Saturday, June 23, 2012

Drew Preston of Ada wins 101st Michigan Amateur

I'm off to Ireland today for the 2012 Irish Open, so I don't have much time to devote to a full take-out of the 101st Michigan Amateur. I'll leave the storytelling to one of the best golf writers in the state, Greg Johnson. See his story below.
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP – Drew Preston of Ada always looked up to Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood while growing up playing golf in the Grand Rapids area.
“It really couldn’t be scripted better,” he said after topping Werkmeister 2-up in the championship match of the 101st Michigan Amateur Championship on the Oakland Hills Country Club North course Friday afternoon. “It feels awesome to beat a guy like Tom. I remember looking up to him and thinking I want to be able to play with him someday. Now, I’m here, and it’s pretty gratifying.”
Preston, 21, called it a long week. He even dashed to Ohio to take a final exam on the history of Nazi Germany at Bowling Green State University after playing in Monday’s opening round. He has 12 credits remaining at BGSU, but has used up his golf eligibility where he won twice in four years but slumped his final season.
“I been working and going to school and practiced about eight days before this to have a good showing year,” he said. “This was a very hard year in college golf. This is best felt about my game in a long time. I needed it. I do have pro aspirations, but with some of the scores I was shooting there for a while, I was kind of you know, not too sure about it.”
Werkmeister, a 44-year-old internet salesman who won the 2009 Michigan Amateur, struggled with his game on the back nine after playing three consecutive matches with extra holes before the final.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said after losing an early 2-up lead and never trailing until No. 15.“I certainly played rather poorly and gave a lot of holes away. I mean he did what he had to do to win the holes. We both struggled out there on the back. He didn’t struggle as bad.”
Losing to a fellow West Michigan golfer made it easier to take, Werkmeister said.
“I like Drew, he’s a great kid,” he said. “I’ve known him for a handful of years. He has a great family. He’s a really nice kid so I can’t help but feel good for him.”
Preston, who is considering a professional career, took his first lead on No. 15 when Werkmeister played to bogey. At 18, he made a 12-foot birdie putt after hitting a wedge shot from a side-hill lie in the left rough to close out the match.
“It’s so great to win here at Oakland Hills,” Preston said. “I mean, the history here is amazing. To be a champion here – I can’t even get my head around that yet. It will take a while to sink in.”
In the morning semifinals, Werkmeister beat another Grand Rapids area golfer. Brian Hayward battled him for 19 holes before Werkmeister won with a birdie on No. 1.Preston meanwhile, topped his former college teammate, Wes Gates of Novi, 4 and 3. Gates, who is still a BGSU student and golfer, had a highlight shot of the morning. He made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole with a 5-iron shot from 201 yards. It was the third ace of his life, and second while playing golf with Preston.
Semi Finals Match Play Results:
Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood, def. Brian Hayward, Grand Rapids, 19 Holes
Drew Preston, Ada, def. Wesley Gates, Novi 4&3

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweetgrass Golf Club set for its 2012 Symetra Tour event next week

HARRIS, Mich. – An international field of 144 women golfers will descend on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next week to compete in the second Island Resort Championship, presented by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, June 29 – July 1. See photo of the course's island green par-3 above.
The 54-hole stroke-play Symetra Tour event has drawn professional golfers from 25 different countries and six continents to vie for a total $110,000 purse, from South Africa to Australia, Chile to Columbia, England to France, Norway to Japan, the Middle East to Thailand, and beyond.
“Several of the players from last year’s inaugural event have already graduated to the LPGA Tour,” says Susan Harris, co-chair and marketing director for the Island Resort & Casino, host site of the tournament. “Their spots have been filled with the next set of rising talent, ready to fight their way to the top.”
This is the seventh tournament of the Symetra Tour’s 2012 season, as Tour members play for the top 10 spots on the money list to win automatic entry to the LPGA Tour. Players to Watch Defending Champion Stephanie Kim will not be in the final field of 144, leaving the next generation of LPGA stars to capture the honors at Sweetgrass Golf Club, a Golfweek “America’s Best Courses You Can Play” layout.
Marquette High School graduate and Michigan State rising sophomore Carley Saint-Onge, four-time Upper Peninsula Division 1 Champion, has again received an amateur local exemption to compete in the event. Saint-Onge currently plays on the Michigan State golf team. She’ll be joined by two native Michiganders in the 2012 field, including Laura Bayaird of Grosse Ile, Britney Hamilton of Lake Orion – both Western Michigan University graduates. Former Michigan State graduates Allison Duncan and Aimee Neff will also be found on the Friday roster of players.
Wisconsites will cheer for Kenosha’s Carly Werwie, a Wisconsin-Madison graduate. On the international front, Australian Kristie Smith won the Tate and Lyle Players Championship last week, carding three bogeyless rounds. She’ll be in the Sweetgrass field, along with several players who have qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin directly following the Island Resort Championship. Among them are Sue Kim of Canada, Veronica Felibert of Venezuela, Lili Alvarez of Mexico, and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea.
“I was amazed at the number of under-par rounds I saw on the leaderboard last year,” said Sweetgrass Director of Golf Dave Douglas. “For those who love golf, you’ll enjoy watching the incredible talent in the field.”
A complete list of players in the field has been posted at Tickets are still available for the Island Resort Championship; $10 three-day passes can be purchased at the Island Resort & Casino Showroom or by calling 877-ISL-SHOW, or through several local non-profit organizations who keep the profits from their tickets sales. A complete list can be found at

