EAST LANSING – Vibhav Alokam of Ypsilanti came back after being a runner-up a year ago and won, and Lauren Timpf of Macomb triumphed for the second consecutive year in the 5th GAM 14 & Under Match Play Championship at Woodside Golf Course Wednesday.
“It feels amazing,” Alokam said after topping Max VanderMolen of Richland 2 and 1 in the championship match to win a Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) tournament for the first time.
“I have been a runner-up the last couple of years, so it feels good to bring it home.”
Timpf, who turned back Mia Melendez of Ann Arbor 1-up in the championship match, said winning the title for a second time means a lot to her.
“I love playing in the GAM tournaments and to come out here and win against all these great competitors and a great field is a great feeling.”
A field of 32 boys and 16 girls played in the tournament that combined stroke play and match play. After 12 holes of stroke-play qualifying Tuesday morning, players were seeded into match-play flights to play three matches against other players of similar ability levels through Wednesday afternoon.
Alokam, who beat Cooper Rietsma of Ada 3 and 2 in the morning semifinal, called his play solid.
“I drove it in play and I hit it decently on the green and some putts fell, some didn’t, but overall I played well and we got the job done,” he said.
VanderMolen reached the final with a 1-up semifinal win over Connor Fox of Lake Orion.
Alokam, an Ann Arbor Skyline High School student, said he hit approach shots close to the hole on holes 2, 3 and 4 in the nine-hole final match to build an early lead on VanderMolen.
“I was (conceded) the putts on 3 and 4,” he said. “I hit really good shots in. It helped me get momentum and I just carried it on.”
Alokam said he loves the match play format.
“It’s extremely fun because I like to play a little aggressive,” he said. “I'm a risk-reward type of guy so when that pays off, I usually win.”
Timpf, who recently played in the overall division to win the Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Championship, earned her way to the title match with a 4 and 2 win over Avery Manning of Dexter in the morning semifinal.
Meanwhile, Melendez who won the 14-and-under division of the Girls’ Junior State Amateur, reached the final after turning back KT Leinwand of Kalamazoo in 12 holes.
Timpf said she started the championship match with a birdie on the par 4 No. 1, and eagle on the par 5 No. 2 hole and a birdie on the par 4 No. 3 hole.
“In these nine-hole matches there’s no room for mistakes,” she said. “I was able to get away with a few mistakes this time because I had the lead. Mia is a very clutch player and she can get up-and-down if she has to and she will sink big putts. She came back. It was a tough match.”
A Lutheran North High School student, Timpf said match play is her favorite golf format.
“It like it because it doesn’t matter what you did on the previous hole,” she said. “It’s about what you are doing then and the next shot. You have to be able to perform at any time and I like that challenge.”
Fox and Rietsma tied in the consolation match of the boys’ championship flight, and Leinwand topped Manning 1-up in the girls’ championship flight consolation match. In all, six flight winners were determined.