Written By: Greg Johnson
BLOOMFIELD HILLS – August Meekhof, a Michigan State University golfer from Eastmanville, Will Anderson of Portage, who plays for the University of Michigan, and Northville’s Jimmy Dales, who has a year left at the University of Wyoming, are three of the final four golfers remaining in the 112th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Oakland Hills Country Club.
The fourth, Jared Lyons of Portage, a former Saginaw Valley State University golfer playing in just his second Michigan Amateur, describes himself as a late bloomer and admits he is a bit of a surprise.
“I mean, I’m just playing solid golf right now and making pars,” said the 25-year-old project manager in the supply chain industry who won matches in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals Friday on the North Course at Oakland Hills.
“So yeah, I’m a little surprised. I thought that some of the guys in this would be tearing it up and my pars wouldn’t be good enough.”
Pars on a rain-filled day proved to be in good supply and good enough as the 2018 Kalamazoo County Amateur Champion topped Anthony Sorentino of Rochester, 2 and 1, in the morning. Sorentino was the 2018 Amateur runner-up. Then for good measure Lyons outlasted Kyle Petrovich of Royal Oak, an Oakland Hills member and former Oakland University golfer, 3 and 1.
“My first golf was to qualify, and I also had a more specific smaller goal of not making any double bogies throughout stroke play, but I threw that one away on the 36th hole of stroke play,” he said. “But I played solid where it mattered, and in match play, for me, it’s just shot by shot and don’t make big numbers because that gives holes away.”
Lyons will meet Anderson in the 8:15 a.m. all-Portage semifinal Saturday morning. He said he never met Anderson, but has certainly heard of him, and has played with Will’s father Adam in tournaments.
“I’m just going to keep going shot by shot,” he said. “It’s fun. I’ve never done anything like this. It’s pretty big for me.”
Anderson earned his spot in the semifinals by knocking out Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills, another Oakland Hills member, in 19 holes, in the morning round of 16. Then in the Michigan vs. Michigan State match of the afternoon, he topped Spartan recruit Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester, 2 and 1.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” he said of making the final four. “It’s something that I kind of always wanted to do. I remember watching my dad play in Michigan Amateurs and growing up in this state, you always want to be able to get in the Amateur and make a run. It’s really hard because you have to have things go your way to win matches. We put it together these first two days (of match play). Hopefully we can do a little more of the same tomorrow.”
Meekhof is the only returning semifinalist. He lost to eventual champion Nick Krueger of Spring Lake a year ago, and he said that result has driven him to return and go one step further.
“I’ve always loved this tournament,” he said. “Playing against all the best players in the state is really fun. Just to compete and have all these close matches and get better from it is great.”
Meekhof, last summer’s GAM Champion, topped two of the more experienced standouts in the field Friday. He fought off Mike Anderson of Novi 1-up in the morning and then topped Brad Bastion of Shelby Township 3 and 2.
“I hit the ball solid pretty much all day,” he said. “The putter wasn’t great this morning against Mr. Anderson, but in the second match I putted solidly. My game is kind of progressing this week.”
He started both matches by driving the first green, which was being played at 325 yards for the day.
“It’s a good way to start and then you just try to have fun, play one shot at a time and just stay in the moment.”
Dales, who will play Meekhof in the 8 a.m. match, beat Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and 2006 Michigan Amateur champion Greg Davies of West Bloomfield 3 and 2 in the morning, and then Penn State University golfer, Jack Zubkus of Ada, 2-up, in the quarterfinals.
Dales, who is returning for a sixth year at Wyoming via the COVID/NCAA waiver and studying for his MBA, said the two matches were tough battles and the rain didn’t make it any easier.
“I went through a lot of gloves,” he said. “I bought three of them at the turn (of the morning match) and I think I used all of them. They kept slipping on me a little bit, but thankfully I had my dad on the bag and he kept everything dry and did a great job of helping me out.”
He said the goal at the start of the week was the usual for the Amateur, get to match play.
“I knew I was playing well, so I’m happy,” he said. “I got a couple of good breaks in match play and I will be playing tomorrow.”
He’s familiar with Meekhof, his morning opponent. He played with him in the GAM Championship last year when Meekhof was victorious.
“He’s a really nice player,” he said. “It’s going to be a really good match tomorrow. There’s a long way to go.”