VandenBerg to defend Michigan Amateur Championship
His work as the chief investment officer for the Greenleaf Trust in Kalamazoo may limit Kevin VandenBerg's opportunities to play golf this summer, but the defending Michigan Amateur Champion plans to defend his championship June 19-23 at Flint Golf Club. VandenBerg, 34, won the 2000 state amateur title at Battle Creek Country Club. After finishing the tournament's two rounds of stroke play tied for 48th, as was his eventual championship opponent John Kosinen of Baraga, VandenBerg defeated Raymond Ensley and Steve Nichols to achieve his goal of advancing to the Sweet 16. He then beat Brian Coon, 5-and-4, to achieve his other goal of winning one more match after achieving the Sweet 16.
"My goal at the amateur last year was to have fun and whatever happened, happened," VandenBerg said. "I wanted to get to the Sweet 16, and then to win one more match. You have to keep your goals simple. You don't have to have great goals. It's golf, go out and play; it's not the end of the world."
VandenBerg defeated University of Michigan golfer Andy Matthews to advance to the Michigan Amateur's Final Four. He then defeated former state amateur champ Randy Lewis of Alma to advance to the finals against Kosinen. VandenBerg eventually won the Michigan Amateur Championship when he knocked in a sand wedge from 120 yards on the final hole.
"One thing that match play does is that it gives everyone the possibility of winning," "VandenBerg said. "If you get in the finals of match play, anyone can win. It's a different game when you play hole by hole, because you can take more chances."
VandenBerg may have to take a few more chances at the 2001 Michigan Amateur Championship because he has never played the Flint Golf Club course. "Something that has come with maturity is course management," said VandenBerg, who is 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds. "I can hit the ball a long way, so I used to get up on the tee and swing away with the driver. But now I realize that you have to put yourself in a position to hit your second shot."
Maturity, and a consequential relaxed approach to golf, are what VandenBerg credits for the improvement of his game over the past few years. "Honestly, it's focusing on maturity, and then going out and having fun. With age, I have found out that you go out and let it happen," he said. "You can't worry about things. Once a shot or a hole is done, it's done; let it go. That is an attitude that a lot of people can benefit from. You‚ve got to let it go."
A member of Gull Lake Country Club, VandenBerg usually plays three rounds each week. He took up golf when he was five years old and living in Florida. After returning to Michigan, VandenBerg was an all-state golfer at Mattawan High School and was a two-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) champion while at Kalamazoo College. VandenBerg now is ready to complete an MBA course of study at Western Michigan University. He is engaged to Kelly Smith, but a wedding date has not been set.
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