Hot Putter Helps Michigan State’s Andrew Walker Set Pace at 107th Michigan Amateur

– Andrew Walker of Battle Creek felt like his sophomore year on the Michigan
State University golf team was one of missed opportunities.

  “So, I’m happy to
see this,” he said after shooting a 6-under 65 Tuesday at Country Club of
Detroit to lead through the first round of the 107th Michigan Amateur
Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.

  Walker and the rest
of the field of 156 golfers play a second round of stroke play today to
determine the low 64 who move on to match play Thursday through Saturday. The medalist
of the qualifying stroke play will also receive the Chuck Kocsis Trophy.

  Walker, a
19-year-old former AJGA All-American, topped the afternoon wave of tee times.

  Tyler Copp of Ann
Arbor, a 20-year-old sophomore-to-be at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., topped
the morning wave with a 68 and was standing second alone at the end of the day.

  Three golfers shot 69, including last year’s
GAM Mid-Amateur champion John Quigley of St. Clair Shores, Michigan State
assistant golf coach Dan Ellis of Lansing, and Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith of
Novi, the winner of the last two Michigan Junior Amateur titles.

  University of
Michigan club team golfer Ian Martin of Saline, Birmingham Seaholm High School
golfer Jack Muir of Birmingham, and Mitchell White of Muskegon and Grand Valley
State’s golf team shot 70.

  Jake Kneen of White
Lake, the recent Oakland University graduate who won last week’s Michigan Open
Championship, was in a big group at even-par 71.

  Walker, who tied for
fourth in last week’s Michigan Open, said he is having the start to the summer
he wanted.

  “In planning and
looking at the summer one of the goals of the summer is to come out on top in
this tournament,” he said. “Being in Michigan, and it’s your state Am, it means
a lot to me. I’m glad I’ve put myself in a good position on day one. Now I go
out, stick to my game plan and take care of business.”

  His business was
especially good on the greens in the first round where a hot putter helped him
to eight birdies against two bogeys. He said a trio of made 30-footers for
birdies on Nos. 1, 13 and 16 keyed the scoring.

  “I hit a lot of
greens and hit a few close shots, but my putter was the main tool of my trade
today,” he said. “There were some really tough pin placements out there, but I
did a good job of weighing when to be aggressive and when to be safe.”

  Copp is competing in
his first Michigan Amateur with a little bit of chip on his shoulder.

  “I kept missing in
(sectional) qualifiers by one or two shots with 73s or 74s, and I finally got
through this year,” he said. “I want to make the best of it.”

  Copp, 20, said the
main goal is to make match play. He has played the match play format in one
tournament before this week. It was last February and Mercer played in a
match-play event, ironically against his hometown school – the University of
Michigan. Michigan won, but Copp was one of two players who won their matches
for Mercer.

  “I’m a huge Michigan
fan, too,” he said.

   Copp, who played just two years of golf at
Ann Arbor Skyline High School and took a year off from golf before heading to
Mercer to play, said it wasn’t his best round of golf Tuesday in terms of
ball-striking. He was 4-under through seven holes, made three bogeys in the
next eight holes and then finished with two birdies and a sand save in the
final three holes. His birdie at the par 3 No. 16 hole was with a 5-iron tee
shot from 198 yards to four-feet.

  “I hit a great shot
there, but really I just putted really well,” he said. “The course fits me. You
have to play strategic golf and put yourself below the hole and make some
putts. That’s what I did.”

-Greg Johnson, [email protected]