GROSSE POINTE FARMS
– Andrew Walker had no idea he was setting a 36-hole stroke play qualifying
scoring record or that he would be getting a crash course on the history of
six-time Michigan Amateur champion Chuck Kocsis.
“It’s pretty amazing
I set a record, and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished the last two
days,” said the 19-year-old Michigan State University golfer from Battle Creek
who received the Chuck Kocsis Medalist Trophy Wednesday at the 107th Michigan
Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
“It means a lot to me. It was a big goal of
mine to perform well this week and being the low man in stroke play is
something I’m proud I accomplished. It will give me confidence through the rest
of the week.”
Walker shot a 5-under 66 in the second round
of stroke play qualifying at Country Club of Detroit for a two-day record-setting
total of 11-under 131, medalist honors and the No. 1 seed in the 64-golfer
bracket for match play.
He was six shots
clear of the second-place finisher Dan Ellis, who shot 68 for 5-under 137 and is
also one of his golf coaches at Michigan State.
The cut to the low
64 golfers for match play fell at 150 where nine golfers played off for the
final four spots in the field.
The No. 64 spot went to 2008 Michigan Amateur
champion and former Spartan Jimmy Chestnut of Royal Oak, who will meet Walker
in the first match Thursday morning at 7:15 a.m. Winners in the morning move on
to the round of 32 in the afternoon to determine a “Sweet 16.”
Walker’s 131 showing
in the first two days eclipsed the previous 36-hole stroke play score of 10-under
132 set by Joe Juszczyk of Dearborn Heights in 2009 at Spring Meadows Country
Club in Linden. His second-round 66 featured a bogey-free 32 on the back nine
with birdies on three of the last four holes.
The first of those
birdies, at the short par 4 No. 15 (360 yards), featured what he called his
shot of the day. From the front side of a fairway bunker he hit an 89-yard
wedge shot to 10-feet above the hole and made the birdie putt.
“I had a big lip in
front of me, it looked tough and it was tough, but I pulled it off and that was
big for me,” he said. “Coming into the final stretch and being able to hit that
shot after an errant tee shot set up a good finish. I hit some good shots
today, but my putter was great again. I feel like my game has really started
coming together and it is the putter that is making it happen.”
Walker, whose glossy
junior golf resume includes qualifying for the starting field in the U.S.
Amateur at age 14, being an AJGA All-American and twice a GAM Junior Golfer of
the Year, said he hasn’t played a lot of match play and has never been the top
“Match play is a
completely different monster, I know that,” he said. “I will try to detach
myself from my score. As much as I already do that, you really have to do it in
match play. Everything starts even again.”
Ellis, an assistant
to Casey Lubahn at Michigan State, said it was great to see Walker have success
through the first two days.
“He has put the work
in,” he said. “He’s smiling and he deserves it because he’s earned it.”
Ellis said the next
three days of match play turn the tournament into a marathon.
“I hope my body is
ready for it,” he said. “Maybe I will get to see Andrew (in a match) in the
next few days. It’s great to get into match play. It gets physical now and is a
real-deal state championship.”
Ben Smith of Novi, a
Georgia Tech golfer and the winner of the last two Michigan Junior Amateur
championships, shot 70 for 139 and the third seed. Jake Kneen of White Lake, who last week won the Michigan Open Championship and is a recent Oakland University graduate, shot 70 for 141, as did Donnie Trosper of Canton, who is in the process of transferring from the University of Central Florida to Michigan State.
-Greg Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org