GAM

GOLF ASSOCIATION OF MICHIGAN

OVID’S JERRY GUNTHORPE IN FINAL MATCH OF U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR AT CC OF DETROIT

GROSSE POINTE FARMS – Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid will play for the 66th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship Thursday at Country Club of Detroit.

The 58-year-old president of the longstanding family business – Gunthrope Plumbing and Heating in East Lansing – won quarterfinal and semifinal matches Wednesday to earn a spot in the 8:30 a.m. championship match.

He will meet Gene Elliott of West Des Moines, Iowa, who beat Commerce Township’s Tom Gieselman 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals and topped Craig Davis of Chula Vista, Calif., 5 and 4 in the semifinals.

Gunthorpe beat Rusty Strawn of McDonough, Ga., 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals, and then turned back Canadian Dave Bunker 3 and 1 in the semifinals.

“It’s been a long week for sure a lot of golf, a lot of swings, a lot of reading putts, a lot of repetition over and over again, which is a grind, but I never really felt like I was suffering in my play because of it,” he said. “I’ve just got to continue what I’ve been doing and, and I should still play well. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to win, but I should still be able to play well.”

Gunthorpe, who is missing the GAM Mid-Amateur Championship this week at Boyne Highlands Resort where he won the Senior Division a year ago, could bring a second national championship to Michigan golf this summer. James Piot of Canton and Michigan State University won the recent U.S. Amateur Championship.

“This championship isn’t as old as some of them but it still has a lot of history to it, and for me any USGA event is premier,” Gunthorpe said. “I mean especially for any American. This is our best we can get, this is the best competition, the best courses and the best players come together. If you can win here, I mean that’s saying a lot, for sure.”

Gunthorpe trailed after the first hole in his quarterfinal match with Strawn but tied the match on the second hole with a par and took the lead with a birdie on the fourth hole. He was either tied or in the lead the rest of the way, winning holes No. 13 and 15 with pars to pull away.

In the semifinal with Bunker, Gunthorpe won the first three holes and never trailed in the match. Consecutive birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 gave him a 3-up lead. Bunker birdied No. 14 and No. 16 to stay in the match, but Gunthorpe closed it out with a birdie on the par 5 No. 17 hole.

Gunthorpe, the 2004 Horton Smith winner, has multiple wins in stroke play and match play in the Lansing area. He has also been the Owosso Country Club champion 10 times  and shot a competitive-best 62 there last year. This is his second U.S. Senior Amateur appearance and fifth USGA championship. He qualified for match play in 2019.

His sons, Nate and Nick, are regulars in GAM tournaments and have both played in USGA championships as well. Nate, who played collegiate golf at Michigan State, is serving as his caddie this week at CC of Detroit. He said they developed a good routine for reading putts and communication on the greens earlier in the week.

‘Our communication is 100 percent better than it was to start, and so we’re just sticking to that routine,” he said.

Elliott, his final match opponent, is 59 and an Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member who owns a sanitation and street equipment company. He is playing in his 36th USGA championship and fourth U.S. Senior Amateur.

“I played with Gene one other time,  in a Golfweek event last winter,” Gunthorpe said. “He’s a great guy, good player. I know it’s going to be a tight, tough match if I play well, so I just need to play well and see what happens.”

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