Cooper Reitsma, Avery Manning Win GAM Junior Stroke Play Titles

Written By: Greg Johnson

EAST LANSING – Cooper Reitsma of Ada followed up a personal-best first-round 9-under 62 with a 69 to claim victory that he felt was eluding him.

And Avery Manning of Dexter added a title in the age 13-15 division to go with the two she won in the 12-and-under division in recent years.

They were the overall winners in the 15th GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship presented by Absopure at Forest Akers East Golf Course Thursday, a tournament that is designed for young players to gain competitive experience in GAM tournaments over two days.

The 13-15 players competed over 36 holes of stroke play, 18 holes each day, while the 12-and-under golfers played nine holes each day.

Reitsma’s 11-under 131 total powered by Wednesday’s 62, which included two eagles, was eight shot better than runner-up Troy Nguyen of Macomb, who shot a closing 68.

It was Nguyen who beat Reitsma in the 15-and-under age group match play final of the Michigan Junior Boys’ State Amateur Championship earlier this summer.

Aaroosh Patil of Okemos, who shot 72 in the final round, and Damon Watson of Westland, who shot 74, tied for third at 140. Adam Forcier rounded out the top five among the boys with a 69 for 143.

In the girls’ competition, Manning followed up an even-par round of 71 with a final 73 Thursday for 2-over 144, five shots clear of the field.

Her 71 on Wednesday included a wild 5-under 31 on the back nine that was made up of seven birdies, two bogeys and zero pars. It paired up with a front nine that started with a double-bogey on the first hole and included four bogeys, three pars and one birdie. Her final round started with a birdie on No. 1 but was followed by a steady 14 pars and three bogeys.

Esther Zhang of Ann Arbor, who shot 73 Thursday and Sophia Lee of Midland, who shot 75, tied at 149. Zhang beat Lee in a scorecard playoff to take home the crystal.

Hannah Kim of Troy, who shot 77 for 151, and Kelsey Preston of Grand Rapids, who shot 74 for 154, rounded out the top five.

Reitsma said it meant a lot to win a tournament he felt he let get away a year ago, and that he was happy he was able to follow up the 62 with solid play.

“Well, I just hopped on the first tee, let’s play some good golf and it managed to come out to a 62,” Reitsma said of his Wednesday round. “I didn’t feel like I played that much better than typical. I just missed in the right places, hit in the right places, made a lot of putts and somehow it came out 9-under par, and today shooting another 2-under 69 was really, really smooth.”

Manning said she wanted to stay steady in her final round and not have to press for birdies on the back nine like on Wednesday.

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