Highland’s Sophie Stevens, Lake Orion’s Justin Sui Win GAM Junior Invitational Titles
EAST LANSING – Sophie Stevens of Highland, 13, and Justin Sui of Lake Orion, 14, could have played in the 15-and-under age group, but tested themselves against the older and best golfers in the 7th GAM Junior Invitational presented by Pepsi.
They passed the test – winning the overall titles in the season-ending championship hosted by Forest Akers West Golf Course at Michigan State University.
Sui shot a closing 3-under 69 for 141 to take boys’ title by one shot over Tyler Eedy of West Branch, who shot 72 for 142.
Stevens shot a closing 71 for 147 to take the girls’ title by one shot over Shannon Kennedy of Beverly Hills, who shot 75 for 148.
In the 15-and-under age division, Ryan O’Rourke of West Bloomfield shot a 5-under 67 for 139 and the win. It was his second big win of the GAM season. He was also the 15-and-under winner at the Michigan Junior State Amateur.
The 15-and-under girls’ title went to Lauren Timpf of Macomb, who shot a second consecutive 75 for 150.
Stevens, who hit 15 greens in regulation, said she felt proud about testing herself against the older golfers, and called the win awesome.
“It’s awesome to win this because it is an invitational so all the best players from the whole year get to come here,” Stevens said. “It’s great just to get to come, and to win just makes it even better.”
A double-bogey on the 13th hole threatened to derail her round, but the home-schooled Stevens said she played well coming in.
“I made a lot of mid-range putts, like 15-footers,” she said. “That was really the key. After the double-bogey, I played good coming in. I’m pretty good about keeping my cool and pulling myself together.”
Stevens, who also won the GAM Junior Kickoff to start the 2019 golf season, took home a trophy for the second consecutive year. She was the 15-and-under girls’ winner a year ago.
Sui, meanwhile, took home a trophy for the third consecutive year as the boys’ overall champion. He previously won the 15-and-under title in 2016 and ‘17.
“Winning the big one is really great because of the competition,” said the young senior at Lake Orion High School. “All the top players in Michigan play in it. It’s kind of like the Michigan Junior Am, but stroke play. It feels great to win it.”
Sui, the runner-up in this summer’s GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship, said a birdie on hole 17 was probably the key shot of the day.
“I hit it from over the cart path to about three feet and made birdie, and that gave me a two-shot lead at the time,” he said.
He said his putting, as usual, was important for him.
“That’s probably the best part of my game,” he said. “I putted really well, and my playing partners were great. We all were relaxed, talking and it was friendly competition.”
Jack Zubkus of Ada, the first-round leader, was third behind Sui and Eedy with a 74 for 143.
Elise Fennell of Kentwood shot a 74 for 151 to take third in the overall girls’ competition behind Stevens and Kennedy.
Ieuan Jones of Ann Arbor, the defending champion in the boys’ 15-and-under, finished second this time in the age group with a 74 for 150. Bryce Wheeler of Augusta was third with a 73 for 151.
Kit Schaefer of Mattawan finished second among the 15-and-under girls. She shot 77 for 151. Kristen Reed of Carleton was third with a 78 for 152.
A field of 82 of the state’s top junior golfers played 36 holes of stroke play over the two days to determine the winners. The players were invited by the GAM based on performances in a variety of state and national competitions in the last year.
RESULTS: Available on the championship page at gam.org
via Greg Johnson