White Lake’s Mike Hayes (above), an 11-handicapper, won the 2014 GAM Match Play Championship 2-Up over Dustin Ross (handicap 9) of Garden City.
The championship was held at Lakelands Golf & Club near Brighton.
Hayes established a 2-Up lead early, but Ross made birdies at 6 and 7 to square the match. Ross then went ahead at 14 when a Hayes approach shot went over the green. Wayward shots by Ross on 14, 17 and 18 turned the match in Hayes’ favor.
Because the championship is handicapped, Ross was giving away two shots to Hayes.
The full press release follows:
White Lake’s Mike Hayes wins GAM Net Match Play at Lakelands G&CC
BRIGHTON – Mike Hayes of White Lake said some people might look twice at the 11-handicap he carried to victory in the Golf Association of Michigan’s 3rd Net Match Play Championship presented by Global Golf Post.
“But this week I just kept getting better every round I played, and I didn’t make hardly any mistakes, and that’s not something that happens all that often,” he said Wednesday after turning back Dustin Ross of Garden City, 2-up, in the title match at Lakelands Golf & Country Club.
“I can’t believe I won it to be honest. Every guy I played was great, good golfers, true sportsmen, and great people. I really surprised myself by doing this.”
Hayes, a 47-year-old engineer, made it to the final with a 4 and 2 win over David Fagan of Warren in a morning semifinal. Ross, 35 and a U.S. Army National Guard pilot who also works for an airline, slipped past Tyler Lewis of Grand Blanc 1-up in the other semifinal.
Both golfers played well on the front nine of the title match. Hayes had an early 2-up lead, but Ross made birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 to make the match all square.
Ross, who was giving away two shots as a 9-handicap, had the lead through 13 holes after Hayes approach shot went over the green forcing a bogey, but he hit a tee shot behind a tree on 14 and lost the hole. Two more wayward tee shots hurt him at 17 and 18 as well.
“I hit it great on the front nine, but I was also able to use more 3-woods there,” Ross said. “On the back nine I had to hit driver in a few places, and maybe I did get a little tired. I just started hitting it in the trees and Mike wasn’t making mistakes.”
Hayes, who missed qualifying for match play a year ago in this event, said he never plays six rounds of golf in one week.
“I kept thinking I would get tired, but I was playing great and it’s amazing what adrenalin will do for you,” he said. “I was nervous for my (semifinal match), but not really in the final. I knew it would be a close match, and it was all the way to the last few holes.”
The GAM’s effort to provide competitive golf to more than the elite-skilled player led to a field of 74 golfers with a handicap index of 20.4 or lower playing in the tournament at the historic member-owned private club located in Hamburg Township.
Ross has played in all three Net Match Play tournaments and said it’s a wonderful event for a golfer like him who has to find time to play, but still loves to compete.
“It was a great tournament,” he said. “I congratulate Mike, and I’m proud that I got all the way to the final against him.”
For tournament information and the match play bracket check in with http://www.gam.org. For more information about Lakelands visit http://www.lakelandsgolf.com.