Pro Shop Employee Beats Club Champ to make Sweet 16 at Michigan Amateur Championship
ADA TOWNSHIP – Defending champion Sam Weatherhead of Grand Rapids, who just happens to be a pro shop employee at Egypt Valley Country Club, said it was a little weird, but not uncomfortable having to play five-time defending club champion Derrek Klimek.
“We’ve played a few times before casually, so it was actually fun and a really tough match,” he said Thursday after outlasting Klimek 2-up to reach the “Sweet 16” Thursday in the 106th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Egypt Valley.
Four matches were still on the course late in the day when rain and lightning forced two delays. The Weatherhead vs. Klimek match, which drew a crowd of Egypt Valley members, finished as darkness took over.
“I’ve known Sam for years and he is a great kid,” said Klimek, a wealth manager for Raymond Group. “I’m super excited for him. I tell you, at 42 it is a lot to do, play two matches and competing against a player like Sam. I feel great about getting this far, and it was awesome to be in it, especially at my home course.”
Weatherhead, a Michigan State golfer who missed the spring season with a broken bone in his right wrist, will lead the Sweet 16 into action Friday morning. The quarterfinals will follow in the afternoon with semifinals and finals set for Saturday.
Weatherhead, who beat 2014 champion Henry Do 3 and 2 in the first round Thursday morning, was 3-up early against Klimek, but the veteran club champ battled back more than once.
“The birdie I made at 13 was probably a turning point,” Weatherhead said. “I reached in two with driver and a 9-iron and got the birdie with a four-footer that took a lap around the cup before going in. Then he had trouble at 14, but came right back won 15. Then I won 16 after the rain, then he won 17 after the other rain and finally he gave me that last birdie at 18. It was a tough, tough match, but really fun.”
Among other highlights of the day, Cameron Carroll, a 17-year-old recent graduate of East Lansing High School and the last and No. 64 seed in the field via surviving a 10-golfer playoff for that final spot Wednesday, knocked off medalist and No. 1 seed Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills in 21 holes in the first match of the day.
Carroll, who has no college golf plans, went on to beat Michigan State golfer A.J. Varekois of Rockford 2 and 1 in the afternoon to make the round of 16. He will meet another Cameron in the round of 16. Cameron Lippoldt, a Northwood University golfer, won the last five holes of an afternoon match against Charles Anderson of Grand Rapids for a come-from-behind 1-up win.
Tom Werkmeister, the 2009 Michigan Amateur Championship winner from Grandville and a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, is in the round of 16 once again. The 49-year-old marketing salesman topped former Major League baseball player Mike Ignasiak of Saline 7 and 6 in the morning, and knocked out 2013 Michigan Amateur champion Andrew Chapman of Traverse City 4 and 3 in the afternoon.
Casey Baker of Ann Arbor, the 2010 GAM champion, is another frequent member of the round of 16. The 39-year-old COO of Carl’s Golfland had to go 27 holes to turn back John Quigley of St. Clair Shores in the morning, and then beat Jacob Kieronski of Wyandotte 1-up.
Two golfers on the Eastern Michigan University team – 2014 GAM Junior Invitational champion Beau Breault of Hartland and Tyler Lewis of Grand Blanc – made the round of 16, and could meet in a quarterfinal if they win round of 16 matches.
Andy Matthews of Ada, the 2001 champion and reinstated amateur, is in the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in nine Michigan Amateur starts. He grew up playing Egypt Valley while his parents were members.
Brett Hudson, a 32-year-old financial planner, had to fight off Oakland University golfer Jake Kneen for a tough 1-up win in the round of 32. He hit a 45-yard pitch to just inches on the par 5 No. 17 hole to take the final lead. Hudson, an Oakland Hills Country Club member, carried his own bag and is in the round of 16 for the second time.
THE SWEET 16
Cameron Carroll, 17, East Lansing, recent high school graduate
Cameron Lippoldt, 20, Midland, Northwood University golfer
Casey Baker, 39, Ann Arbor, chief operating officer Carl’s Golfland
Carson Castellani, 24, Okemos, medical school student at Wayne State
Steve McKalko, 52, Troy, technology salesman
Ken Hudson, 52, Bloomfield Hills, investment manager
Tom Werkmeister, 49, Grandville, marketing salesman
Josh Dirlam, 21, Spring Arbor, Lawrence Tech golfer
Andy Matthews, 37, Ada, director of development iFlightPlanner
Tyler Lewis, 22, Grand Blanc, Eastern Michigan University golfer
Beau Breault, 20, Hartland, Eastern Michigan University golfer
Andrew Tindall, 28, Chelsea, buyer for Consumers Energy
Brett Hudson, 32, Bloomfield Hills, financial planner
David Szymanski, 20, Grosse Pointe Park, Robert Morris University golfer
Sam Weatherhead, 22, Grand Rapids, Michigan State University golfer
Nathan Clark, 37, Charlotte, financial advisor for Merrill Lynch
Results/bracket: Find it at gam.org
About the GAM: Founded in 1919, the Golf Association of Michigan is the governing body for amateur golf in the state. As a not-for-profit organization, the GAM’s purpose is to promote, preserve and serve the game of golf. The GAM, served by over 250 dedicated volunteers, provides membership to more than 55,000 golfers and more than 470 Michigan golf courses, conducts over 30 amateur championships, oversees 18 USGA qualifying events, administers the GAM/USGA Handicap System and measures and rates almost 70 courses a year for the USGA. Learn more at www.gam.org.
via Greg Johnson