Max VanderMolen, Lauren Timpf Win Second Junior Stroke Play Championships

EAST LANSING – Max VanderMolen of Richland and Lauren Timpf of Macomb have won their share of trophies as junior golfers and now they are starting to repeat themselves.

  VanderMolen, 14, won a second consecutive boys’ title in the 14th GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship Thursday at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East course.

  And Timpf, 15, added a second girls’ title to the one she earned in 2020 at age 13.

 VanderMolen’s final-round even-par 71 for 3-under 139 helped him hold off Cooper Reitsema of Ada, who shot 73 for 141. Andrew Chang of Bloomfield Hills shot 69 for 143 and tied for third with Adam Thanaporn of Ann Arbor, who shot a final 73.

  Meanwhile Timpf’s closing 69 for 139 was six shots clear of runner-up Lillian O’Grady of Grand Rapids, who shot 70 for 145. Grace Slocum of Traverse City, who shot a final 71, and KT Leinwand of Kalamazoo, who shot a 75, tied for third at 147.

  Champions were also crowned in the 12-and-under age groups, who played nine-hole rounds each day.

  Saisha Patil of Okemos, 11, won the girls’ title for the second consecutive year, and this time it took a birdie on the first sudden-death playoff hole to make it happen. Patil rolled in a 20-foot birdie on No. 1 in the playoff to turn back Madison Manning of Dexter.

  Patil shot 39 in regulation for 76, and Manning shot 38 for her 76 to force the playoff. Anika Srivastava of Okemos was third with a 41 for 82.

  In the boys’ competition Tommy Preston of Grand Rapids, 12, shot 37 for a two-day total of 73 to win. Patrick Berkemeier of Grand Rapids who shot 37, and Draven Rogers of Fort Gratiot who shot 39, tied for third at 78.

  For VanderMolen, who is home-schooled, it was also wins in consecutive tournaments. He won the recent Michigan Junior State Amateur title, took a two-week break from competition and returned this week.

  “I felt good coming back, it was just a refresh,” he said. “I started out today 2-over for a while, but then I went birdie-birdie and had the lead again. I like having strokes and being in the lead. I’m comfortable there.”

  He said he didn’t have a dramatic shot, but he also didn’t make big mistakes.

  “I can play better but I was pretty steady,” he said.

  Timpf, who attends Lutheran North in Macomb, said hard work with her drive in recent days paid off.

  “I could not keep anything in the fairway in the (Michigan Girls’) Junior Amateur, I was left or right, not in the fairway and today I was able to keep my drives in the fairway or just off which gave me a lot better looks into the green,” she said. “It also gave me more confidence.”

  She said she was consistent through the final round.

  “If I had a bogey, I came back with a birdie,” she said. “I tried to not get too down and just keep it level and try to make some birdies.”

Patil, a Kinawa Middle School student in Okemos, said her iron play was the key for her.

  “I hit some very good irons both days,” she said. “I had the lead starting today and Madison tied me. I was surprised that last putt went in (in the playoff). It was pretty long. I was trying to get it close so I could make par.”

   Preston, a St. Thomas The Apostle Catholic School student in Grand Rapids, said the key to his tournament was making the key short putts.

  “My putting was pretty good, and at the fifth hole I had a really good up-and-down for par that kept me going,” he said. “I was probably five yards off the green and chipped it to like four feet.”

  Forest Akers hosted for the sixth consecutive year. The tournament is designed for young players to gain competitive experience in GAM tournaments over two days.