Maddalena Wins 2022 GAM Senior Match Play

Maddalena Wins 2022 GAM Senior Match Play: Steve Maddalena sends the winning 50-foot shot at No. 18 on its way.

Dramatic Putts Key Steve Maddalena’s 2022 GAM Senior Match Play Victory

   MUSKEGON – Jackson’s Steve Maddalena won the GAM Senior Match Play Championship presented by Sullivan Golf Travel with long dramatic birdie putts on the final two holes at Muskegon Country Club Friday.

   The Michigan Golf Hall of Famer tied the final match with Tom Gieselman of Commerce Township at No. 17 with a 25-foot birdie putt and then won it at No. 18 with a 50-foot shot using his putter from the fringe in front of the green.

  “It makes it a lot more fun when putts drop in,” said Maddalena, who with the 1-up win will have his name engraved on the Jerry A. Walker Memorial Trophy for the second time.

  “I figured I had to birdie 17 and 18 to have a chance and somehow it happened.”

  In the Super Senior Division, Bill Zylstra of Dearborn Heights, another Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and three-time GAM Senior Match Play champion, topped Rick Herpich 3 and 2 in that title match. Zylstra, 70, opted to compete in the Super Senior Division for golfers over age 65 for the first time.

  Maddalena, 62, said he felt confident and liked his line on the putt at 17, but at 18 was just trying to make sure he didn’t lose the hole.

  “I had a good read on 17 and that was a good putt there, but at 18 I was just trying to get it down there close, within five feet or so,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to go in.”

  Gieselman, who made a match play run in last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur at Country Club of Detroit, tied the match for fourth time of the day at the par 5 No. 14 hole by knocking it on the green in two and two-putting for birdie. He then birdied the par 3 No. 15 hole with a 10-foot putt and took a 1-up lead for the fourth time.

  The two golfers tied 16 with Gieselman making a clutch 10-foot par putt to set up the final dramatics. After Maddalena rolled in his putt at 17, Gieselman’s birdie attempt from about 24 feet on nearly the same line as Maddalena’s putt lipped out.

  At the par 5 18th both golfers hit tee shots into the left long grass heather areas, and both then hit shots from the long grass into fairway bunkers.

  Gieselman lamented his choice of a hybrid rescue club from the long grass.

  “I feel like I kind of gave it to him there,” Gieselman said.

  Maddalena said he knew he was in for a tough final match because of Gieselman’s ability to hit his driver long distances.

   “I looked at his scorecards through the week, and he was 3 or 4-under every match, holing out shots from the fairway. I was hoping to stay close. He was playing great and he hits it so far. I felt I was at a disadvantage especially when we went to the back side. As I get older, I’ve lost a bit of distance and I somehow have to wile it around the course now. It always feels good to win, and you always feel a little fortunate when you beat a great player.”

  Zylstra said credit for his revived play at age 70 this year goes to his physical therapist, Maria Roszczenko of Canton.

  “She’s really helped me move better and with flexibility, and I’ve been playing better,” he said. “I had Vertigo Monday and didn’t think I was going to play, but I felt good Tuesday and I had a good week.”

  Zylstra did it in the final with Herpich with three birdies in the first six holes to take a 3-up lead that Herpich was only able to trim to 2-up twice in the match.

  “Rick has been the best Super Senior player the last few years in Michigan so I feel fortunate to get him,” Zylstra said. “I didn’t do anything great, stayed around par, but that will work on this golf course. It’s a tough course with all kinds of great greens and booby traps out there.”

  Herpich lamented several missed putts.

  “I made everything (Thursday) but lipped out today and just couldn’t get them to fall,” he said. “And Bill is pretty tough to beat. He’s been great for a long time.”

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