Sunday, June 27, 2010

Future Wolverine Joey Garber wins Michigan Amateur

Surrounded by a near-record crowd of family, friends and club members, 18-year old Joey Garber of Petoskey won the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club, 2 & 1 over Eric Lilleboe of Okemos.

Garber took control of the match right out of the gate by winning the first three holes.

“It’s all about getting into the moment and getting the lead,” said Garber. “He’s a good player and he played everyone really well this week. “My caddie (Jimmy Dewling) and I had a game plan before I teed off on the final match to turn at all square and then start my push on the back. I’ve played holes 10 through 18 really well this week. I knew those holes had to be where I took the lead.”

It didn’t go exactly how Garber had planned, because Lilleboe won three holes in a row to go 1 up after 9 and kept the lead until hole No. 12, where Garber won the hole to bring the match back to all square. Garber proceeded to win 13 with a par.

“He deserved to win,” said Lilleboe. “We’re friends, we’ve played together a lot up north and he’s a really good player. I just finished up my senior year at Ferris State University and my last amateur tournament will be the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at Boyne – The Heather Course on July 22 before turning professional this fall."

Garber has won four GAM Championships in the last four years, but "I really wanted to win this championship; it’s the most important tournament in the state.”

Garber is also the third youngest player ever to win the Michigan Amateur Championship. The second famous amateur ever to live, Chuck Kocsis won it in 1930 at the age of 17, and Korey Mahoney won it at age 18 in 2002.

By winning the Michigan Amateur, Garber receives an automatic five-year exemption into the Michigan Amateur Championship, as well as The Western Amateur, Susquehana Amateur in Pennsylvania, the Michigan Open and the GAM Championship.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

College players advance at Michigan Amateur

CLARKSTON, Mich. - The 40-somethings are out. The young guns are in. And Tom Werkmeister won't be around on the weekend at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club in Clarkston to defend his Michigan Amateur title.

Tom Werkmeister, 42 (Kentwood), was defeated by Eric Lilleboe, of Okemos after 20 holes. The roles were reversed for Lilleboe, a Ferris State player, who lost last year to Werkmeister in the quarterfinals on the last hole.

"I wanted to play him again and knew I would because he has been the best amateur in the state for the last year, it was a grind and I was glad I got to play him but at the same time I didn't want to," said Lilleboe.

Joseph Juszczyk, a former Wayne State player from Dearborn Heights and the 2009 Michigan Amateur Championship Medalist, will face Lilleboe in the first semifinal at 8 a.m. The two are familiar foes as they have faced each other about 10 times this past year in college and other amateur events.

The other match will also feature two college players Joey Garber (Petoskey) and Nick Carbary (Kalamazoo). Garber, 18, is an incoming University of Michigan freshmen, who made 4 birdies on the holes 13 -16 to finish off his match against 38-year-old Jeff Champine (Rochester Hills), 4 and 2. Garber's previous best finish in the Michigan Amateur was as a quarterfinalist:

"It's good to get past the hump to the elite 8, it will help me make the transition from junior golf to college golf," he said.

Friday Quarterfinal Match Play Results
Lilleboe def. Werkmeister, 20 holes
Juszczyk def. Brownback, 3 & 2
Garber def. Champine, 4 & 2
Carbary def. Peterson, 19 holes

Saturday Semi-Final Matches

Lilleboe vs. Juszczyk 8:00 am

Garber vs. Carbary 8:15 am

Friday, June 25, 2010

Top seeds falling at Michigan Amateur

Clarkston, MI – There were a lot of surprises during the first two rounds of match play at the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club, as five of the top ten seeds lost their matches. The medalist, Tim Katanski (Ypsilanti) lost his first match to the 64th seeded player, David Brownback (DeWitt) 3&2.

Brownback won in a playoff to survive stroke play.

“I missed my wife’s and my anniversary on Tuesday, missed my wife’s birthday on Wednesday and I even had a special dinner planned for her but then had to call her to cancel because I was in a playoff for the final spot so I’m in the dog house and I don’t even get paid for this.” said Brownback. “The only way I can make this work is if I come home with the trophy.”

