Medalist Jack Weller of Swartz Creek is Top Seed for Match Play at 105th Michigan Amateur
BATH – Jack Weller, a Ferris State University golfer from Swartz Creek, caught fire on his final nine holes, closed with four consecutive birdies in a 5-under 67 and earned medalist honors in the stroke play portion of the 105th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Eagle Eye Golf Club Wednesday.
That will make Weller the No. 1 seed in a 7:30 a.m. Thursday match for the bracket of 64 golfers who will compete head-to-head for the state championship through Saturday.
Weller, 19, last summer’s Flint City Amateur, part of a state champion high school team at Swartz Creek and a Flint Junior Golf Association member starting at age 6, posted a 5-under 139 for the two rounds of stroke play.
He won by one shot over 51-year-old assets manager Ken Hudson of Bloomfield Hills, who shot 72 for 140, and Bay City native and 22-year-old Cleary University golfer Devin Young, who shot 70 for 140.
Andrew Chapman of Traverse City, the 2013 champion who shot 71, Nathan Clark of Charlotte, who shot 72, Austin Eccleton of Jackson, who shot 73, and Nick Gunthorpe of Ovid, who shot 71, all finished at 141.
Nine golfers tied at 152 played off for the final two spots in the field. Taking spot 63 was Joe Hooks of Commerce Township, and spot 64 went to Michael Cooper, a Davenport University golfer from Rockford, who will meet Weller in the first match.
“I played the back nine first and shot even (par) on what in my opinion is the toughest nine, and then I birdied one and got it rolling on six and birdied the last four holes,” Weller said of his 31 on the front nine to finish. “I was just rolling the ball really good on great greens. The first four birdies were probably on putts of an average of 10 feet, and then at the ninth hole I had a tap in.”
Weller, who finished second in a recent NCAA regional and is a sports marketing and business major heading toward his junior year at Ferris, said he enters every tournament trying to win.
“It definitely feels good to be medalist,” he said after accepting the Chuck Kocsis Trophy that goes to the qualifying medalist.
Hudson, a quarterfinalist two years ago, was disappointed not to be medalist.
“I wanted to be medalist,” he said. “It was the first time I ever had a chance to be medalist, and it might be the last time I ever have the chance. Probably had that pressure get to me on the last hole and three-putted after hitting a good shot in there.”
Young, who went to Bay City Western High School and currently lives in Howell near school, is coming off a season in which his Cleary team won the United States Collegiate Golf Association national title, and he was the individual national champion and a USCG All-American for the second consecutive year.
“This is the first time I’ve played in a GAM event, and I’m just out here trying to prove myself,” he said. “I made All-American at Delta Community College (Saginaw) and then the last two years with Cleary.”
As usual the playoff for the final spots added some late drama. Cooper, Hooks and Steve Nichols of Lansing each made birdies on the first sudden-death hole (No. 18), matched pars on the second playoff hole (No. 9) and Hooks and Nichols settled things with pars on the third playoff hole (No. 18).
“I came with no expectations really because I’ve been away at my brother’s wedding and haven’t played much golf,” said Cooper, who is 19 and will be a sophomore at Davenport in the fall. “I wanted to make match play. I had a chip on my shoulder because I four-putted 18 for bogey (in regulation play) and was mad at myself. I felt like I should have been in there. I’m lucky I got a chance to make up for it.”
The 64-golfer bracket can be found at www.gam.org with match starting times. The round of 64 and 32 will be played Thursday to determine the prestigious Sweet 16.
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 as well as nine full-time staff, provides membership to more than 55,000 golfers and more than 470 Michigan golf courses, conducts over 30 amateur championships, oversees 15 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