Summer Champions Reflect Superior Quality of Golf Played in Michigan
By Kelly Hill
The Summer of 2002 was an unusually busy one for tournaments in Michigan as the state hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and the NCAA Division II women's national championship. The Michigan PGA maintained its usual slate of major events and a recent high school graduate won the Golf Association of Michigan's premier event, the Michigan Amateur Championship.
Here's a quick look at the summer's champions:
Hebert wins fourth straight Open
Scott Hebert, 34, won the Michigan Open by two strokes over amateur Stephen Polanski. Hebert, who is an assistant pro at Sunnybrook Country Club in Jenison, finished the tournament, played on the par-72 Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, a record 14-under par. The lowest previous Open total on The Bear was 11-under, set by Hebert in 1997 and matched last year. Hebert has now won the Michigan Open four years in a row and five times in the last six years. He is only the third player to win the Open as many as five times. Al Watrous won the event a record six times, while Randy Erskine also has won it five times. Hebert has played in the Michigan Open seven times. He finished second, by one stroke, to Steven Brady in the 1996 Open and lost to J.R. Roth on the third hole of a playoff in 1998.
"It's unbelievable to me," Hebert said, "coming up here and beating everybody and winning. Itís a good feeling. On this golf course, if I play well, I have a chance to win. The pressure was not to try to win four in a row, the pressure was to win this one."
Polanski, 21, of Livonia, an amateur who is a junior on the golf team at Texas Christian University, put plenty of pressure on Hebert. Polanski opened play in the final round six strokes behind Hebert but had closed that gap to only one stroke with two holes left to play. At the par-3 17th hole, Hebert holed a 50-foot bunker shot to double his lead over Polanski.
"Fortunately I had a big lead going into (the final round)," Hebert said. "I got lucky when I holed that shot on 17. I could see that Steve was dejected but he played well, he really did." Polanski has now finished second to Hebert two years in a row.
Recent high-schooler wins state amateur crown
Recent East Lansing High School graduate Korey Mahoney, 18, won the 91st Michigan Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Jackson when he defeated 19-year-old Michigan State University sophomore Andrew Ruthkoski 2-up in the youngest championship match in the history of the tournament. In 1998, 21-year-old Shawn Koch of Howell defeated then 17-year-old Stephen Polanski. Mahoney and Ruthkoski were making their first appearances in the Michigan Amateur Championship.
Mahoney, a two-time all-state golfer at East Lansing, will play his collegiate golf at Eastern Michigan University. He trailed Ruthkoski, who lives in Muskegon, by one hole with three holes remaining in the title match. Mahoney, however, holed out a sand wedge from 85 yards on the par-4 16th hole to even the match, then went 1-up with a par on the par-3 17th hole. He also won the final hole of the match, when he drained a seven-foot birdie putt.
"Any tournament I play in I come in with the thought that I can play good enough to win," Mahoney said. "I was not putting that well during stroke play, but once we got to match play I was rolling in putts from everywhere and my ball striking was excellent all week."
German wins Grand Rapids Futures Classic
Miriam Nagl of Berlin, a non-exempt LPGA member, won the second-annual event at Boulder Creek Golf Club after a career-best 9-under 63 in the final round. She finished 14-under and beat Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico and Christina Kim of San Jose. "I had no idea I was leading until the final hole," Nagl said. "In my mind the course was my competitor, not the players."
Ochoa wins Ann Arbor Futures Classic
A week after finishing second to Nagl in Grand Rapids, Lorena Ochoa rebounded to win the Futures Tour event at Lake Forest Golf Club. She finished with an 8-under 208 while Christina Kim was second, one stroke off the pace.
Florida Southern women maintain dominance of NCAA II
Florida Southern College won its third consecutive NCAA Division II Women's Golf Championship in record fashion at The Meadows Golf Club on the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State University. The FSC Moccasins posted a team record 1,234 strokes in the 72-hole tournament and won by a record 74 strokes over runner-up Barry University of Miami Shores, Fla. While FSC broke its own record of 1,250 strokes that it posted in winning last yearís national championship, the largest previous margin of victory was 26 strokes when Lynn topped Rollins in 1997.
