Amateur golfers take to Birmingham Country Club for GAM Championship
August 14, 2013
Scott Strickland’s caddy, David Enderby, just had that feeling before the final round of the 92nd Golf Association of Michigan championship Aug. 6 at Birmingham Country Club.
Strickland, a 2001 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood graduate, sat three strokes off the lead, having hit the ball well the previous 36 holes, but not sinking any putts.
“Yesterday, when nothing fell and he wasn’t pleased about it, I said, ‘Hey, we’re saving it for tomorrow, and you’re going to go all Johnny Miller on me,’” Enderby said, referring to Miller’s 63 in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open, giving him the championship.
Strickland was close, firing an 8-under-par 64 to win the title with a 208 total in the 54-hole event. Casey Baker, of Ann Arbor, was second, six shots behind.
“If he had made that putt on the last hole, it would have been 63,” Enderby said with a smile.
Strickland said it was an honor to win the prestigious event.
“From kind of the first hole on, the breaks were going my way. I got a nice bounce on No. 1, where it bounced over the front bunker and rolled up to a foot for eagle. That was a good start, and then I hit it to six or eight inches on No. 2 for birdie,” said Strickland, who finished one stroke from tying the course record.
“It’s one of those things where, if you can clear your mind of all the other stuff that’s going on and just react to the target, that’s usually when I play my best. That’s what I tried to do today.”
The tournament was played over two days, with 36 holes on the first, with 84 players in the field. The final round was cut to 34 golfers. Overall, 365 golfers tried to make it into the event in qualifying tournaments earlier this summer.
Tournament Director Ken Hartmann said it’s the second biggest tournament the GAM puts on every year, only behind the Michigan Amateur, which was played for the 102nd time this past June.
From collegiate players to career amateurs, the consensus was that the field was very strong.
Max Kollin, a 2012 North Farmington graduate and former Michigan High School Athletic Association state champion, played in this tournament for the first time.
He shot a 225 total to finish tied for 26th.
“There’s a lot of good players out here,” the soon-to-be sophomore at Indiana University said. “A lot of people doubt the northern talent, but there are a lot of good players out here, and I think it showed in the scores.”
Royal Oak resident Michael Marks echoed those sentiments.
“I would compare this field to a pretty standard (collegiate) Division 1 field,” the 2011 Oakland University graduate said.
Marks shot a 222 total, including the low score of the second round (second 18 on the opening day) with a 68, to finish 20th.
“This is a great tournament,” he said. “It’s always on good golf courses. It’s very well run and the course setup is tough, but fair. That’s all you can ask. I love this tournament.”
For John Quigley, a St. Clair Shores resident, this marked the return to tournament play after 10 years.
“It was nostalgic. I’ve always been competitive, just even playing with the guys at the club, so it was nice being out here,” he said.
Quigley, who graduated from Sterling Heights High in 2002 and played collegiate golf in Florida, finished tied for 16th with a 220 total.
“I don’t know if it’s going to kick anything off again,” he said, referring to a competitive career. “I still have family to attend to and I work a lot, but it’s been fun getting back out here.”
For full results of the tournament, visit www.gam.org.