Wayne State’s Grant Haefner Finds Validation as Qualifying Medalist at Michigan Amateur
ADA TOWNSHIP – Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills came to the 106th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland hoping to earn a chance in the match play portion of the championship.
The 19-year-old Wayne State University golfer ended up taking the No. 1 seed for match play, the coveted Chuck Kocsis Trophy that goes to the qualifying medalist and what he described as much more with a 2-under 70 Wednesday for a 6-under 138 total at Egypt Valley Country Club.
“To me, this validates that I’m a player,” he said.
A playoff at 9-over 153 that included 10 players going for one spot ended with Cameron Carroll, a 17-year old East Lansing High School golfer earning the 64th and final spot in the bracket and a first-round match against Haefner.
Jake Kneen of White Lake, an Oakland University golfer who shot the low round of the day at 67, and first-round leader and 2001 champion Andy Matthews of Ada, who shot 74, tied for second at 140.
Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, the 2009 champion who shot 71, Nicholas Bonema of Troy, a Loyola University Chicago golfer who shot 70, and Patrick Sullivan, a 17-year-old Grosse Pointe South High School golfer who shot 73, tied at 142.
Rounding out the top 10, all at 145, were Jeff Champine of Rochester Hills, David Vaclav of Flat Rock, Oakland University golf coach Nick Pumford of Wixom, and recent Michigan Publinx Medal Play champion Connor Jones of Rochester Hills.
The round of 64 is slated for Thursday morning with the Haefner and Carroll match leading off at 7:15 a.m. The round of 32 determining the prestigious “Sweet 16” is scheduled for the afternoon. Match play continues through Saturday to determine a champion.
Haefner said the mind-set changes completely in the morning.
“Right now, I’m thrilled and I’m speechless and not sure what to say because this is the biggest accomplishment of my golf career,” he said. “The good thing is my confidence is at an all-time high, and I love match play. It fits my game. I don’t hit it that far, but I’m usually in the fairway and I hit first most of the time. I’ve been told by other players they hate playing me in match play.”
He made four birdies and two bogeys in his second round and called a chip-in for birdie on the par 5 No. 7 hole huge.
“I hit a bad drive, had to punch out and went through like a one-foot gap I wasn’t even trying to go through and then left my wedge shot short of the green,” he said. “But I told my caddie Randy (Hanna) just before the shot that I really like this chip-in. Then it went it and it really helped me stay confident.”
Kneen, who lost in the round of 16 a year ago, said his 67 came from a great day striking the ball. He had six birdies and just one bogey.
“I gave myself a lot of good birdie putt chances and fortunately I was able to make some of them,” he said. “Yesterday I played in some tough conditions in the afternoon, shot 73, but felt I played better than that score. Today, I scored like I felt like I played and I feel like my game is coming together.”
Complete Scores and Match Play bracket: Available 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