Zylstra, McDonald Prevail at GAM Senior

ANN ARBOR – Bill Zylstra (Plymouth) took a roller coaster ride for 18 holes at the 24th GAM Senior Championship at Barton Hills Country Club on Tuesday.  He posted five birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey to win the championship with a 71-72 – 143.

“Monday was kind of weird because I had those bogeys and still managed to win,” said Zylstra. “Of course, the five birdies helped. It was either feast of famine out there.”

While there were a lot of good scores on Sunday, the strong winds caused scores to go up on the second day of the tournament. As he was working his way around the links, Zylstra figured any score close to par would give him a chance to win.

“I really didn’t know until the last hole that I had won, but I had an inkling because no one came up to me to say that someone else was doing really well or had a good hole or anything,” said Zylstra. “It just didn’t look like anyone was enjoying themselves on the last holes so that made me think I was doing O.K.  I knew scores were going to be higher the second day because the course played firmer and faster and the wind was blowing – it was really howling for awhile. But it calmed down on the backside so I caught a break.”

Zylstra said he felt he hit the ball well overall, but that his putting never quite got on track as much as he would have liked. Still, he is extremely happy with the victory.

“No one is ever happy with their putter,” said Zylstra. “I don’t think anyone is happy with anything they do in golf; you always have the highs and lows – kind of like dating. You never get sick of winning though.”

Zylstra won the GAM Senior Championship in 2008 at Point O’Woods. He and his playing partner Tim Katanski won the GAM Mid-Am Team Championship at Plum Hollow this year.

Bill McDonald (Troy), 66, shot a bogey on his first playoff hole at the Barton Hills Tuesday to win the championship in the Super Senior division.

“My competitor had a double bogey so he was very gracious to me,” quipped McDonald of Corky Hancock (South Rockwood).

McDonald shot 73-78—151 for the two-day event at the Donald Ross-designed course.  He said the second day was a challenge because of the gusting wind and his sore back.

“I think the second day I was tired and my back was sore so I didn’t have my best swing,” said McDonald. “My second round started out shaky but I birdied two par 3s – number 8 and number 17 – and that really helped me today.”

The last time McDonald played Barton Hills was 18 years ago. Since then, he notes there have been some changes to the course that in his mind only enhanced his rounds at the Senior Championship.

“I can tell they enlarged the greens and added new bunkers,” said McDonald. “It is just a beautiful course.”