Andy Matthews, Sophie Stevens Win GAM Tournament of Champions

GROSSE ILE – Andy Matthews of Grand Rapids and Sophie Stevens of Highland capped off the golf season with wins in the GAM Tournament of Champions presented by Garland Lodge & Golf Resort Monday at Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club.

  Matthews, a 42-year-old former tour professional and reinstated amateur, was the only golfer under par with a 2-under 69 to top the men in the traditional season-ending Golf Association of Michigan tournament.

  Stevens, the 16-year-old home-schooled junior standout who won the GAM Women’s Championship this summer, shot an even-par 71 to top the female champions.

   The championship brought together the winners of a GAM member club championship or a GAM tournament over the summer.

  David Vaclav, a 56-year-old Grosse Ile G&CC member from Flat Rock, shot 71 for second among the men. Defending champion Chet Vandenberg and Mac Horvath of Riverview tied for third with 72s.

  Laura Bavaird, a 36-year-old reinstated amateur and GAM Foundation director who grew up playing Grosse Ile G&CC, shot 76 for second among the women. Hanna VanderMoere of Fruitport shot 79 and finished third.

  Matthews, the director of golf performance for Neuropeak Pro who works with PGA, Korn Ferry and LPGA tour players, was a team captain of the men’s golf team at the University of Michigan, won the 2001 Michigan Amateur Championship and played professionally for 10 years with a notable Mexican PGA win while playing on PGA Tour Canada.

  He plays mostly his country club tournaments and some West Michigan Golf Association events these days, but said he loves to compete and came to win Monday as the Kent Country Club champion.

  “I hit 16 greens, played my irons really well and hit a lot of fairways, too,” he said. “The golf course was awesome and I still love to compete. My (college) freshman year roommate has been a longtime member, so I came down and played a practice round yesterday. I’ve played here several times over the years and this is by far the best I’ve ever seen it. The greens were fast and I like the changes they have made in the last few years to the bunkers. It’s impressive and I enjoyed playing it.”

  Stevens, who is a senior home schooler and will sing in November with Florida for college golf, was touting the golf course, too.

  “I love it, everything was rolling really nice,” she said. “The speed of the greens caught me off guard at first, and it took me a while to get the speed, but I gave myself some good looks and played pretty consistent.”

  Stevens said it was a good way to cap a year in which her bad golf improved.

   “I didn’t hit everything beautifully, but I would still hit greens and I hit a lot more fairways than I did last year,” she said. “It feels good to win on a good golf course that tests your putting.”