Defending champion Beau Breault and his caddie Zach Sudinsky (GAM photo)
By Greg Johnson
Two former champions, including the defending champion, two 40-somethings, one Oakland Hills Country Club member, a college golf coach, six college golfers, an 18-year-old home-schooled student and a former Drive, Chip and Putt finalist who just graduated from high school are part of the celebrated “Sweet 16” in the 108th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Oakland Hills Country Club’s North Course.
They emerged from a rain-filled Thursday of two rounds of match play with the round of 16 and quarterfinals scheduled for Friday and the semifinals and finals on Saturday.
Beau Breault of Hartland, the defending champion, had to play Baker Stevenson of Hartland in the afternoon round of 32. Stevenson caddied for him last year when he won at Country Club of Detroit. Breault said it was fun, but hard to focus on beating his best friend, especially because their former high school coach, Nathan Oake, caddied for Stevenson.
“You want your best friend to play as well as he can and beat him, but he didn’t play as well as he can,” he said after winning the afternoon round of 32 match 4 and 3. “It turned into a pillow fight and I had the lead.”
Breault recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University and said his plan is to turn professional after a last summer as an amateur. He changed putters and switched grips between the first two days of qualifying and the start of match play and said he is focusing on one match at a time.
“It was a long day today in the rain, and tomorrow is another long day,” he said. “I’m excited about being in the Sweet 16 and excited to try and play better golf.”
Henry Do, the 2014 Michigan Amateur champion, won the Michigan Amateur the first time he played in it. He said he has found out how difficult it is to win since then.
“As I’ve played in it since I’ve grown in appreciation for how great it was that I won, and how hard it was to do it,” he said. “It was a long day today in the rain. I had a couple of good matches, but at the end of the day I had made the putts I need to make.”
Do, 24 and the director of business development for Hall Financial, made the decision to use his economics degree from the University of North Carolina and admitted he surprised people by not turning professional.
“It wasn’t what I wanted,” he said. “I play golf for fun now instead of trying to grind out a score and grind on getting better all the time. I’m having fun, and that’s how I’m approaching this. I’m going to try and have more fun tomorrow.”
Scott Strickland, who topped Brian Hayward of Grand Rapids 3 and 2 in the afternoon, is the lone Oakland Hills Country Club member remaining from 10 who started in the field on Tuesday. The 36-year-old former GAM and Michigan Mid-Amateur Champion has played in the Amateur many times, but this is his first time in the Sweet 16. He said he feels more pride than pressure regarding his membership.
“I’m proud to be a member of Oakland Hills,” he said. “We hoped to have a better showing by a bunch of us, but it didn’t happen. The great thing about Oakland Hills is that whether it hosts a Michigan Amateur or a U.S. Amateur, they do it professionally and it is always fantastic. It’s great I’m still playing and I will try my best to keep it going.”
Top seed Ben Smith of Novi and Georgia Tech made his second consecutive Sweet 16. He heads the usual group of college golfers moving on.
Anthony Sorentino, a Rochester Hills attorney and the runner-up to Breault a year ago, and Tom Stevens of Northville, the chief financial officer of RS Energy, are the 40-somethings remaining in the field. Sorentino is 41 and in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time. Stevens is 43 and made it to the final 16 for the first time in he estimates 15 Michigan Amateur attempts over the years.
Dan Ellis, 29, is an assistant golf coach at Michigan State. He is in the Sweet 16 for the second time.
Cal Wollack of Saline is the home-schooled student, and a surprise in the Sweet 16. He is playing in his first competition in two years after what he called taking a break from the game because he lost passion for it.
Coalter Smith, 18, just graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School and is headed to the University of Wisconsin to play college golf. His name might be familiar because he is the former Drive, Chip and Putt star in the field.
ABOUT THE Michigan Amateur
The Michigan State Amateur is the state's most
prestigious amateur championship. Sectional
is required for those who do not meet the exemption
requirements. Format is 36-holes of stroke play
followed by a cut to the low 64 players for match
View Complete Tournament Information