Ryan Johnson wins Michigan Amateur
2015 Michigan Amateur champ Ryan Johnson (GAM photo)
2015 Michigan Amateur champ Ryan Johnson (GAM photo)
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Ryan Johnson called it the highlight of amateur golf for him.

The 30-year-old club-fitter at Carl’s Golfland outlasted Battle Creek’s Kory Roberts 3 and 1 in the championship match of the 104th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Miles of Golf/Kendall Academy/Titleist Saturday at Plum Hollow Country Club.

“I started playing golf when I was 10, started playing in the Michigan Amateur at 16 and this is why I play competitive golf, to do this,” said Johnson, a Novi resident who grew up in New Boston and last year won the GAM Championship, his first major amateur title.

“To get this win on top of winning the GAM last year is really special. I didn’t have any expectations this week. I wasn’t playing that well. I shot 78 on Monday, but then shot 70 on Tuesday, made match play and it was a day-to- day thing.”

Johnson avoided being the next upset victim of 17-year-old Austin Jenner of West Branch in the morning semifinal by escaping with a 1-up victory on the final hole of the match. Roberts, likewise battled Brett Quitiquit of Highland for 19 holes before getting the semifinal win.

Both players admitted fatigue set in during the championship match. They routinely missed fairways with tee shots after hitting the majority of them through the week and scrambling for par became critical.

“Ryan made the big par putts he needed to make, the ones I missed,” said Roberts, a 22- year-old Northwood University golfer. “My tee shots were something I could count on all week, and when I lost control of them it got tough. Hitting the greens is a challenge from this rough, especially hitting over all the trees.”

Johnson, a Type 1 Diabetic since high school, said it wasn’t a factor. He was simply worn out from eight rounds of golf in five days.

“Just too many holes of golf and my legs are just gone right now,” he said. “The upper body took over and the shots showed it. I had to scramble, and I made some big par putts.”

A par save at No. 10 tied the match, a par save at No. 12 put him 1-up and then a par save at 14 put him 2-up. He won the 17th hole despite tree trouble with another par because Roberts was in the trees twice. That closed out the match 3 and 1.

“At that point, I just wanted to keep making pars,” Johnson said. “You want to make birdies, but you are so tired that pars become a real challenge.”

Johnson was elated to accept the Staghorn Trophy that dates to the early days of the 104- year-old tournament.

“Some of the names on it are amazing,” he said. “And Plum Hollow has a great history, too. Being part of that is pretty cool.”

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