The group in the sweet sixteen is rather young, as 11 of the players left are under age 25, including Nick Carbary (Kalamazoo), Chris Cunningham (Milford), Kasey Hocquard (Cheboygan), Joseph Juszczyk (Dearborn Heights), Chad Johnson (Plymouth), Eric Lilleboe (Okemos), Joey Garber (Petoskey), Drew Preston (Ada), Matt Thompson (Battle Creek), Hrynewich, Brett Hudson (Bloomfield Hills), and Aaron Peterson (Ann Arbor).

The Championship continues on Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. There are several intriguing matchups, including the 2009 Michigan Amateur runner-up Matt Thompson (Battle Creek) vs. Jeff Champine (Rochester Hills) and Juszczyk (2009 Michigan Amateur Medalist and Wayne State Senior) vs. Johnson, his college teammate. The quarterfinal matches will take place on Friday afternoon, with the semifinals and final match scheduled for Saturday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Michigan Amateur heads into match play

Clarkston, MI – For the second straight day at the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship, only two players Tim Katanski (Ypsilanti) and Johnathan Pauli (DeWitt) broke par at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club. Katanski followed his first round of even-par 71 with a 69 today to capture medalist honors. Katanski’s two day total of 140 edged defending Champion Tom Werkmeister (Kentwood) who shot 70-73-143, and Pauli who shot 73-70-143 and Nick Carbary (Kalamazoo) who shot 71-72-143.

“I had a good feeling coming in here,” Katanski said. “Oakhurst’s superintendent (Kyle Celmer) has this course in phenomenal shape and the greens are rolling great. It’s a comfortable yardage into the holes and the fairways are very generous. I only missed one fairway all day on hole # 9. I love the layout of this course. I think Oakhurst is a fair test and has plenty of room to hit the ball perfectly.”

Werkmeister bogied the last three out of the four holes.
The Championship continues on Thursday morning at 7:15 a.m. with the beginning of match play. The 64-player field was completed after David Brownback (Haslett) captured the final spot in a playoff. The ten players who finished at 156 had an immediate hole-by-hole playoff for one spot. Two rounds of matches will be played on Thursday to reduce the field from 64 to the “Sweet Sixteen.”

The leaderboard following Wednesday’s second round of stroke play at the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship played on the par-71 Oakhurst Golf & Country Club.

Tim Katanski, Ypsilanti 71-69-140
Jonathan Pauli, DeWitt 73-70-143
Nick Carbary, Kalamazoo 71-72-143
Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood 70-73-143
Eric Lilleboe, Okemos 73-71-144
Matthew Thompson, Battle Creek 70-74-144
Martin Jeppesen, Ypsilanti 73-71-144
Payne Gniewek, Trenton 74-71-145

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Familiar names atop Michigan Amateur first-round leaderboard

Clarkston, MI – Difficult conditions at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club led to plenty of high scores in the first round of stroke play qualifying at the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. The championship field of 156 Michigan players faced a constant swirling wind, 3 to 4 1/2-inch rough, and green speeds stimping at 10 1/2. Only two players shot under par, and 71 players shot 80 or over.

Defending champion, Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood, and University of Michigan junior-to-be Matt Thompson of Battle Creek, last year's runner-up, both shot 70. The duo attributed their solid rounds to consistency and talked about the difficulty of the greens.

“I got off to a good start and turned at one over”, Thompson said. “I birdied holes #16 and #17 which calmed my nerves. This course fits my game. It’s probably one of the toughest courses that the Michigan Amateur Championship has ever been played on.”

Werkmeister had this to say: “I played really badly yesterday during my practice round and didn’t know what was going to happen today,” he said. “I was consistent. I had two birdies on holes #5 and #7 and one bogey. I played the tough par 3’s even par – so I was happy with that. It was very windy and we did get caught in the rain early on but overall I’m happy.”

