Maddalena Wins 2019 GAM Senior Championship
Steve Maddalena of Jackson Birdies First Playoff Hole, Wins GAM Senior Championship
LANSING – Steve Maddalena of Jackson birdied the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with LaRay Anderson of Novi and added a GAM Senior Championship to his Michigan Golf Hall of Fame resume Tuesday at Country Club of Lansing.
“It feels nice to win,” he said after hitting an 8-iron shot to four-feet and making the putt on No. 18, the first playoff hole for the 2019 GAM Senior Championship presented by Sullivan Golf Travel.
“I wanted to win this one. I kind of had this one on my radar. It means I beat everybody in my age group. That’s why it feels nice.”
The 59-year-old Maddalena, who is a three-time Michigan Amateur champion (1980, ’90 and ’95) a past GAM champion (1989), GAM Senior Match Play winner (2016) and a few weeks ago won the senior division in the GAM Mid-Amateur, shot a closing 2-under 70 for 5-under 139.
Anderson matched him with the same scores of 69 and 70 for the two days.
Maddalena hit his tee shot in the right rough in the playoff but had an open shot similar to the one he had on 18 during regulation play. Anderson hit his tee shot wide left into a stand of trees, had to punch a low shot up the hill toward the green and played to bogey. It left Maddalena with a four-foot putt he only needed to get down in two but made for birdie.
“I figured if I shot 2-under I would have a chance, and that 3-under would win it outright,” Maddalena said. “I was disappointed when I left my birdie putt short on 18 the first time I around, but I made up for it in the playoff.”
Ray Emsley of Davisburg shot 74 after his 67 from Monday for 141 and third place. Four golfers tied at 142, including Bob Carson of Auburn Hills who closed with a 75, Leo Daigle of Wixom, who shot 70, John Barbour of Grand Rapids, who shot 70 and Jim Lewis of Novi, who shot 72. David Bartnick of Livonia, the defending champion, shot 73 for 143.
In the Super Senior division for golfers over age 65, Mark Ochsankehl of Caledonia avoided a playoff with a key birdie on No. 17 to win that title by one shot. He fired a closing 71 for 142, which topped Terry Westbrook of Grand Rapids, who shot a closing 72 for 143.
Rick Herpich of Orchard Lake, who rallied with a 67, finished third at 144, and next at 145 was Terry Moore of Grand Rapids, who shot 73, and Pete Walz of Jackson, who shot 75.
Maddalena bested a field of 156 golfers, 100 playing for the Senior title for golfers age 55-and-over, and 56 playing in the Super Senior division for golfers 65-and-over.
He said he started his final round with a bogey.
“I turned it around right away though and made four birdies on the front coming in,” he said. “Then I hit it pretty good on the back, too, but I struggled with a few putts. It was getting hard to putt late in the day. It was a little tracked close to the hole. I knew it was the same for everybody so I just dealt with it. I would always rather have a late tee time (with the leaders) and deal with the issues than to play early and have it mean nothing.”
Anderson, 56, was pleased with his play considering health issues have kept him from playing a lot this summer. Second is his highest finish ever in a GAM tournament. He lamented finishing regulation play with a bogey on No. 18, and then making another bogey in the playoff.
“I set up to hit a cut on the tee in the playoff and just yanked it left,” he said. “I didn’t have a chance where I hit it. I knew who I was playing against, too, and knew he would hit a great shot.”
In the Super Senior division, Ochsankehl, 66, said his key birdie on 17 was with a 6-iron shot to the back of the green on the par 3.
“Then I made a 25-footer going downhill, so that was a big shot,” he said. “I played two days of steady golf. I hit almost every shot good and I putted well. I did everything right for a change.”
Ochsankehl, who won a GAM tournament for the first time after three third-place finishes in GAM Championship over the years, said he has played poorly all summer until about two weeks ago.
“I switched back to my old irons and just started hitting it better,” he said. “My last set was not working. I went back to the old ones and started hitting it good.”
Maddalena Wins 2019 GAM Senior Championship via Greg Johnson