REDFORD – Jimmy Chestnut of Royal Oak fought off final-round nerves he had not confronted for a long time and won his second GAM Championship Tuesday, 12 years after his first.
With a 3-under 68 for a 7-under tournament total the 38-year-old attorney rallied to catch and pass Ann Arbor’s Tyler Copp, who shot a closing 73 for a 6-under finish in the 99th edition of the Golf Association of Michigan member championship presented this year by Carl’s Golfland.
“I’ve won the Michigan Amateur and the GAM, and now the GAM again and to win three of the big GAM events is a big deal for me,” he said. “It kicks me up a notch, I guess to another level in my mind, and to do it 12 years later is special.”
Chestnut, the last golfer to win the GAM Championship and the Michigan Amateur in the same year (2008), stopped the attempt of Copp, this year’s Michigan Amateur champion, to match the feat. It has been accomplished eight times by seven golfers in 99 years, including Melvin “Bud” Stevens, a Michigan Golf Hall of Famer, and former Western Golf & Country Club member.
“I knew I was the last one to do it and when Tyler was a 9-under and I was at 5-under and four back, I started thinking it was his turn,” said Chestnut, a Grand Blanc native who is legal counsel for AlixPartners, a global consulting firm and played his college golf at Michigan State.
“But then things changed, all of a sudden in a few holes we were tied and in entered my mind again that I could stop the double and still be the last guy to do it, which is kind of cool.”
Copp, who will be a senior at Mercer University in Georgia in the fall, made bogey with missed fairways and greens on holes 10, 12 and 13 while Chestnut rallied with pars on 10 and 13 and birdies on holes 11 and 12.
“Five shots went down to nothing in four holes, and three were bogies, so I mean, I feel like I gave it away more than he took it away,” said Copp who left a 20-foot tying birdie putt just an inch short of the lip of the cup on No. 18.
“I’m not going to be too hung up about it. The Michigan Am was the one tournament I wanted to win this summer, so this was just icing on the cake, or could have been.”
James Piot of Canton, the current Michigan State standout, shot a closing 71 to check in third at 5-under.
Andrew Walker of Battle Creek, another Spartan, shot 72, and Brad Bastion of Shelby Township, who closed with a 69, tied at 3-under. Zach Robbins of Grand Rapids and Cleveland State University, who shot 70, and reigning Michigan Mid-Am champion Mike Coriasso of White Lake, who shot 73, finished at 1-under.
Piot, who has lost in the final match to Copp in the Michigan Amateur, never made it the showdown that was anticipated. He said he had his “D” game for the day, and a lost ball on No. 11, which was found later lodged in a tree and resulted in a double-bogey.
“That was a bad break, but I did hit it in the tree,” he said. “I had a lot of opportunities I didn’t take advantage of, too. Jimmy took advantage. He has that great pro swing, great tempo and he still hits it out there with us. Plus, he’s a fellow Spartan, so I feel good for him.”
Chestnut said the nerves got to him as he held the one-shot lead over the final two holes. He reached the front edge of the par 5 No. 17 hole (No. 14 for member routing) in two shots but three-putted for par, and then at 18 blocked his tee shot into the middle of No. 10 fairway wide right of No. 18.
“I got a break having an open shot on 18 to the green, and then I was able to two-putt with the nerves going,” he said. “That last three-footer was tough. I was lucky it found the bottom of the cup. It was really fun to be the mix, to be right there again with the nerves and it feels great to have pulled it off.”