Portage’s Mitch Wilson Earns Second GAM Senior Match Play Title
AUGUSTA, Mich. – An emotional Mitch Wilson of Portage won the GAM Senior Match Play Championship for the second time in the last five years Thursday, and with it the Jerry A. Walker Memorial Trophy.
After he turned back Charles “Chip” Anderson of Grand Rapids 2 and 1 in the championship match at Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort’s Stoatin Brae course, he called it a special trophy, a special week and then dedicated the win to his mother Jeddy Wilson, who passed away two weeks ago.
“She was the one when I was a youngster that would get me over to Grand Prairie Golf Course where I could play golf for 50 cents,” he said. “She is really the one who got me going with playing golf. So, this one is for you mom. Thank you.”
Wilson, 62, the men’s head golf coach at Kalamazoo College and a member at The Moors Golf Club in Portage, is a neighbor of Jerry Walker’s widow (Christine). Walker was a GAM rules official who died in 2015 at the age of 66.
Wilson, who won his first GAM Senior Match Play title in 2015, said the permanent traveling trophy he gets to keep at his home for a year would be celebrated once again in the neighborhood.
“It was a blessing to be out here playing golf again,” he said. “Up to a week ago I wasn’t sure we would be able to play this tournament, but it was great to see everybody and compete. Golf is a game where we can social distance quite well, especially out here with the way the ball bounces all over the place.”
The GAM Senior Match Play Championship was the first GAM tournament played this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. A field of 113 golfers over age 55 started the championship on Monday.
Ian Harris of Bloomfield Hills emerged as the Super Senior Division Champion for the second consecutive year. He beat Tom Johnson of Gobles 4 and 3 in the title match.
Wilson said he and Anderson showed the wear and tear of playing six rounds of golf in four days in the championship.
“It wasn’t our best day, but it was fun to play with Chip and the course was really set up well for match play,” he said.
Wilson took an early lead in the match and did trail for a brief period on the front nine before taking a 3-up lead for several holes.
“In my first match against Bill Zylstra this week I figured something out on the 13th hole and I played well after that,” he said. “Today was kind of struggle, but because I was mentally tired more than anything else. I think we both felt the brunt of that. It’s a lot of golf.”
Anderson, 56 and a Wells Fargo financial advisor, lost to the eventual champion for the second consecutive year. He was beaten by 2019 champion Kevin Klemet in the semifinals a year ago.
“Seems to be a pattern,” he quipped. “I didn’t hit is as good as I have been. I had a few goofy shots and I made a few bad choices. I wasn’t really comfortable with my putter all week. I got to the finals because I kind of parred people to death. That wasn’t going to work against Mitch.”
Harris, 67, said he felt the pressure of defending his Super Senior title, and it was fun.
“I think the golf course is a winner,” he said. “What a great track. I would like to see more events here because it is really something different for Michigan golf. I’ve played some links golf and the first three days when it was running hard and fast I think that experience helped me.”
Johnson had an early 2-up lead, but Harris said he turned the tide with a birdie on the par 5 sixth hole.
“From there I kind of relaxed and started to play better and then never really made any mistakes to let him back in,” Harris said. “We kind of played our lousy holes at the same time. Tom hits it really straight. His putter got away from him in the middle holes there, otherwise tee-go-green we were pretty even.”
Johnson, who is 70, said he played kind of medium.
“Today was not my best day,” he said. “I played a mediocre stretch of holes after getting the lead and then he got up with a couple birdies and good shots and I couldn’t get back on top. He doesn’t make mistakes, but it was great to be playing again. It’s a really good golf course and it was really good competition.”
The championship matches were set up in the semifinal matches on Wednesday afternoon.
In the championship division Wilson turned back Steve Maddalena of Jackson 3 and 2, and Anderson topped Leo Daigle of Wixom 3 and 1. Maddalena, the 2016 champion, was the stroke play medalist on Monday to take the top seed in the match play bracket.
In the super senior semifinals on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson beat Gary Quitiquit of Highland 3 and 1, and Harris turned back Mark Ochsankehl of Caledonia 4 and 3.
via Greg Johnson