Final Four: Three College Golfers, Hawk Hollow Member Remain in Michigan Amateur

BATH – Three collegiate golfers from three different schools and a host club member make up the final four players in the 111th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Hawk Hollow Golf Club.

  August Meekhof of Eastmanville and Michigan State University, Nick Krueger of Spring Lake and Grand Valley State University, Patrick Deardorff of Clarkston and Eastern Michigan University and Hawk Hollow member David Szymanski, a recent Michigan State University law school graduate from Holt, will meet in morning semifinals Friday. The two winners will play in the afternoon for the championship.

  Meekhof is in the final four for a second time. He lost to the eventual runner-up James Piot, a fellow Spartan in the semifinals in 2020. He also lost to Piot, now a professional after winning the U.S. Amateur last summer, in the round of 16 a year ago as well. This year he remedied the situation of losing to Piot by taking his former teammate up on an offer to stay in his nearby East Lansing apartment for the week.

  “He’s gone, so it works,” Meekhof said.

  His game is working well, too. He beat John Quigley of Sterling Heights 4 and 3 on the morning round of 16 Thursday, and then dispatched Justin Sui of Lake Orion 5 and 4 in the afternoon. It was Sui who knocked out the co-medalist in stroke play, MSU golfer Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids, 4 and 2 in the morning.

  “My ball striking was great and I was making my putts all day really,” Meekhof said. “I only hit driver a few times. This course is all about placement. Distance isn’t really a big factor. It’s more accuracy and I was hitting it well and getting birdie chances.”

  Krueger, a Division II All-Region golfer for Grand Valley this year, has reached the final four for the first time in the Amateur. He beat Erik Fahlen of Rockford and Taylor University 4 and 3 in the morning and then topped Tyler Eedy of West Branch 5 and 4 in the afternoon.

  “I’ve been one or two-under each round so I’m just king of playing solid, steady golf and not making too many mistakes,” he said. “There are a lot of hazards on this course so if you keep it in front of you it helps and I’m hitting my irons well. I’m trying to keep it in the fairway, hitting my driver good and then I’m kind of attacking from there and it seems to be working.”

  Deardorff, a former GAM Junior Boy’s State Amateur Champion, has made his farthest run in match play in the Michigan Amateur as well.

  He knocked out Mike Anderson of Northville, the 64 seed who had toppled No. 1 seed Charles DeLong, 3 and 2 in the morning round of 16. Then held off Matt Zerbel of St. Joseph 2 and 1 in the quarterfinal match.

  “In the first match (vs. Anderson) we both had it going early,” he said. “I think I finished like five or six-under and he was at least two-under. And then in the second match the wind picked up and the conditions were a lot harder so we both played around par. I just made a couple of good putts, about a 12-foot birdie at 13 and a good two-putt from the back left over that elephant in the middle of the green on 14.”

  He said his ball-striking is the best he’s experienced in a while.

  “I’m confident and in golf anything can happen,” he said. “I’m going to go out tomorrow and play as hard as I can and see what happens.”

   Szymanski, who is originally from Grosse Pointe Park and played college golf at Robert Morris University (Pennsylvania), has been spending his days studying for the bar exam in the morning and then playing golf in the afternoons at Hawk Hollow.

  He is in the final four for the first time and said he is enjoying the attention of family and friends and even fellow golf league members out watching him play.

  “I love having everyone out here,” he said after he held off University of Nebraska-bound Evan McDermott of Spring Lake 1-up in the round of 16 and then rallied on the back nine with birdies against Colin Sikkenga of Kalamazoo and Oakland University, topping him 2 and 1 in the quarterfinal match.

   “My expectations were to make play and I thought it I could match what I did when I was playing college golf (Sweet 16 in 2017), I would be happy,” he said. “Then once I made it, I thought, well, this is my home course and I think I can beat anyone out here.”

   Szymanski will meet Deardorff at 8 a.m. and Meekhof will take on Krueger at 8:15. A championship match will start an hour after the morning matches are complete.

   Photo: Hawk Hollow member David Szymanski from Thursday’s play.