HARBOR SPRINGS – Midland’s Cameron Lippoldt loves the Michigan Amateur Championship and it shows.
For the second consecutive year he fashioned a great start, and this time he had a one-shot lead through the first round of the 109th edition of the state championship presented by Carl’s Golfland on The Heather course at Boyne Highlands Resort.
Lippoldt, a Northwood University golfer who has opted to be a graduate transfer and play his final collegiate year at Oakland University, shot a 4-under 67 to set the pace Monday.
Two Michigan State University golfers, James Piot of Canton and Andrew Walker of Battle Creek checked in next with 68s.
Wayne State University golfer Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills, the stroke play medalist in 2017 at Egypt Valley Country, 30-year-old Nick Gunthorpe of East Lansing, and 15-year-old Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester Hills, a Birmingham Brother Rice student, made up the group at 69.
Five golfers shot 70, including Oakland University golf coach Nick Pumford of Troy, Tyler Klimas of Farmington Hills, David Vaclav of Flat Rock, Michael Anderson of Northville, and Sean Friel of Rochester Hills.
Defending champion Ben Smith of Novi and Georgia Tech, and last year’s runner-up, Patrick Sullivan of Grosse Pointe and the University of Michigan, each shot 73.
“I love the Michigan Amateur,” said the 23-year-old Lippoldt who shot 2-under to start the Michigan Amateur a year ago at Oakland Hills Country Club. “It seems like all the top college players play in this and all of the other great players in the state. The venue is always great. Boyne is a wonderful place. It was great to get off to a good start.”
The field of 156 golfers will play another round of stroke play Tuesday to determine the low 64 scorers to be seeded into a match play bracket. Match play starts on Wednesday and continues through Friday afternoon. The leader after the second round will earn the Chuck Kocsis Medalist Trophy and the No. 1 seed in the bracket.
Lippoldt, a two-time winner for Northwood and a U.S. Amateur qualifier in 2017, said a solid start (off No. 10 tee), including an eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 15 hole keyed his round.
“My only two bogeys were three-putts, my driver was a little shaky, but my irons were awesome,” he said. “Overall, it was a good round. I’m happy to be where I’m at heading into tomorrow. I just have to keep hitting my lines and keep working through the week on the putting and hope they will fall when I need them.”
Piot, who won two tournaments last fall for Michigan State and was the 2018 GAM champion, made a double-bogey 6 on the 14th hole, but rallied with two birdies down the stretch in his 68.
The 21-year-old Spartan said he felt he ended up in a good position considering how his day went.
“I hit a great shot, or I hit a horrible shot, that was kind of how my ball-striking went today,” he said. “I tried my best to manage it. I came back from the double. That was good. I feel phenomenal with the putter. Inside of 10 feet, I think I made everything. So, I want to keep the putts rolling and go for that one-seed (medalist) spot.”
Walker, who was a record-setting medalist in 2018 in the Amateur at Country Club of Detroit, said being medalist again was one of the goals for the week.
“This puts me in a position to try and beat myself, and that self-competition thing drives me,” he said.
He set a tournament record of 131 for the two qualifying rounds at CC of Detroit but fell in the match play portion of the tournament.
“I’m looking forward to doing better in match play this time,” he said. “I feel really good about my game.”
Walker, among the seniors whose final spring season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to take advantage of being granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA.
“My college career has not been all I wanted it to be, and I really felt my game was trending upward in the fall and going into the spring. Then everything was cancelled.”
He said iron play keyed his round Monday, including an 8-iron to four-feet at No. 18 for birdie.
“I birdied it in both practice rounds, too, so that’s three in a row,” he said. “I hope to keep that going.”
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