Friday, July 30, 2010

Matthews wins dramatic Boyne Tournament of Champions

BOYNE FALLS, Mich. - Andy Matthews, of Ada, erased a four shot deficit over the final three holes to win the Boyne Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort.

Matthews, 30, is a seasoned Canadian Tour professional and was trailing 15-year old Henry Do of Ypsilanti when the storybook ending for a sophomore in high school competing with Michigan’s best golfers turned into a putting nightmare. Do shook the Michigan golfing community by shooting a 10-under par 62 in Tuesday’s second round. He started the final round with a two-stroke advantage over LPGA Tour player Allison Fouch and a three stroke lead over Matthews. That lead was expanded to four shots as the final group headed to the fateful last three holes.

“I was kind of nervous, “ Do said. “I told myself to be confident and just make pars until a birdie situation became available.”

The five-foot four-inch Do did just that and was 11-under sailing into the 16th hole. He proceeded to three put 16 while Matthews birdied. That two stroke swing left him with a two-stroke lead heading to the par 3 17th. Do three putted again on 17 to take a one shot lead into the final hole. On the par 5 18th, Do and Matthews both laid up and hit wedges for their third shots landing well below the hole. Do nearly missed his putt while showing Matthews the line. Matthews made the 35-footer for birdie to get to 9-under. Do missed his two footer for par and a chance for a playoff. Matthew's won $10,000 of the $55,000 purse.

“I was stunned when Henry missed,” Matthews said. “I got a great look from his putt. I feel for Henry. We’ve all been there and he will grow from the experience."

The Tournament of Champions is a unique event pitting men, women, juniors and seniors together on Boyne Mountain’s Alpine course. The men play from the back tees at 6,938 yards, the senior men and high schoolers play from 6,562 yards and the women play from 5,898 yards. Matthews was the low man, Fouch the low woman at 6 under, Dave Kendall was the low senior at 5 under and Do was the low amateur at 7 under.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Liu breaks record set by Tiger Woods to win U.S. Junior Amateur at Egypt Valley

Michigan golf fans who attended the U.S. Junior Amateur witnessed history at Egypt Valley in Ada.

Jim Liu, of Smithtown, N.Y., became the youngest champion in the history of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship with his 4-and-2 victory over Justin Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., in the final match.

The 14-year-old Liu, who was born on Aug. 9, 1995, broke by more than seven months the previous championship record held by Tiger Woods, who was 15 years, 6 months and 28 days old when he won the 1991 championship.

“It is an honor to be just a part of the list of champions,” Liu said. “But to break Tiger's record is just a big plus. I have never thought I would do it, but it just happened to be my year this year.”

It certainly was Liu’s week on the hilly Egypt Valley course. After he quietly made his way through the stroke-play cut, Liu went on a tear through the match-play bracket, with only two of his matches going the full 18 holes.

“The first two rounds I either hit the ball good or I putted well,” Liu said. “I just didn't do it in the same round. After stroke play, I started to do it in the same round. I think that's just a matter of time and luck.”

Thomas opened the morning’s portion of the match by quickly building a 2-up lead through the first three holes. Liu was able to stay close to Thomas through the constant rain, tallying his first birdie on the fourth hole. He squared the match with a birdie that was nearly an ace on the par-3 eighth hole.

Liu started the back nine of the morning round with another birdie and never looked back from there. He shot the equivalent of 8 under par (with the usual match-play concessions) for the morning round, and then cruised through the afternoon round, shooting the equivalent of 1 under par, and ultimately closed the match out on the 34th hole.

Thomas' struggles with the putter proved to be his downfall.

“I played well enough to win, but it was just a couple putts here and there,” Thomas said. “There’s not many times you shoot 5 under in your first 18 and you’re 3 down. It was fun, but it’s unfortunate to lose.”

Thomas, who affectionately refers to Liu as “Slim Jim,” was able to pare his opponent’s lead down to one hole on two occasions on the afternoon’s second nine, the last occurring after he birdied the 31st hole. However, Liu quickly pushed back and won the next three holes to wrap up the match.

“This being my only year, it was unfortunate to get to the finals and not get it done, but I didn’t lose it, I got beat,” Thomas said. “I can’t be upset about that. It’s upsetting that I didn’t win, but it’s not upsetting that I didn’t lose it. I just got beat. He played great golf and deserves it.”

With their appearances in the final match, Liu and Thomas both received exemptions into the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship, being held August 23-29 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Egypt Valley hosts U.S. Junior Amateur all this week

There's a chance golf fans in greater Grand Rapids could catch a glimpse of the next Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.

