Grandville’s Tom Werkmeister Captures Elusive GAM Championship at Barton Hills
ANN ARBOR – Tom Werkmeister finally got the one major state championship that had eluded him.
The new Grandville resident shot a closing 1-over 71 for a 5-under 205 total and four-shot win in the 95th GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Barton Hills Country Club Tuesday.
“I thought about this one for a long time, and it bothered me that I had not won it,” the 48-year-old who has won the Michigan Amateur, the Michigan Open, the Horton Smith, the Michigan Medal Play Championship, multiple GAM Mid-Amateurs and dominated in West Michigan amateur events.
“Before I ever won anything in the state, I thought this would be the one that was my best chance – a 54-hole medal play tournament,” he said. “For some reason it was the hardest one to get. I don’t know why it took so long, but it was finally my turn I guess.”
He did it despite a triple-bogey 7, which came via five putts, including a couple of lip-outs, to finish on the dangerous sloping green at the par 4 No. 13 hole. His eight-shot lead was suddenly trimmed to five.
“I was mad, but the pins were tough, really tough, and other than what happened there, I putted great all tournament,” he said. “A few days before this tournament in Kalamazoo (Invitational) I figured something out about my putting, and I hit the ball and putted great really.”
Alex Dombrowski of Gaylord, a 21-year-old senior to be this fall at Princeton University, finished with a 70 and 1-under 209 total for second place. He also admired Werkmeister’s finish after the triple bogey.
“After that on 13 to still grind it out and stick an approach shot on 16, hats off to Tom,” he said. “Those are not easy finishing holes. A lot of guys would have let that derail their round, so it was impressive to watch. It shows a lot. It’s a testament to his character to get right back to his game like that. I was taking notes for sure.”
Evan Bowser of Dearborn, Tom Gelardi of Whitmore Lake and defending champion Mitchell White tied for third at 211. White closed with a 70, Bowser a 72 and Gelardi a 73.
Jake Kneen of White Lake finished sixth with a 69 for 214, and two-time champion Casey Baker of Novi (74) tied Jack Weller of Swartz Creek (72) at 215.
Andrew Chapman of Traverse City (75), Dan Ellis of East Lansing (71), James Piot of Canton (74) and Kyle Rodes of Plymouth (74) tied at 216.
Dombrowski said things could have been different if he put some pressure on Werkmeister early in the round.
“I knew he wasn’t going to slip up much, he never does,” he said. “I hit the ball a lot better than I did yesterday. It was a big improvement. Some putts just didn’t drop. That happens. “
Werkmeister started the day with a four-shot lead on Gelardi and five on Dombrowski. He said he hit the ball and putted great on Monday.
“Today was still pretty good, and I made some putts,” he said. “I had that fiasco over there (at 13), but I putted really well. I knew I still had a good lead fortunately, and just played my game on in, which is pars down the stretch.”
Werkmeister, who has recovered fully from a broken arm over the winter, said he loved the difficult pin placements, and Donald Ross-designed courses like Barton Hills are his favorites.
“I like the challenge of a tough set-up, so I enjoyed that,” he said. “It was nice to win. I was having a good summer, won the (Grand Rapids) City Match Play, had a few seconds and a fifth at the Michigan Open, but this makes it really good.”
RESULTS: Complete tournament results can be found at www.gam.org
VIA Greg Johnson