Stroke play continues Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. Following Wednesday’s round, the 36-hole stroke play medalist will be determined and a hole-by-hole playoff will take place, if necessary, to cut the field to an even 64 players for match play. Match play begins Thursday morning with two rounds of matches on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

* Here is the leaderboard following Tuesday’s first round of stroke play at the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship played on the par-71 Oakhurst Golf & Country Club:

Matthew Thompson, Battle Creek 37-33-70

Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood 34-36-70

Nick Carbary, Kalamazoo 37-34-71

Tim Katanski, Ypsilanti 36-35-71

Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc 37-35-72

Jeff Champine, Rochester Hills 35-37-72

Martin Jeppesen, Ypsilanti 37-36-73

Eric Lilleboe, Okemos 36-37-73

Erik Schleicher, Grosse Pte Shores 38-35-73

Eric Spencer, Bloomfield Hills 37-36-73

Kevin Klemet, White Lake 37-36-73

Steven Fedewa, Howell 36-37-73

Jonathan Pauli, DeWitt 36-37-73

Anthony Sorentino, Shelby Twp, 35-38-73

Monday, June 21, 2010

99th Michigan Amateur set to tee off at Oakhurst in Clarkston

Golfers teeing it up in this week's Michigan Amateur will have their hands full with the treacherous greens of the Oakhurst Golf & Country Club in Clarkston.

The 99th Michigan Amateur, run by the Golf Association of Michigan, tees off with stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by 64 players who then advance to match play starting Thursday until a champion is crowned Sunday.

Tom Werkmeister, 42, of Kentwood, returns to defend his title.

"It's been a privilege being champion," he said at media day Monday. "I've lived on a cloud the past 12 months. It's something that you can never take away from me."

Werkmeister beat the University of Michigan's Matt Thompson in last year's final, but even he concedes Thompson will be tough to beat this year. Thompson, a sophomore, was all-Big Ten after setting a Wolverine scoring record average of 72 for 18 holes during the season.

"I can't see him staying an amateur much longer," Werkmeister said.

Thompson hopes to seal the deal this summer.

“I was able to compete to (nearly) win some tournaments (within the last year),” Thompson told “I put myself in position and was close to the lead going into the last rounds. Hopefully I can get in position and figure out how to close some of those tournaments out.”

Oakhurst should be a great match-play venue, according to all involved. There are several potential drivable par-4s, notably the 303-yard 16th hole. Dean Horn, the president of Oakhurst, said the course, which opened in 1998, has never been in better shape. The beautiful 40,000-square-foot clubhouse will provide many a comfortable home base for all involved.

Michigan golf legend Dan Pohl, who won twice on the PGA Tour, said the Arthur Hills course has the toughest set of greens he's ever had to read.

"The eyes show you one thing and the ball will go the opposite," agrees Bruce Baringer, a four-time club champion who will have the home-course advantage this week.

Ken Hartmann, the senior director of rules and competitions for the GAM, said the par 3s will make or break the players.

"No. 8 (200 yards), No. 12 (189 yards) and No. 14 (175 yards) are pretty nasty," he said.

Oakhurst plans to use the tournament to showcase its course and facilities. The club has added 35 new members this year, despite the economic challenges of the golf scene in metro Detroit. The club, built inside a 400-home community, boasts 300 members, a large pool, tennis courts and a market next to the clubhouse.

"There is a heartbeat here," Horn said. " ... We like to think the best years are ahead of us."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Big-hitting Brehm wins second straight Michigan Open

Orchard Lake, Mich. — Ryan Brehm of Mt. Pleasant erased a two-shot deficit to capture his second consecutive Michigan Open championship. The 24-year old Hooters Tour player shot a final round 67 for a tournament total of 268 at the Orchard Lake Country Club. Gary Smithson of Grand Rapids had the low round of the day with a 65 that moved him into a tie for second with Eric Wohlfield of Brighton at 270. Andy Matthew of Ada, who had led the entire tournament slipped to fourth-place 273 with a final round 74.

“I enjoyed coming from behind,” Brehm said. “It brought out the best in me.
“This feels really good. It’s just nice to win and beat a good field.”

