HARBOR SPRINGS – Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills said winning the GAM Mid-Amateur Championship for the second time was more satisfying.
“It’s been four years since the last one and there have been a lot of close calls in between,” he said. “Golf is a goofy game. You have to just keep plugging away and good things will happen.”
Strickland kept plugging away and topped three-time champion Anthony Sorentino on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the 40th edition of the Mid-Amateur Thursday at The Highlands at Harbor Springs.
The 40-year-old senior vice-president for Morgan Stanley shot 4-under 67 in regulation on the Moor course for a 140 total, the same as Sorentino, who also closed with a 67. Strickland made two pars in the playoff and was aided by Sorentino’s tee shot finding a big tree left of the fairway (hole 9) that contributed to him making bogey.
“It feels great to win,” said Strickland who played in the same group with Sorentino through the day. “Anthony was putting really well, and I missed a couple of good opportunities but kept telling myself to hang in there. We both kept plugging away. It really started feeling like a playoff on 16 (in regulation play). It got tighter, we all got more serious. Anthony is such an easy guy to get along with though, and he’s a great player. You know he is always in it because he has such an awesome short game. I just had to keep my head down and I felt like I was hitting it too good not to win.”
Strickland said the win makes up for a frustrating golf season.
“I felt like I’ve been close with my game, but I didn’t have anything to show for it,” he said. “I struggled with the putter a bit over the course of the summer. It’s just very satisfying to get a win again.”
Mike Coriasso of Royal Oak, the first-round leader, shot a final 76 for 143 and third place overall.
Champions were also determined in three other age divisions. Greg Davies of West Bloomfield won the Mid-Seniors (ages 45-54) title, Steve Maddalena of Jackson won the Senior (ages 55-plus) title and Ron Perrine of Holt won the Super Senior (ages 65-plus) title.
Davies, 54 and a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, won the Mid-Seniors (ages 45-54) after shooting a pair of 72s for 144, tops in the age group and fourth overall. Andrew Smith of Oakland shot 70 for 146 to finish second in age group and tied for eighth overall.
“It’s a nice consolation prize to win a trophy because I was playing to try and win the Mid-Amateur title, but to win any GAM event is huge really,” Davies said. “It was a lot of fun. I probably should have scored lower yesterday when I played really well. Today was more survival mode.”
Maddalena, like Davies a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, shot a closing 3-under 69 on the Hills course for 147 and the Senior title. He won by a shot over first-round leader Kevin Vandenberg of Pulaski, NY, a summer GAM member who shot a closing 78 with a double-bogey 7 on the final hole.
Greg Zeller of Jackson shot 76 for 150 and third place, and John Barnum of Grand Rapids shot 78 for 152 and fourth.
“I made bogey on 18 and thought I lost it there,” the 62-year-old Maddalena said. “I feel fortunate. I putted better today and made a few long putts I don’t normally make. It’s always nice to win. I love to compete and this is a great tournament. I got a little lucky today.”
Perrine, 71, birdied the first five holes of the Hills course in his final round 70 for 146 to win the Super Senior title. It was his second Super Senior win at the Mid-Amateur in three years, and the second time he has bested his age with his golf score.
Jeff Knudson of Beverly Hills, who shot 76 for 148, was second, and Larry Vaughan of Greensboro shot 74 for 149 and third.
“I was in the zone I guess you would say,” Perrine said of the five consecutive birdies to start. “I hit the bottom of the flagstick on 6 and it bounced away or that would have been close and I lipped out a short chip on 7. I really could have had seven in a row. The back nine was normal stuff, but that’s easily the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course and the best I’ve ever played.”