Friday, June 15, 2012

Berritt Kelpin wins the Michigan Open with impressive performance

It was a record-setting and historic performance that won the Michigan Open this week.
Berritt Kelpin, a 22-year-old Kalamazoo golfer, plowed the field over at the 95th Michigan Open Championship presented by DTE. The recent University of Iowa graduate closed with a 4-under-par 68 Thursday for a resounding 23-under-par 265 tournament total at The Orchards Golf Club in Washington Township. It earned him an $8,000 first-place check as well as the coveted James D. Standish Jr. Trophy and a place in history. His eight-shot margin over runner-up Jeff Cuzzort, a Nationwide Tour player from Grosse Ile, matched the mark set in 1948 by Michigan Golf Hall of Fame legend Chick Harbert, who won the Michigan Open four times, won seven times on the PGA Tour, won the 1954 PGA National Championship and was a Ryder Cup captain.
“Probably a lot of it hasn’t sunk in,” Kelpin said. “It was my first pro event and I played so well and managed to tie that record. It’s kind of surreal right now, but it was a great week. I mean I played well the whole week.”
Andy Ruthkoski, the 2007 Michigan Open champion from Muskegon; mini-tour golfer Willie Mack III of Flint; and low amateur Brian Hayward, a Grand Rapids CPA, tied for third at 14-under-par 274. Clark Klaasen, a mini-tour player from Grand Rapids, was next after shooting a 65, the low round of the day, for 275. Cuzzort, who won $4,800 for second, had three bogeys to start his round, and said he let the nervous Kelpin off the hook.
“I could see he was nervous,” he said. “He had a double-bogey (No. 5 in the hazard), but I just never got anything going. Bogey the first three holes – that’s not what I wanted to do. It’s kind of opposite of what I needed to do to put pressure on.”
Kelpin said the help of his uncle, Greg Gagie, who caddied for him, was a critical factor, and he said he talked on the phone with his teacher, Charley Vandenberg of Thousand Oaks in Grand Rapids, each day of the week.
"I feel like talking with (Charlie) and having my uncle there to calm me down when the going got tough was big,” he said after making 29 birdies and an eagle during the four rounds. “I knew I could win, but I don’t think I really expected this in my first professional event.”
Kevin Helm, the executive director of the PGA, and Ron Dalby, owner of The Orchards, announced that the 2013 Michigan Open will also be played at The Orchards. Kelpin plans to play some mini-tour golf and prepare for PGA Tour Qualifying in the fall.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The North course at Oakland Hills Country Club set to host the 2012 Michigan Amateur

It's hardly "the other course."
But that's how the North course at Oakland Hills Country Club is essentially treated by most golfers. It hasn't hosted the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup or the PGA Championship like the South has. But club members and golf insiders know the North course is just as strong as its sister, albiet a little shorter and a little more forgiving.
Yet it will still be plenty of a challenge for players in the 101st Michigan Amateur, set for June 18-22. Randy Lewis, the Alma resident who played in The Masters this spring, will return to the course where he won his only Michigan Amateur, way back in 1992.
"It's too bad it's an alternate course to the South. It is one of the best courses in Michigan by far," Lewis said at a recent media day. "It should set up well for match play. There are a lot of good holes. You don't have to kill it (with the driver). It is all about where you place it (the ball)."
The par-70 design will play shorter than most Michigan Amateurs - at roughly 6,700 yards - but Golf Association of Michigan tournament setup man Ken Hartmann, the senior director of rules and competitions for the GAM, said it will give players all they can handle. Tricky slick greens - many are elevated - demand precision. The two par-5s are the course are no gimmees, either.
"No one is going to tear it up," he said about the two-day stroke play event that serves as qualifying for match play. "It is going to be a good test. If you get above the hole, it is going to be dicey."
Follow for day-to-day results.

The Orchards Golf Club set to host the 2012 Michigan Open

The 95th Michigan Open Championship presented by DTE Energy will return June 11-14, 2012 to The Orchards Golf Club in Washington Township.
The Orchards Golf Club is becoming known as metro Detroit's go-to site for tournament golf (outside of Oakland Hills Country Club, of course). The Orchards has hosted a number of Michigan PGA and Golf Association of Michigan events, and most notably was the site for the USGA 2002 National U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship won by current PGA Tour professional Ryan Moore. The picture is of the par-4 18th hole, which plays downhill and over a pond.

“The Orchards Golf Club is extremely pleased and honored to again host The Michigan Open in 2012," Orchards head professional Jeff Stalcup said in a statement. "The course presented a terrific challenge to the players at the 2011 Michigan Open, and we look forward to an even more competitive event this year. Having hosted the 2002 USGA National Amateur Public Links Championship and the 2011 Michigan Open, we are confident that The Orchards will again provide the venue that will result in lasting memories for the players and spectators."

The Michigan Open will feature 156 of the best amateur and professional golfers in Michigan. Randy Hutchison from Traverse City won the event last year with a 16-under par, 272 total, taking home $10,000 and giving him his first Michigan Open victory.