DOUBLE THE FUN: Ann Arbor’s Tyler Copp Leads GAM Championship
REDFORD – Ann Arbor’s Tyler Copp took the lead in the 99th GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland and will be going for the elusive same-season double crowns of Michigan amateur golf.
The Mercer University (Ga.) golfer and winner of the Michigan Amateur Championship earlier this summer shot consecutive rounds of 4-under 66 Monday on a par-adjusted Western Golf & Country Club course and rides a three-shot lead into the final round of the 54-hole championship on Tuesday.
“You’re here, so you might as well try and win it,” he said. “I still feel like I have something to prove. You know, there’s people out there saying that maybe it was a little bit of a fluke at the (Amateur). I don’t really know if they are, but thinking there might be is all the motivation I need to go out and try to keep it going.”
Ironically, his three-shot lead was on James Piot of Canton, who he defeated 2 and 1 in the title match of the Amateur earlier this summer on The Heather course at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs.
Piot, a Michigan State standout, and the 2018 GAM Champion shot 68 and 67 for 135 Monday on the Donald Ross-designed course that was played at par 70.
Heavy rain over the weekend caused some routing changes and the par 4 No. 13 hole to be played as a par 3 from a dry spot in the fairway, and the No. 8 hole, a par 5 for members, was set up as a par 4 for the GAM’s top golfers.
Jimmy Chestnut of Royal Oak was the last golfer to pull off the two major Michigan wins in the same season in 2008, and keeping with the irony theme, it is Chestnut who 12 years later will join Copp and Piot in the final threesome Tuesday.
Chestnut, a 38-year-old attorney, shot rounds of 67 and 69 for 136, four shots off Copp’s lead.
Also checking in at 136 were Andrew Walker of Battle Creek, a Michigan State teammate of Piot, who shot 67-69, and Wayne State University golfer Matthew Pelak of Mattawan, who shot a pair of 68s.
Another Wayne State golfer, Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills, shot 70-67 for 137 and was tied with Michael Coriasso of White Lake, last year’s GAM Mid-Amateur Champion who shot 68-69.
Defending champion Mitchell White of Muskegon, a two-time winner of the GAM, made the cut on 3-over-143 line for the low 30 scorers for the final round. He shot rounds of 72 and 71.
Copp, who will be a senior at Mercer in the fall, said he felt good all day despite not getting a practice round because of the weekend rain.
“I had no three-putts and I hit a lot of greens,” he said. “I think I missed two greens in the second round, so when you play a course with small greens like this and hit 16, you are going to have a lot of putts for birdie. I feel good about that.”
He also said he liked that Piot was going to join him in the final group.
“That’s going to be fun,” he said. “I figured he would be there, and I wanted to be there. I’m excited about it.”
Piot, who will be a senior at Michigan State but is likely to opt for another year of eligibility, described his day as up-and-down.
“There were a lot of uncharacteristic shots – I hit some bad shots out there,” he said. “But then, I made a lot of birdies. I didn’t hit it great but managed by best out of it. I’m definitely looking forward tomorrow just for the chance to get back at Tyler maybe. I’m excited for it and just need to tighten up a few sloppy things and go after it.”
Piot said experience tells him the course will be set up for the final round.
“That’s what they do for the GAM Championship so I expect some tough pins,” he said. “I want to play smart and play to my strengths and see what I can do.”
INFORMATION: Visit GAM.org