ROYAL OAK, Mich. (August 5, 2014) – New Boston’s Ryan Johnson looked around at his family, his friends, a few co-workers and golfers he has chased in tournaments for almost 20 years and his voice cracked.
“I know a ton of these guys and for me to come out on top just means so much to me,” the 29-year-old golf club-fitter said after accepting the K.T. Keller Trophy as champion of the 93rd GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Red Run Golf Club Tuesday.
“This shows I can compete with the best golfers in Michigan and it’s really my first big win other than college events. I came in feeling good, striking it well. I put two good rounds together yesterday and today I kind of validated it.”
Johnson’s validation was a 4-under-par 68 despite a three-hour lightning delay before play and an additional hour delay with just three holes remaining to play. It gave the former Wayne State University golfer an 8-under-par 208 total, two shots clear of charging Nathan Clark of Charlotte, who shot 67 for 210.
Casey Baker of Novi, a two-time GAM Champion who like Johnson works for presenting sponsor Carl’s Golfland, shot 70 to land with three other golfers at 212 and tied for third.
Also at 212 were Oakland University golfer Evan Bowser of Dearborn, who shot 71, Princeton University golfer Alex Dombrowski of Gaylord, who shot 70, and Eastern Michigan University golfer Josh Heinze, who shot 71.
Randy Lewis of Alma and Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood each shot 69 to finish next at 215, and University of Toledo golfer Otto Black of Pinckney and Robert Matthiesen of Mason each shot 72 for even-par 216.
Johnson, who started the day with a three-shot lead and had a previous best finish in the GAM Championship of second in 2009, said it was a new experience for him.
“To go out with the lead and maintain it means a lot, especially after going to sleep thinking about it and having nerves when I got here this morning,” he said.
He made a birdie on the No. 1 hole to start his final round after the three-hour delay, and bounced back from his only bogey on No. 10 with a birdie on No. 11.
“The birdie on one settled me a bit with the nerves, and the birdie on 11 was huge because you can start to think you are slipping a bit at that point,” he said.
Clark, a 35-year-old financial advisor said he finally got his putter going.
“I’ve been putting myself in position to score like that almost every round the last few weeks and finally did it,” he said. “I just wanted to make as many birdies as I could and not make a mistake. With (Johnson) having a three-shot lead I knew there was a lot of ground to make up.”
Johnson and Clark lauded the Red Run course, a 1914 Willie Park Jr. design, with a storied history as a tournament site including hosting the GAM Championship seven times (1921, 1924, 1929, 1949, 1968, 1981 and 2014) and the Michigan Amateur Championship twice (1995, 2007).
“Red Run is a great host for this championship, the GAM runs great tournaments and I have the support of my family and friends here,” Johnson said. “It’s a special day for me and wanted I’ve tried to make happen for a long time."
-story, photo courtesy of Golf Association of Michigan
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