Brehm’s win last year was different in that he got out to an early lead in the first round and finished the tournament at 20-under par which was 8-shots better than second place.

Smithson charged through the field shooting 4-under par on the front nine. The 42-year old head professional at Thousand Oaks Golf Club bogeyed the last hole however, which gave Brehm the 2-stroke cushion playing two groups behind. “I feel sick to my stomach” he said after the tournament. “I’m pretty disappointed with my finish.”

The other runner up, Wohlfield felt entirely different. He was ecstatic about his finish and hopes the $4,250 he earned today will help get him to the tour-qualifying event in November. “It was my worst round of the week but I’m happy with it. It was fun to play with Andy and we were hitting 60-yards behind Brehm all day with our second shots.”

Brehm earns $10,000 for his win out of the $70,000 purse. The Michigan Open will change venues next year moving to The Orchards in Washington Township.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

TPC of Michigan still one of the state's best

The Tournament Players Club of Michigan has unfortunately fallen off the radar a bit after losing its signature Ford Senior Players Championship in 2006.

But as I found out recently, the host of 16 Champions Tour majors is just as dramatic and thrilling to play these days as it was during its heyday. The private course was purchased by The Heritage Golf Group of San Diego in 2007, joining four other TPCs under the Heritage umbrella – TPC Eagle Ridge, TPC Prestancia, TPC Tampa Bay and TPC Piper Glen. All five are excellent facilities that continue to earn status as Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.

The service you come to expect from a TPC property trickles from the top down, led by General Manager Lee Woodruff, who has had stints working at Garland Resort and the Detroit Golf Club. Assistant head professional Nate Matejek recently earned his Class A membership from the PGA of America.

Woodruff says the TPC is unique because most of its memberships are corporate in nature. Traditionally, the course is busier during the week with corporate events and small outings, he said, than it is on the weekend.

Thanks to two corporate partnerships, the Jack Nicklaus course is accessible as a stay-and-play package with the MGM Grand Detroit, downtown’s most luxurious casino resort.

The “Tee” golf package at the MGM, costing $399, includes two rounds, transportation to and from the course and one night to experience all the wonders of MGM. If only one person in the room is a golfer, the other round can be converted into a 50-minute massage at MGM’s stunning Immerse Spa and Salon, a two-story urban loft inspired by the world’s most calming element: water.

How ironic … considering that water tortures almost every golfer at the TPC. If you get the chance to tee it up here – either by joining as a member or as a member-for-a-day during a corporate outing or with a stay-and-play package – don’t turn it down. This is one of Michigan’s most prestigious tee times.

The TPC of Michigan has always had a reputation for being too tough for many high-handicappers but that caught my fancy about the place. The narrow fairways twist through mounds and around intimidating water hazards. You have to be precise or be wet.

It’s easy to pucker up anywhere on the sixth hole, a short par 4 that requires a steady 3-wood and short iron to avoid the water. The approach shots on the par-4 14th, requiring at least a 160-yard blast over wetland to the green, and the par-5 17th, guarded by water up the entire left side, are equally intimidating.

After the round, golfers can enjoy the spoils of a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse that serves great food. Or just a short distance away is Andiamo Ristorante, a casually elegant haunt on Michigan Avenue serving succulent prime rib, steak, seafood and pasta.

Visit for more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Golf Club at Harbor Shores to host 2 Senior PGAs, charity shootout

I knew the Golf Club at Harbor Shores would be special, but I didn’t know it would be THIS special.

The 6,981-yard, par-71 course, roaming through the forest and dunes of Benton Harbor, rocked the Michigan golf scene with a pair of stunning announcements last week. The course, set to open all 18 holes July 1, will host a charity shootout featuring designer Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller on Aug. 10, bringing much needed excitement to a tournament golf scene in Michigan sorely lacking any luster.

The move by KitchenAid, a division of Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp., to sponsor the Senior PGA Championship from 2011-2014 no doubt sealed Harbor Shores’ bid to host the prestigious Champions Tour major in 2012 and 2014. That’s three must-watch tournaments added to the Michigan golf calendar in the near future to complement the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion.

