BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Powered by the scoring of tournament co-medalist Tom Werkmeister and Evan Bowser Team Michigan won the 12th USGA Men’s State Team Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham Friday.
Team Michigan, which included Grandville’s Werkmeister, Dearborn’s Bowser and Anthony Sorentino of Shelby Township, won the team title for the first time in the championship’s history. With two of three scores counting each round, Michigan closed with a 5-under 137 in the final round behind Werkmeister’s 67 and Bowser’s 70 on the par 71, 7,044-yard West Course.
“The guys fell in love with the golf course from the get go, so it didn’t surprise me that they played well,” said Ken Hartmann, the non-playing captain and the senior director of rules and competitions for the Golf Association of Michigan said in a phone interview from Alabama.
“Tom played great from the start and was en fuego today putting on those old-fashioned greens, and Evan stayed steady, just never made a mistake and finished strong every day like today with a birdie on 18. I knew we had a strong team. They liked the golf course and then just played great.”
Michigan finished with 4-under 422 for the three days, three shots ahead of Arizona and North Carolina at 425.
Werkmeister, 48-year-old salesman who has won the Michigan Amateur and Michigan Open in a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame career, had five birdies in his first 12 holes Friday, shooting 3-under 32 on the front nine to key his final round. He was elated to be part of a winning team.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t think we were capable of winning, I just can’t believe we won this event,” said Werkmeister, who is this year’s GAM champion. “It’s such a cool tournament. It’s absolutely way different than winning a tournament on your own. It’s really, really cool to share it with your teammates – a way different feeling. Waiting for the last groups to come in was so cool, hanging with our teammates, fist-bumping, hugging and slapping high fives.”
Bowser birdied No. 18 for the third time in the tournament for his 70, which helped Michigan hold off rallies by Arizona and North Carolina. The recent graduate of Oakland University said the week was an incredible experience.
“We played one of the best courses I’ve ever played, we played great, and it’s exciting to bring a trophy back to Michigan,” Bowser said. “Its way more cool to win as part of a team with friends around as opposed to doing it an individual. It’s just a cool and unique experience.”
Bowser plans to move to Arizona this winter to work on his game and is yet to decide if he will try a professional career. He said he was enjoying the moment, something he has learned to do since his mother succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2011.
“It was a very tough time for a few years, but I learned a lot and it changed my outlook on life and golf,” he said. “I’m enjoying experiences like this, trips like this, amazing golf courses and tournaments. Golf is more fun for me now. I appreciate all that goes on around it.”
Werkmeister’s 67 gave him a 5-under 208 total for the week after rounds of 71 and 70 the first two days. He tied for first individually with Jay Whitby of Delaware, who shot 66 to close.
Bowser tied for sixth on the individual list with rounds of 73, 71 and 70 for 1-over 214. Sorentino, an assistant prosecutor in Macomb County and the recent GAM Mid-Amateur Champion, had a low of 78 in the second round.
Complete scores for team and individuals as well as stories and photos can be found at www.usga.org.
The United States Golf Association conducts the USGA Men’s State Team Championship on a biennial basis. It features teams of three players from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.