Ann Arbor’s David Levan Birdies 18, Wins GAM Senior Match Play
AUGUSTA – Ann Arbor’s David Levan hit a 35-yard flop shot from the right rough to just inches from the cup on the final hole for a birdie and won the 13th GAM Senior Match Play Championship Friday at Gull Lake View Golf Resort’s Stoatin Brae course.
“I never expected to win something like this in my life,” said the 55-year-old owner of Endeavor Group who rallied from a two-down deficit to turn back Robert Matthiesen of Mason 1-up in a championship match.
“We had a very competitive match, right down to the 18th hole, and that’s all you can ask for, right? I mean, what more do you want?”
Levan, who landed in the 31 seed slot in the 32-golfer championship bracket after Monday’s stroke play round, beat defending champion Mitch Wilson of Portage in his first match on Tuesday (5 and 3), and then in the semifinals Thursday afternoon took down Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Steve Maddalena of Jackson (3 and 2).
“I’ve made match play over the years in the Michigan Amateur, but I’ve always lost in the first round,” he said. “I’ve just gotten better over the last couple of years. I attribute a lot of it to going down to Whisper Rock in Arizona, I’m a member down there, and playing with some really good players. The competition is so keen. I’ve also learned to drive the golf ball better. I wasn’t typically a good driver before.”
Matthiesen was 2-up after nine holes and didn’t make a bogey in the title match. Levan, however, birdied the par 4 12th and the par 5 16th to tie the match and set up his final flop shot on the par 5 18th.
“I was just in the rough over there and it allowed me some air under the ball so I could hit a flop shot,” Levan said. “I was fortunate to get it close and win a tough match. (Matthiesen) is such a quality guy. It was exciting.”
Matthiesen, who is 58 and owns Pop-Ity Popcorn Co., in Lansing, earned the top seed as Monday’s stroke play medalist and then had to go 20 holes to win his first-round match with Mark Ronan. He also had to go 20 holes to turn back Ken Hudson of Bloomfield Hills in the semifinals.
He said he played great golf through the week and had little to be disappointed about.
“(Levan) hit some great shots on the back and he beat me on 18,” he said. “I didn’t give anything away. My shot into 18 was really close to being great. It just didn’t work out. He hit the key shots and made some big putts, more than I did today. It’s hard to feel bad because I really had a great week of golf.”
In the Super Senior Division final, Larry Vaughan, a 65-year-old Detroit native who returns home from his North Carolina residence to compete in GAM tournaments each summer, capped the week by making it a sweep of first-time GAM winners when he topped Jackson’s Pete Walz 3 and 2 in that final.
“I just stood in the parking lot for a few minutes and cried,” Vaughan said. “I started playing junior golf with a lot of these guys when I was 13, over 50 years ago, and to finally beat them just feels great. I’ve been waiting a long time to do this, played in a lot of tournaments. It was finally my week.”
Vaughan, a retired software executive, earned medalist honors and the top seed in the 16-golfer Super Senior bracket on Monday and survived a series of close matches. He beat Craig Camalo of Ann Arbor 2 and 1 in Thursday’s semifinal to get his slot in the finals.
Walz, meanwhile, was a 10-seed who topped Terry Moore of Grand Rapids, 3 and 2,in the semifinals. He lost two balls, one on No. 13 and again on No. 16, in the final match with Vaughan.
“Pete is a crafty veteran and he was tough to shake,” Vaughan said. “I was fortunate to make every putt that I really need to make, and I did that all week. I was never behind today. When I needed to make a putt to keep the lead, I made it.”
via Greg Johnson