Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golfer and Auburn Hills Oakland Christian squad end season as state champs

By: Christian Davis | Rochester Post | Published June 28, 2011

 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior Aaron Knutson, left, stands with coach Marc White after winning the Division 3 individual golf state championship June 17-18. On the same weekend, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian bested the field in the D-4 final.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior Aaron Knutson, left, stands with coach Marc White after winning the Division 3 individual golf state championship June 17-18. On the same weekend, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian bested the field in the D-4 final.

Photo provided by Marc White

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It’s almost fitting that Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior Aaron Knutson won the Division 3 golf state championship with a clutch putt.

The Lake Orion resident said the short stick had been his biggest challenge all season long, but he found his stroke June 17-18 on the campus of Michigan State University.

Knutson sunk a 35-footer for birdie to beat Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Sam Weatherhead on the first playoff hole.

“I was kind of surprised, because I was having so many putting issues earlier in the year. So to have a long one go in, especially in a playoff, it was surprising,” he said.

Knutson has been in three playoffs this year, splitting the first two, and coach Marc White knew his golfer could handle the pressure.

“I’ve had the pleasure to watch him grow, and Aaron is an exceptionally gifted golfer. He wants to be good, works hard at being good, and has shown over and over again that he responds to pressure and wants to be a team leader,” White said. “You don’t see that very often in high school players.”

In the final, Knutson shot 68-72 for a 4-under 140.

“I came in with a few goals. The first goal was to take our team in the top five, and for me, I wanted to play well and win states,” Knutson said, as Prep finished tied for fourth as a team.

Knutson entered the tournament with a 73.5 18-hole scoring average, which broke the school record. He said his accomplishment sunk in hours after he sunk the putt. He’s added that he’s looking forward to playing as the defending champion next season.

“The first goal is to get the team back to states, that’s always the first goal, and then the second goal is to repeat,” he said. “That would be the best thing that I could do.”


Fantastic finish
Though it’s one of the smallest programs in the state, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian proved to be arguably the best.

The Lancers won the Division 4 state title June 17-18 at Grand Valley State University.

Oakland Christian shot a combined 622, which was 11 shots better than second-place Ann Arbor Greenhills.

Earlier in the season against schools much larger, the Lancers won the Division 1 Oakland County Tournament.

“(The county tournament) really feels better now that we won states,” coach Randy Johnson said. “Now, both really feel big.”

The Lancers stormed out to a seven-stroke lead after day one.

“We felt like we knew what we needed to do on the second day,” he said. “Now, we didn’t have to watch other people. Just play our game, and if we shoot around the same scores, we’ll be fine.”

For the tournament, Zach Preuss shot 151 and finished fourth individually; Tyler Coyne carded 155 and finished eighth; Nick Vanbiesbrouck tallied 157; John VanNoord fired 160; and Paul Klemme finished with 168.

Vanbiesbrouck is the team’s lone senior, meaning the Lancers should again be contenders next season.

The loss of Vanbiesbrouck’s leadership, however, will be felt greatly.

Johnson said in a tournament earlier this season that was being played in some inclement weather, the senior picked up VanNoord, a freshman, and took him to the course before their tee time to go over how to hit shots in the wind.

“That’s how Nick was … (he) just raises the standard of golf,” the coach said.
 

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