Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Lewis set to defend Michigan Amateur at Battle Creek
by Greg Johnson

Randy Lewis spent the early part of the spring worried about things away from golf.

The salesman for Total Petroleum found himself out of a job when Marathon Oil purchased Total, and well, the house needed a little work.

"I decided to do some work on the house because we plan to stay here, and at the same time look for a job," said Lewis, the defending champion of the Michigan Amateur Championship.

"I haven't had the clubs out yet, but I plan to do it soon. I have a busy golf summer planned actually. I hope to find a job where it's possible to continue my golf the way I like."

Lewis, a St. Louis, Mich., resident, plans to have his game ready by the time this year's Michigan Amateur rolls around June 20-24 at Battle Creek Country Club.

"I'll be there, and I hope my game is," he said. "I'm going to work on my short game, concentrate on it. I think I got away with some things in it last year because I spent so much time working on my long irons."

A strong short game is a must for those tackling Battle Creek, known for its large, indulating greens. Designed in 1919 by the noted Scotsman Willie Park Jr. (who also did Red Run, Flint GC and Meadowbrook) Battle Creek CC will play to some 6800 yards at a par-72. According to Assistant Professional Michael Ward, "Battle Creek is a traditional, classic course where players will often have the option of bump-and-run shots around the greens." Ward also says the course favors a consistent, straight driver. "There are a number of doglegs--both right and left--that demand accurate driving to set up the second shot to the green," said Ward who works for head pro Keith Mohan. If last year was any proof, Lewis has the putter and the driver to handle Battle Creek.

Over five rounds of golf in which he figured he was 17-under-par overall, Lewis last June won his second Amateur title at his favorite golf course in Michigan, Detroit Golf Club.

"I figured if I was ever going to win another one, Detroit was the place because I just love playing that course so much," he said.

Lewis, who won his first Amateur title in 1992 at Oakland Hills, slipped past defending champion Shawn Koch of Howell, 1-up, by winning the last two holes.

He birdied the par 5 17th by reaching in two shots and taking two putts, and then a tap-in par at 18 won the title because Koch has missed the green with an approach shot from a fairway bunker.

Lewis took special satisfaction in beating Koch, the runner-up in the 1998 Western Amateur, and a player with professional plans and potential.

"I think he's one of the best we've had come out of here in a long time," Lewis said. "He's also a nice young man, very respectful and he has a real appreciation for the game."

Lewis, 43, deflects praise aimed at him, but his record shows he is worthy. In addition to the two Michigan Amateur titles, he has also won a Michigan Medal Play title (1994), a Golf Association of Michigan title (1996), a Michigan Mid-Amateur title (1998) and a West Michigan Amateur title (1989).

His finest accomplishment might be finishing second in the U.S. Mid-Amateur of 1996, however. Lewis lost 3 and 2 to John "Spider" Miller in Hartford, Conn., and was just a few shots away from the major national title and the Masters Tournament invitation that comes with it.

"I struggled with losing for a long time, though I tried not to," Lewis said. "I put it behind me finally though. I didn't want that to be my identity in golf I guess. I've been successful in Michigan, and

I love playing here. I"m staying, and I'll keep trying to play well."

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