MACOMB – Joe
DeNino, drag racer on the weekends, retired mechanic and golfer much of the
rest of the time, called winning the 7th GAM Net Match Play Championship
presented by Michigan Golf Live incredible.
“This is pretty
special,” he said after a 4 and 3 win in the title match over Dan Feiten of
Commerce Township Wednesday at Burning Tree Golf & Country Club.
“I started playing
golf when I was 12, so I’ve been playing for almost 50 years and never really
won anything this big. I won the Taylor City Championship in 2003, and I’m the
reigning Taylor senior champion, but this is the first major win.”
DeNino, playing to a
10 handicap for the tournament, took his first lead with a par on the fourth
hole, and went 2-up on the fifth hole where he made a par for a net birdie. He
closed out the front nine 2-up after making a 25-foot putt for a natural birdie
on the par 3 No. 9 hole.
64-year-old salesman from Commerce Township, had sand and river troubles on the
first two holes on the back nine and DeNino had a 4-up lead through 11 holes.
Feiten, playing to
an 8 handicap in the tournament, fought back as DeNino took turns with trouble
on holes 12 and 13, and DeNino had just a 2-up lead through No. 13. Then DeNino
won with a par on 14, and made a natural birdie-2 at No. 15 with a 30-foot putt
to close out the match.
“Poor shot making
for me, not to my standards, but I was grinding pretty good all week,” Feiten
said. “I didn’t get off the tee very well, but I was grinding. (Joe) played well. He was hitting fairways,
and I was giving him a couple of shots. It was tough.”
DeNino beat 2013
champion Michael Piazza of Allen Park 5 and 4 in a morning semifinal to earn
his spot in the finals, and Feiten beat Matt Magnotte of Macomb 6 and 4 in the
DeNino, who was
playing in the championship for the sixth time, said he had an especially tough
match with 2014 champion Mike Hayes of White Lake in the second round, and said
playing two rounds of golf on three consecutive days was tough.
“I’ve had a couple
of surgeries, and my shoulder needs some ice right now,” he said. “I’m feeling
pretty good. I played pretty good golf today, hit a few really bad shots and
made a couple double-bogeys, but I also had those two long putts for birdie on
par 3s. That’s always big.”
Feiten was playing in
the championship for just the second time. He plans to come back again.
“It was fun,” he
said. “I like the competition. It’s a bunch of good guys. It’s good golf, a
beautiful course. I got to the finals. I just have to play a little better next
-Greg Johnson [email protected]