Michigan might not have enough sponsorship dollars available to attract the PGA Tour, but these events help fill the void. Last summer, the Buick Open folded last year after a 51-year run in the state. And it seems even the great Oakland Hills Country Club might not be active at all as a tournament venue this decade.

The love from the old guys should help soften the snub by the world’s greatest players. The Champions Tour is becoming more popular all over again, thanks to the competitive fires still burning within former major champions Freddy Couples, Nick Price, Mark O’Meara, Tom Kite and others.

And the charity event featuring a skins format featuring rotating two-man teams should be the coolest “exhibition” to hit Michigan since the 2004 Arnold Palmer Turning Point Invitational that featured dozens of former U.S. Amateur winners at the Country Club of Detroit (although the Par-3 Shootout at Treetops was also fun to watch). It will serve as the course's official "grand opening."

The legendary foursome of Watson, Palmer, Nicklaus and Miller offer a combined 199 Tour wins and 35 majors. This could be the last time spirited rivals Nicklaus and Palmer tee it up together. And Miller, the controversial voice of NBC, never plays “competitively” anymore. A limited number of $50 tickets will be sold with access to the course and a clinic. In addition, an Evening for Champions “roundtable” discussion will be held at the Mendel Center Mainstage at Lake Michigan College from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are available for $25 at

“I consider Arnold, Tom and Johnny among my closest friends in golf, so I not only look forward to getting together with them again but also having them with me as we celebrate the opening of The Golf Club at Harbor Shores,” Jack Nicklaus said in a statement. “The Harbor Shores Champions for Change event is a great opportunity to highlight how golf is being used as a vehicle for social and economic revitalization, particularly in the Benton Harbor community.”

All of these events will be a boon for Michigan’s beleaguered economy, both financially and emotionally. Money from all over Michigan, not to mention Chicago and Indiana, should pour into Benton Harbor during these tournaments. It’s clear that golf and the real estate and resort development at Harbor Shores is the best thing to happen to Benton Harbor in decades.

For tee times, call 269-927-GOLF or visit

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Orchard Lake CC preparing for 2010 Michigan Open

The Michigan Open is set to return to Orchard Lake Country Club for the second straight year June 14-17 for its 93rd edition.

Thanks to a little luck from Mother Nature, the historic club’s classic design was one of the few area Oakland County courses to escape the winter unscathed. Ice damage forced some of OLCC’s neighboring clubs to re-sod greens and fairways.
The Harry Colt-C. H. Alison design looked in prime shape during a visit last month. The rough was starting to thicken and the greens as smooth as glass.

“We were lucky,” OLCC head pro Brian Dice said.

The buzz surrounding this tournament will surround defending champion Ryan Brehm, a former Michigan State University star trying to make his way to the PGA Tour. The Oakland Press reported in April that Brehm will defend his title, but Dice indicated that U.S. Open qualifying could prevent his return. Brehm’s power dazzled fans and competitors alike in 2009. He successfully drove the fourth and sixth greens, outmuscling the field to shoot 20-under-par. He bested Jeff Roth, a former champion, by eight shots.

“Orchard Lake Country Club is a great fit for my style of golf,” Brehm told the paper. “The firm and fast greens emphasize good course management and precise approach shots and the par-5s are a good combination of risk and reward.”
His 264 was three short of the record set by Michigan legend Chick Harbert.

Although the course got rave reviews from players, the tournament will move to The Orchards, a public course in Macomb County for 2011 and 2012. I don’t think you can go wrong with either venue. Orchard Lake is shorter and void of ball-gobbling water hazards, yet its rolling terrain and elevated sloping greens make scoring a challenge.

The Orchards, home of the 2002 USGA’s National Public Links Championship, features tighter tee shots and the potential to rack up penalty shots for balls lost in wetlands. Both should provide a dramatic theater for one of Michigan's most historic tournaments.

For more visit