped Wayne State golfer Kyle Rybicki of White Lake 3 and 1 in the round of 8.
“I have played all college kids so far, and they are all great, hit it way past me and I’ve been down in every single match,” he said. “But the tough pins have helped me I think. I’ve made some good shots and most of all some timely shots and had a little bit of luck. That’s what it takes.”
Sorentino, in the final four for the first time, said he will guard against fatigue.
“The old man will get some rest and get ready,” he said. “I will try to keep the train rolling.”
Smith, 19 a Georgia Tech golfer and the winner of the last two Michigan Junior Amateur Championships, battled 2015 champion Ryan Johnson of New Boston to win in 19 holes, and then topped David Hall of Birmingham 5 and 4 in the quarterfinals.
“In my first match I didn’t play so hot and had to grind it out, but then in the second match I got it rolling and started hitting some good shots,” he said. “I was fortunate. Things worked out for me today.”
Smith said he wasn’t nervous and feels prepared to play for the title.
“I’m excited to play tomorrow,” he said. “This is the premier event in the state, and a lot of my coaches are following down south. I haven’t won anything in a while, so it would be great to come up with something like this.”
THE FINAL FOUR
Beau Breault, 21, Hartland, Eastern Michigan University golfer
Josh Gibson, 21, Grandville, Hope College golfer
Anthony Sorentino, 40, Shelby Township, Attorney
Ben Smith, 19, Novi, Georgia Institute of Technology golfer
RESULTS: Match play bracket available at gam.org