For the first time in its history, the USGA is bringing a national championship to western Michigan. Starting today and continuing through Saturday, Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada will host the 63rd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

Jordan Spieth, the 2009 champion, will attempt to defend the title that he captured at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., at age 15. Spieth, who tied for
16th place in the PGA Tour's HP Byron Nelson Championship in May playing under an amateur exemption, will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Junior Amateur Championships. Tiger Woods took home the title three straight times, from 1991 to 1993.

The championship is open to the public free of charge. It will feature 156 golfers competing in two days of stroke-play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday, followed by six rounds of match play to determine a champion. The 36-hole championship match is scheduled for Saturday.

Other past winners of the championship include such accomplished players as Gay Brewer, Johnny Miller, Gary Koch, David Duval and Hunter Mahan. The Junior Amateur has another distinction: It is the only USGA championship for which Jack Nicklaus has been eligible that he did not win at least once. Nicklaus qualified for the championship five times; his best finish came in 1956, when he was a semifinalist.

This is the first USGA championship conducted at Egypt Valley, which was designed by Arthur Hills and opened in 1990. Egypt Valley hosted a Champions Tour event between 1994 and 2004. This is the fourth U.S. Junior Amateur to be held in Michigan, including the inaugural championship in 1948 at the University of Michigan Golf Club in Ann Arbor. The last Junior Amateur conducted in the state was in 1980 at Pine Lake Country Club in Orchard Lake, won by Eric Johnson.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Crystal Mountain's Michigan Women's Open still going strong

The Buick Open. The Ford Senior Players Championship. The Bay Mills Open. The Treetops Par-3 Shoot-out.

The tournament scene in Michigan has lost many great events over the past five years, but only a handful have weathered the financial storm.

The Michigan PGA Women's Open is one of them. The 54-hole championship enters its eighth year when 80 top female pros from 14 states tee it up July 12-14 at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville to compete for another $40,000 purse.

The field features top amateurs and players from both the Futures and LPGA Tours, including LPGA Tour winners Elaine Crosby and Cindy Figg-Currier, LPGA veteran and recent inductee into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, Sue Ertl, as well as Laura Kueny, the Big Ten Player of the Year.

Rehmann has pledged its support as the first Green Sponsor of the Open. Wind energy credits will be purchased through Renewable Choice Energy, a longtime partner of Crystal Mountain, to cover the carbon footprint of the Pro-Am. The number of participants, travel distance, transportation, food consumed and energy costs are among the factors included in that calculation. In total, this commitment by Rehmann will prevent the release of approximately 15.45 metric tons of CO2 or the equivalent of planting 450 trees.

“Rehmann is honored to be the first ‘Green’ sponsor of the Michigan PGA Women’s Open,” remarks Steve Kelly, Rehmann Chairman and CEO. “We have been committed to the success of the people and businesses of Michigan for nearly 70 years and are proud to be a part of this prestigious event.”

This latest partnership with Rehmann is consistent with Crystal Mountain’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The resort was among the first members of the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program and was one of 15 resorts nationwide recognized by Golf Digest for their environmental commitment which most recently included the addition of the Midwest’s only LEED-certified spa. This spring, Crystal Mountain CEO Jim MacInnes was honored as one of 16 Michigan Green Leaders by the Detroit Free Press.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grand Haven Golf Club hosts Folds of Honor's Patriot Day

Dan Rooney, the owner of Grand Haven Golf Club, continues to support his military comrades by hosting the the Folds of Honor Foundation and the Patriot Golf Day Tournament on Friday, July 16, 2010.

If you only support one charity golf event, this is one of the best in Michigan. Rooney, a jet fighter pilot who has done several tours of duty in Iraq, has created a wave of momentum to get the PGA of America and more than 1,000 golf courses across the country to support the cause.

Proceeds benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for the spouses and children of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving the U.S. military. The tournament is so popular it actually runs two separate shifts in one day. It begins with an 8:00 a.m. shotgun start, and a second shotgun start will begin at 1:00 p.m.

Entry fees for the tournament are $125 per player, or $75 for Grand Haven Golf Club members and military veterans, and $50 for active duty military. Each entry fee includes 18 holes of golf with cart, breakfast, lunch, happy hour (free Labatts Blue and non-alcoholic beverages), Patriot Day golf shirt and hat and prizes.

The Bruce Matthews senior course, opening in 1965, is one of the best along Michigan's western shore. Several sandy dunes highlight a good mix of holes. Call the club at (616) 842-4040 or visit for more.