Birdie-Eagle-Birdie Finish Powers White Lake’s Michael Coriasso to GAM Mid-Amateur Victory

Link to championship page, results: Mid-Am

  HARBOR SPRINGS – Michael Coriasso of White Lake finished his day birdie-eagle-birdie and won the 37th GAM Mid-Amateur Championship presented by OmniKinetics in dramatic fashion Thursday at Boyne Highlands Resort.

  Coriasso, originally from Grand Blanc, finished his regulation round on the Moor Course with a birdie on the par 4 17th, then eagled the par 5 18th to shoot a 3-under 69 and force a tie with Brad Bastion of Shelby Township, who also shot 69 for a 5-under 139 total.

  Coriasso, 29 and a loan officer for Quicken Loans, then birdied the first hole of sudden-death, the par 4 10th, with a 15-foot birdie putt for his first GAM tournament victory and what he called his 100 percent biggest win ever.

  “It’s an awesome feeling to win,” he said after accepting the Glenn H. Johnson Trophy for winning the championship for golfers over age 25.

  “I was really the odd man out all day. From the 12th hole to the 16th I maybe hit one green. I was really scrambling just to stay in it and have a shot. Then after I birdied 17 I knew it was stacked – Brad, Steve (Nichols), me and Nathan (Clark), and I knew to have any chance I had to make eagle on 18 and Brad had to make par or worse. I hit a really good drive, and then a good 7-iron to about 18 feet. I read the putt straight and then second-guessed and thought this has to go a hair left. I played it that way, made a perfect stroke and it went in. It was a great feeling.”

  Coriasso and Bastion, who also finished second last year to a dramatic rally by Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills, went to No. 10 where Coriasso had birdied during regulation play

  “That hole, 10, has been my nemesis for years coming up here,” Coriasso said. “Usually it is howling into the wind like today, and you have water hazards, left and right and short of the green,” he said. “I was commiserating with Brad about how that hole keeps me up at night. Sometimes in the middle of the year I will think about it. To birdie it twice today was awesome. Brad told me there was more room up there than I think, so I thought about it and hit driver both times. In the playoff I had a good lie in the rough and hit a good shot to 18 feet. I had a putt on the same line earlier today and made it, so I knew it was just outside the right edge and I knocked it in.”

   Steve Nichols, who shot a second consecutive 70 for 140, took third place overall, but was also identified as the Mid-Senior Division winner as the low scorer over age 45 in the tournament.

   Nathan Clark of DeWitt shot 71 for 142 and fourth place, and Jimmy Chestnut of Royal Oak, who shot 70 for 144, finished fifth.

   Strickland, the defending champion, shot 71 for 147 and tied for sixth with Austin Kreger of Harrison Township who shot 72.

  David Vaclav of Flat Rock shot 75 for 148 and tied for eighth place overall with Andrew Smith of Troy, who shot 73 to close. Vaclav was declared the runner-up in the Mid-Senior Division.

  Meanwhile, the Mid-Am Senior Championship (over age 55), which closed on the Heather course on Thursday, also ended in a dramatic playoff with Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Steve Maddalena emerging as the winner in a four-golfer sudden-death playoff.

  Maddalena, 59, won his second GAM senior title and first Mid-Am Senior by shooting a closing 72 for 146 to get in the playoff. Once there, he hit a punch 7-iron third shot to 18 inches on the third playoff hole (par 5 No. 9) and made birdie to win.

  He was tied at the end of regulation with Chris Chocola of Harbor Springs, who shot 73 to close, Greg Zeller of Jackson, who shot 73, and defending Senior champion Jim Lewis of Novi, who rallied with a 71. Chocola, who parred the third playoff hole, earned the runner-up trophy.

  Maddalena said it felt great to win.

  “I don’t win that often, especially a GAM tournament, so this is just great,” said the multiple winner of both the Michigan Amateur Championship and GAM Championship in his career. “I hit it solidly today, and I felt even par today was good. It was really tough in the wind and the greens were running fast like they always do on the Heather. I feel good about how I played.”

  Maddalena, who runs the Kentwood Office Furniture location in Jackson, said winning is what drives him to keep playing in tournaments.

  “If I don’t think I can win – at least in my mind – then I’m probably not going to play,” he said.

  A Super Senior Division champion was also crowned among the players over age 65. Ian Harris won his third GAM Super Senior trophy of the summer and fourth including the Michigan PGA’s Senior Open, which includes a Super Senior Division. He shot 73 for 148, topping Gary Quitiquit of Highland, who shot 77 for 155.

  “I need to have a little incentive so I was trying to become the first player to ever win all four of those Super Senior titles,” said Harris, who is 67 and a tennis professional. “My back is really the reason I started playing in the Super Senior this year, and it was pretty good this week. I put some self-induced pressure on myself out there and I was feeling it. I really wanted to do this, and I pulled it off.”

-Greg Johnson, [email protected]