OAKLAND TOWNSHIP – Chad Johnson of Monroe trailed Leo Daigle of Wixom through the day, but stayed close.
Close enough to win three of the last five holes to emerge with a 1-up victory and the Michigan Publinx State Match Play Championship Tuesday at Twin Lakes Golf Club.
“I was fortunate,” the 30-year-old medical salesman said of his first major state victory. “My short gave saved me all week, and it was the reason I was even in this match.”
Daigle, 52, lamented some missed putts on the front nine that might have turned his 2-up lead through 13 holes into something larger.
“I had a few putts to bury him, but didn’t make them and let him hang around,” Daigle said. “We played just long enough for my age – he had 22 years on me – and being tired from all the golf this week to wear on me. I hit a few loose shots coming in and it really cost me, but he outplayed me and deserved to win. He made three sand saves on the front nine. He just kept grinding and hanging in there.”
Johnson hit a shot on the 182-yard par 3 No. 14 hole to two feet for birdie to pull within one hole, and then chipped to 18 inches to save par at 17 while Daigle played to bogey.
On 18, Daigle’s second shot on the par 5 found the long grass on the right and his third shot went into a back bunker and the result was a bogey. Johnson made par and had the win.
“Leo is a great competitor and the nicest guy you would ever want to meet,” said Johnson, a former Wayne State University and Canton High School golfer who recently took four years off from competitive golf to concentrate on his sales career.
“It means a lot to win this. There are so many great players in this, and all of my matches were so tough this week. In match play you just keep have to keep grinding it out.”
Johnson reached the final match with a semifinal win over Austin Kreger of Harrison Township in 20 holes on Friday, and Daigle made his way to the title match with a 2 and 1 win over Andrew Smith of Troy.
Champions were also crowned in a Senior bracket and Super Senior bracket. Matt Wiley of Canton beat Steve Sierawski of Sterling Heights 6 and 5 in the Senior title match, and Tom Day of Linden topped Mike Keneally of Bloomfield Hills 3 and 2 in the Super Senior final.
Complete results and the match play brackets can be found at www.mipublinx.com
Via Greg Johnson