GROSSE ILE, Mich. (Sept. 16, 2014) — Back pain flared up after he hit his tee shot on the third hole, but Ian Harris of Bloomfield Hills fought it off and held on to win the 28th GAM Senior Championship presented by Sullivan Golf & Travel Tuesday at Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club.
“I got to my ball after that tee shot and I seriously didn’t know if I could go on, but I started thinking this is the Golf Association of Michigan Senior Championship and I’m going to keep going,” he said after winning the GAM Senior title for the second time in three years and becoming the first golfer to ever win the GAM Senior and the Michigan PGA Senior Open in the same year.
Harris, 61 and a tennis professional at Franklin Athletic Club in Southfield, shot a closing 3-over-par 74 for an even-par 142 total, and won by two shots over four-time winner and defending champion Bill Zylstra of Dearborn Heights, who shot a closing 74 for 144 on a rain-soaked Grosse Ile course that played long through the final round.
Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc shot 72 for 145 and third place, and Lee Lambarth of Saline shot 73 for 148 and fourth. Fred Djurdjev of Troy, who shot 73, and Dan Longeway of Northville, who shot 77, tied at 149 to round out the top five.
Ironically, Harris said after accepting the Gus Cosmos Trophy that his physical conditioning has been directly responsible for his golf success as a senior player.
“I’ve always been a practice guy, I love working at the game,” he said. “I take lessons, but by far the biggest thing is my conditioning is far superior to what it was. This back thing is probably a muscle issue. For four or five holes it didn’t bother me in the middle of the round, but then it came back again.”
He said his competitors and playing partners Zylstra and Longeway deserved a thank you.
“They took the ball out of the hole for me a few times, fixed my ball marks and they didn’t have to do that, but they did,” he said. “My strategy became taking a longer club and swinging easier to make contact and just get it on the green. I knew on the green I would be fine because my touch on the greens was good all week.”
Earlier this year he became just the third amateur to win the Michigan PGA Senior Open, and with Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Jack Van Ess is the only golfer to have won both the Senior Open and the GAM Senior. Van Ess did it in two different years though.
“Jack Van Ess is a legend, and let’s face it, and I’m not taking anything away from the other guys in this field, but when you finish ahead of Bill Zylstra and Greg Reynolds in a senior tournament in this state, you have accomplished something,” he said. “It’s meaningful to me.”
Tom Dyl of Trenton, a Grosse Ile G&CC member, won the Super Seniors (age 65-plus) with a closing 76 for 151. The 66-year-old owner of Rand Environmental Services Inc., topped former Port Huron resident Jim Wirtz, the 2001 champion who shot 75 for 155.
Rounding out the top five in the super seniors were David McTear of Bedford, who shot 80 for 157, George Dillon, who shot 78 for 158 and defending Super Seniors champion John French, who shot 78 for 158.
The tournament was originally scheduled for Sept. 8-9, but a Sept. 5 storm caused extensive tree damage and forced the tournament to be moved to a week later on the schedule.
View results for Golf Association of Michigan Senior Championship