Charles DeLong, Bradley Smithson Share Michigan Amateur Medalist Honors

BATH – Charles DeLong of DeWitt and Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids shared medalist honors in stroke play Tuesday and will be the top two seeds for match play in the 111th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Hawk Hollow Golf Club.

  DeLong, a Grand Valley State University golfer, shot a second consecutive 4-under 67 for 134 and tied Smithson, the first-round leader and a Michigan State University golfer, who followed his opening 65 with a 69.

  They will lead the low 64 scorers into six rounds of match play Wednesday through Friday to determine a champion.

   Owen Tucci of Macomb, who recently finished his golf career at Oakland University, shot a 67 for 138 and third place, and insurance broker Max Rispler of Ada, a former Bowling Green State University golfer, shot 72 for 140.

  Ben Balen of Freeland, a Piedmont University in Georgia golfer, shot 70 for 141 to round out the top five.

  Mike Anderson of Northville, 2020 GAM Mid-Amateur champion, emerged from a playoff of seven golfers for the 64th and final spot at 10-over 152. He got the spot with a par on the third playoff hole and will play DeLong (blind draw with Smithson for No. 2 seed) in the first round.

  The playoff included accomplished GAM golfers; last year’s runner-up Tyler Rayman of Otsego, Mike Ignasiak, the runner-up in 2013, and last year’s GAM Mid-Am champion Nate Clark of DeWitt.

  DeLong, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year and an NCAA Division II Regional Champion for the Lakers, was happy to be co-medalist with Smithson and share the Charles Kocsis Medalist Trophy.

  “We grew up in the same area and played in high school against each other, so we’ve been battling and it’s cool to kind of share this with him,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this for about 10 minutes though, and then shift the focus to tomorrow morning because I’ll be tied with the guy I play.”

 Smithson, who last summer became just the seventh amateur to win the Michigan Open Championship, also used the word cool to describe sharing medalist honors with DeLong.

  “Charlie’s a very good player and we have played against each other a lot,” he said. “It was fun. It was fun to play along and see him kind of chase me down the stretch.”

  Smithson said he took a step back in recovery Tuesday from a recent bout with food poisoning, and his plan moving forward was simple.

  “I plan to rest, eat some food and make pars in match play,” he said.

  DeLong shot a bogey-free 3-under 33 on the back nine to key his round.

  “I didn’t play great on the front but I kept I kept in play and made a couple of putts to keep the round going, and then I hit it really good on the back,” he said. “I was giving myself a lot of chances for birdie and luckily a few of them went in.”

  His birdie at the par 5 No. 13 hole stood out.

  “I hit two really good hybrids, the second one right at the hole from about 255 to 20 feet for an easy two-putt,” he said. “I had two really good swings there to set that up.”

   The Grand Valley standout said medalist fit in with his goals.

  “You want to try to play as good as you can (in stroke play) because when your mind says I want to just make it to match play then you usually find yourself just trying to make match play,” he said. “So the goal was to try to win coming in. So to be a medalist, it’s pretty cool.”

   Smithson said he didn’t make as many putts in the second round as he did in the first, but he hit it better.

  “I was glad to see that especially to go on to the rest of the week,” he said. “I went a little backwards today (with the food poisoning), but it felt good to be outside and walk. Sitting in the hotel and eating probably wasn’t great. So getting outside, feeling some pressure and walking was probably good.”

  Smithson said his goal coming in, like DeLong, was to win.

  “The first thing was probably to just make it to match play, but I’m definitely excited to keep playing and try to play better.”

  Tucci, who made match play last year but lost in the first round, wants to keep his good play rolling this week. He said his game plan for the course isn’t changing for match play.

  “Just hit fairways, hit greens, kind of the same thing I did the first two rounds,” he said. “I’m hitting my driver really straight and the course isn’t too long, so I’m having a lot of wedges into greens. I’m playing pretty well right now.”