Polanski & Borowiec Win Insurance Classic
by Gary Kalahar
Experience is vital when it comes to playing in big golf tournaments.
Or is it?
Stephen Polanski is evidence that it is.
But just as Polanski was running away with the Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic state tournament, Vince Hamo was proving otherwise.
Polanski, two weeks removed from a march to the finals of the Michigan Amateur, was easily the class of the junior field at Cascades Golf Course. His rounds of 70 and 68 for a 6-under-par 138 total left him seven strokes clear.
Hamo, a 14-year-old who has yet to play even a high school match, earned the sixth and final spot in the national tournament when he won a sudden-death playoff.
Polanski, entering his fourth year as the No. 1 player at Livonia Stevenson High School, lists Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield as his home course.
A summer full of golf tournaments has Polanski traveling throughout the state and beyond.
He's now headed to the national tournament in August at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond, Oklahoma_site of the 1988 PGA Championship_along with Flint's Hamo, Justin Sokol (Bloomfield Hills), John Koskinen (Baraga), Dan Urban (Cedar), Chad Tate (Cass City), Jennifer Borowiec (South Lyon) and Enid Gage (Wyoming).
Polanski made only one bogey all day and was the only player to break par on an ideal day.
"I play a ton," said Polanski, who won the same tournament last year. "I have a big advantage over these guys. I play so much and travel so much."
His dad, John, who accompanied him to Jackson, keeps the calendar and organizes the travel plans.
Polanski, 17, had just returned from an event in Wisconsin, and he left Jackson for another tournament in Chicago.
He was the second-youngest player to ever reach the finals of the Michigan Amateur.
"That gave me a lot of confidence," Polanski said.
This will be his third trip to the national tournament, a 72-hole event where he has made the 36-hole cut in each of his two previous appearances.
"I always play well in this," Polanski said. "The national is a good time. These guys treat us good."
Polanski was a gem of consistency. His nine-hole scores: 1-under 36 and 2-under 35 on the front nine; 1-under 34 and 2-under 33 on the back.
"I like the golf course," Polanski said, "The front nine is a scoring nine, and the back you're just trying to keep it in play. I played them both good.
"I thought I would play the front better, since I hit the ball far and I thought I would birdie more of the par-5s."
Instead, he picked up just one birdie all day on the front side's trio of three-shotters.
He got into red figures with a 10-foot putt for birdie on No. 5 in the first round. He birdied the par-5 10th by keeping his drive to the left and firing a 5-iron to the green.
His only bogey of the day came at No. 13 in the first round, when he couldn't recover from a bad drive. A 7-iron to three feet on the par-3 16th brought his last birdie of the round.
The second time around, Polanski made 14 pars and four birdies. He chipped to one foot on No. 1, knocked a wedge to four feet on No. 8, repeated his first-round effort on No. 10 and sank a 20-footer from the fringe on No. 14, the only putt of significant length he made all day.
Hamo won the playoff with Midland's Erick Hayes with a par on the first extra hole after they both finished at 147.
It was the first time in the state tournament for Hamo, who will be a freshman at Flint Powers High School.
The other sub-par rounds in the 63-player field besides Polanski's were a 2-under 70 by Koskinen and 1-under 71s by Sokol, Urban and Hamo.
Borowiec won the 17-player girls division with a 4-over-par 77, hanging on despite bogeys on the last three holes after shooting even-par on the front nine. Gage shot 78 for the other national tournament spot for the girls, three strokes ahead of third-place Kara Hutton of Grandville.
Jennifer Borowiec, South Lyon 77
Enid Gage, Wyoming 78
Kara Hutton, Grandville 81
Momoko Sone, Saline 82
Erin Borowiec, South Lyon 82
Erica Bieniek, Scottville 84
Sarah Martin, Grosse Ile 84
Kate Bradley, Wyoming 85
Megan Dunigan, Jackson 88
Mandy McConnell, Grand Blanc 90
Steven Polanski, Livonia 138
Justin Sokol, Bloomfield Hills 145
John Koskinen, Baraga 145
Dan Urban, Cedar 146
Chad Tate, Cass City 146
Erick Hayes, Midland 147
Vince Hamo, Flint 147
Andrew Walton, Ypsilanti 148
Todd Tighe, Traverse City 149
Eric Jorgensen, Big Rapid 149
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