Jackson’s Steve Maddalena Wins 35th GAM Senior Championship
ANN ARBOR – Jackson’s Steve Maddalena didn’t miss a green in regulation and held off his playing partners to win the 35th GAM Senior Championship Wednesday at Barton Hills Country Club.
“I played pretty solid except for two three-putt bogeys and felt really good with what I was doing tee to green,” he said after shooting a closing 3-under 68 for a 5-under 137 tournament total and three-shot win. “I love this golf course. I could play here every day and never get tired of it.
Mitch Wilson of Portage and fellow Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Randy Lewis of Alma, who played in the same group with Maddalena, tied for second. Wilson shot 70 and Lewis 71 for 140.
Leo Daigle Wixom, who shot 71, and recent U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid, who shot 70 rounded out the top five at 141.
It was the second GAM Senior Championship win for the 61-year-old Maddalena, who also won in 2019, and he was coming off a prestigious invitational win last Friday in the Senior Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club near Buffalo, N.Y. It was his second big national win of the year. He also won the Trans-Mississippi Senior in May.
“I’ve been playing pretty good and after winning last week and knowing we were playing here, I felt good about it,” Maddalena said. “I’ve been close in a couple of the other (GAM senior tournaments) this summer, so it was nice to get over the hump and win this one.”
Maddalena, a three-time Michigan Amateur champion ranked as the No. 22 senior in the country by Amateurgolf.com, said the critical stretch was consecutive birdies at Nos. 9 and 10. He made a 40-foot putt on No. 9 for birdie and after his chip came up short after hitting another ball on the green.
“It was a stupid move not to have him mark his ball, then it goes in from a long way and I birdied the next,” he said. “That got me out in front, and I just kept hitting greens.”
Wilson said Maddalena is a tough golfer to chase.
“He bogeyed the first hole and I think that was his only mistake of the day really,” he said. “Steve doesn’t make many mistakes. He is so steady and constant that with him you are always chasing. Then that means you can’t make a mistake. That didn’t happen, but I’m still proud of how it turned out. Shooting a couple of rounds under par here is always fun.”
Rick Herpich of Orchard Lake, 68, won the Super Senior Division title (golfers ages 65-plus) for the third time and for the second consecutive year.
He said he wanted to shoot his age but missed by one with a three-putt bogey at No. 18 for a 2-under 69. It left him with a two-shot win over Jeff Knudson of Beverly Hills, who closed with a 71 for 143. Mike Raymond of Jackson, who shot 76 for 145, finished third.
“It wasn’t the finish I wanted, but I did get the win and I played pretty solid for both days,” Herpich said. “I don’t look at (the leaderboard) because I’m just trying to play my best, but I felt like I might be in the lead so I looked at 18 (tee). I saw I was still a couple strokes up and I just wanted to finish with a par.”
Herpich, the 2020 GAM Super Senior Player of the Year, is playing in the Society of Seniors National Super Senior Championship in Columbus, Ohio, at the end of this month.