Steve Maddalena Back in Winner’s Circle at 8th GAM Senior Match Play Championship
SOUTH LYON – Jackson’s Steve Maddalena admitted to a few nerves as he turned back Donald Simmons of Northville 3 and 1 to win the 8th GAM Senior Match Play Championship presented by Sullivan Golf Travel.com Friday at Walnut Creek Country Club.
“I was a little nervous because I haven’t been in that position in a while,” the three-time Michigan Amateur champion and Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member said after accepting the Jerry Walker Trophy.
“I haven’t played well enough to get in that position. “
It was the first senior win for the 56-year-old senior account executive for Kentwood Office Furniture in Jackson, and the first state title since he won his third Michigan Amateur in 1995 to go with titles in 1980 and 1990.
“Sometimes you begin to wonder why you practice if you can’t win a bigger tournament,” he said. “Winning the local stuff is one thing, but I’ve always played and practiced to win bigger events. It gets demoralizing when you don’t have any real success for so long.”
George Dillon of Midland won his second Super Senior Division title in the tournament. The 68-year-old, who is retired from Dow Chemical, also won in 2013. This time he turned back Dave Kempner, a 68-year-old Ann Arbor attorney, 2-up in the title match.
Maddalena, who had back surgery at age 49 and has been forced to change his swing to compensate, said the guys at Country Club of Jackson might quit picking on him for hitting so many practice balls on the range.
“It’s good to ha something positive so you feel good about going to the driving range,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get my swing comfortable from when I had to change. I can do it on the driving range. I’m a really good range player.”
He was solid on the course through the week, turning back Glenn Murray of Bingham 1-up, Mark Mann of Ann Arbor 5 and 4, Michael Parker of Lapeer 1-up, fellow Jackson golfer Pete Walz 1-up in a semifinal match and finally Simmons.
“I got more comfortable the more I played, and my putting was good,” Maddalena said. “I was really worried with the rule change (anchoring ban), but I went back to the way I used to putt when I was winning and I’ve had some success with it. It’s been good this year.”
Simmons, 62, an HVAC contractor and member of Western Golf & Country Club, said he had a great week.
“Before today, I was behind only once in a match all week, and that was for two holes,” he said. “I got behind at the end there. Steve played really well. Then I had to take some chances and they didn’t work out. I got a bad break on the 16th hole with that hard pan lie, but that’s golf. I got some good breaks this week, too.”
Dillon called his Super Senior final match with Kempner scruffy golf.
“I don’t think either of us played our best, but I chipped well today and that kept me going,” he said. “It was tight match until the last few holes. He hit his ball in the water on 15. We both hit it in the water on 17, and on 18 he hit it in the hazard again.”
Kempner, who also finished second in 2014 in the Super Senior title match to Michael Phillips, said he wished he had played better.
“I thought I hit it in the fairway at 17, but we couldn’t find the ball,” he said. “It wasn’t meant to be.”
Dillon started match play on Wednesday with a 3 and 2 won over John Thrasher of Sarnia 3 and 2, topped John Lindholm of Grand Blanc 4 and 3, beat Pete Saputo of Bloomfield Hills in 20 holes in a semifinal and then turned back Kempner.
VIA Greg Johnson