The Moccasins also swept the top four spots in the individual standings, with sophomore Jana Peterkova claiming her second consecutive individual national championship. Peterkova, a native of the Czech Republic who plans to attend LPGA qualifying school this fall, posted a 14-over 306 to beat her senior teammate, Cramington, England native Lisa Ball by two strokes. Another FSC sophomore, Sarah Coleson, finished third, with a 17-over 309 and yet another Moccasin sophomore, Rachel Bell,
finished fourth, at 20-over. Bell shared the fourth spot with Longwood College freshman Amanda Diamond, who shot an NCAA Division II record 2-under 71 in Thursdayís second round.
"They did well. It was neat to see them play so well despite the elements," said Florida Southern coach Robbie Davis, whose Moccasins played the final round in cloudy, windy conditions with the temperature in the mid-40s. "To play exceptionally well in it was great." The Moccasins held an 18-stroke lead midway through the tournament, increased that lead by 31 strokes in the third round and by another 25 strokes in the final round. "We committed to three things this week: to have fun, to be decisive over every shot and to not let anything bother us," Davis said. "We did that."
Couples the big winner at Par-3 Shootout
Fred Couples did not sleep well following the opening round of the Par-3 Shootout at Treetops, since he missed a three-foot putt worth $140,000 in the opening nine holes of the fourth-annual event on the Threetops course. He redeemed himself, however, in the second and final round by recording three of the four birdies posted in the final round and earning $410,000. Couples collected $280,000 when he birdied the 148-yard 14th hole and then validated that victory with a par on the 172-yard 15th. In the skins event that also featured Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, a player who wins a hole must validate that win by winning or matching the low score on the following hole. Couples won another $80,000 with a birdie on the 139-yard final hole. Players need not validate a victory on the final hole of the 18-hole event.
Couples, 43, won an additional $50,000 by being closest to the pin on five of the 18 holes played. "I had a chance (in the first round) and I had a long night," Couples said. ìIn a skins game, though, it really only takes one good thing to happen. It was a good day, a lot of fun for me and tough for everybody else."
The other three players collected only money awarded for being closest to the pin. Mickelson won $60,000, Trevino won $50,000 and Palmer won $20,000. Palmer, 72, won the 143-yard 16th hole with a six-foot birdie putt, but failed to validate his win on the following hole, when Couples rolled in a birdie putt.
Aussie wins first Senior Tour title at Ford Sr. Players Championship
Australian Stewart Ginn, 53, won the season's final major on the Senior PGA Tour when he went 6-under in the final round and finished 14-under at TPC Michigan. he edged Jim Thorpe by a stroke. Thorpe shot a 7-under 65 in the final round but Ginn managed eight birdies on Sunday to win the event.
Washington teen wins U.S. Amateur Public Links
Ryan Moore, 19, of Puyallup, Wash. won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at The Orchards Golf Club with a 10 and 9 win over Lee Williamson, 23, of Crawfordsville, Ind. "I've played in quite a few USGA championships," Moore said. "It feels good to finally win one."
Allard wins his third Michigan PGA
Ken Allard hit a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Ron Beurmann and John DalCorobbo to win the third Michigan PGA Championship of his career, but his first since 1991. Allard, 53, shot a 5-under 67 on the Cedar River course at Shanty Creek Resort in the final round to go 6-under for the tournament and force the playoff with Beurmann, 42, of the Country Club of Jackson and DalCorobbo, 37, of MSU's Forest Akers Golf Club in East Lansing. Allard first won the Michigan PGA Championship in 1989. "The first two were nice but at my age, to be able to compete with these guys is great," said Allard, who is the head professional at Wabeek Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. Allard knew almost as soon as he hit it that his birdie putt on the second playoff hole was going in the cup. "It was going in all the way, but five or six feet from the hole I could really see that it was in, said Allard." MG
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