2015 GAM Championship winner Mitchell White (GAM photo)
LANSING, Mich. — Muskegon’s Mitchell White rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a three-golfer playoff to win the 94th Golf Association of Michigan Championship presented by Miles of Golf/Kendall Academy/Titleist at Country Club of Lansing Tuesday.
White, 18, a graduate of Mona Shores High School and headed to Grand Valley State in the fall, topped defending champion and reigning Michigan Amateur champion Ryan Johnson of Novi and Indiana University golfer Max Kollin of Farmington in the playoff.
The trio just missed birdie putts on No. 18, the first hole of the sudden-death playoff, but White didn’t miss when he got his chance for another birdie on No. 16, the second playoff hole.
“I tend to like left to right putts and it was uphill so I could be more aggressive, and I made a good stroke and it went in,” said White, who is the youngest winner since 2004. “I’m in shock. There are so many great players in this field, guys I used to caddy for when I was younger. Honestly, this is a dream come true to win this tournament.”
Monday’s first round of what was scheduled as a 54-hole event was suspended by heavy rain and flooding in the Lansing area. It was continued Tuesday morning and the championship was trimmed to a 36-hole tournament.
White finished up his first round with a 68, and then birdied his last hole in the second round for a 69 and 137. It tied Johnson, a 30-year-old golf club fitter for Carl’s Golfland who had raced out front with a 65 and followed it with a 72, and Kollin, who like White shot 68-69.
Four golfers finished at 138, one out of the playoff. They included Joe Hooks of Commerce Township, who shot 70 to close, Eastern Michigan University golfer Kyle Rodes of Plymouth, who shot 70, Michigan State assistant golf coach Dan Ellis of Traverse City and Michigan State golfer Josh Heinze of Canton, who each shot 71s.
Mitchell said he had a second place in the Kent County Amateur, but missed the cut at the Michigan Amateur and lost in the first round of match play in the Michigan Junior Amateur.
“The summer was going along, but I didn’t have a notch under my belt and now I have a big one and it will give me so much confidence going into college golf,” he said. “I finally have a big GAM win under my belt. The GAM always runs the best tournaments on great courses. I’m so happy to finally win one.”
Mitchell admitted he was a bit intimidated when the playoff started.
“I had my high school bag, and there was a guy with an Indiana bag and Ryan Johnson, the best player in the state the last year,” he said. “I hit good shots though. I’m so happy about that. I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, parents and everybody supporting me. It’s great to win for all of them, too.”
Kollin, a Sweet 16 golfer in the Michigan Amateur in 2014 at Belvedere, took summer classes this year and said his game is just starting to come together a little bit.
“I made a couple of mental errors today that ultimately cost me, but I stayed with it, got in the playoff and then (White) hit a really good putt to win it. “I’m happy for him. He played well this week.”
Johnson, looking to be the first since Jimmy Chestnut in 2008 to win the Michigan Amateur and the GAM in the same season, said he felt great after posting the 65 in the morning, but struggled in the afternoon with some wayward shots.
“I had a chance in the playoff, and burned the edge on that last putt,” he said. “Even on the first playoff hole we all had good looks, but you need a birdie and (White) got one.”
View results for Golf Association of Michigan Championship Golf Tournament