BLOOMFIELD HILLS – Bowling Green teammates and pals Drew Preston (Ada) and Wesley Gates (Novi) will face off in a semi-final match at the 101st Michigan Amateur tomorrow morning at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Preston defeated Jimmy Dewling (Brighton) 3&2 in his quarterfinal match and Gates defeated Oakland Hills CC club champion Bill O’Connor 8&6.
“Drew (Preston) was our best player at Bowling Green and he is a golfer who I try to model myself after,” said Gates. “He is really a good player and I’ve tried to learn from him while I’ve been at Bowling Green.”
Preston estimates that he and Gates have played about 200 matches together in college and gives himself the edge in the battle for bragging rights at Bowling Green.
“I want to beat Wes tomorrow bad,” said Preston. “He said he models himself after me? I’ll have to ask him if he wants to take notes after I hit a good shot tomorrow.”
All the kidding is good natured between the two friends. Both are looking forward to enjoying a round of golf with someone they know well.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow because I’m just going to get up and play a round of golf with my friend and we can just play and talk and enjoy the day,” said Preston. “Match play has never been my forte and I think it is because I’m too nice. I just don’t go into it with the killer instinct that you need. But this week I set a goal to be more aggressive and that has worked for me.”
Preston said he felt both he and Gates might have an advantage at this week’s Michigan Amateur where the wind has been brisk at times. Gusts are something they both deal with as college players many, many times.
“Where we play at Bowling Green it is so flat that it is windy like this all of the time so we are really used to it,” said Preston.
Gates and O’Connor knew each other from Detroit Golf Club where O’Connor used to be a member and Gates’ dad is the head professional. Gates watched O’Connor play and practice when he was growing up and tried to model his work ethic and his style of play.
“He was the top dog at Detroit Golf Club,” said Gates. “I never played with Bill before today but I’ve watched him a lot when I was growing up and he is a great player. To be able to beat someone of his caliber is just a tremendous feeling.”
O’Connor remembers Gates from Detroit Golf Club and says that he has never seen anyone hit the ball as long as Gates.
“He hits the ball long, but he has a great, all-around game,” said O’Connor. “After our match he came shook my hand and said, ‘It was a pleasure beating you today Mr. O’Connor.’ It was funny but it was very sincere. Wes is a class act.”
Stroke play medalist Brian Hayward (Ada) survived his quarterfinal match against Austin Eccleton (Jackson) 3 & 1. Tom Werkmeister (Kentwood) who was the Michigan Amateur champion in 2009 at Spring Meadows, survived a grueling quarterfinal round versus 2010 champion Joey Garber and defeated him in 22 holes.
Thursday Sweet 16 Match Play Results (AP):
Brian Hayward, Saline, def. Brett Hudson, Bloomfield Hills, 2&1
Austin Eccleton, Jackson, def. Eric Spencer, Bloomfield Hills 19 Holes
Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood, def. Tom Gieselman, Milford, 2 Up
Joey Garber, Petoskey, def Brian Burt, Lansing by forfeit (no show)
Drew Preston, Ada, def Michael Castlefote, Birmingham, 2 Up
Jimmy Dewling, Brighton, def. Chet VandenBerg, Martin, 20 Holes
Bill O’Connor, Birmingham, def. Joshua Bauer, Waterford, 1 Up
Wesley Gates, Novi, def. Chris Mory, Haslett, 3&2
Thursday, Quarterfinal Match Play Results (AP):
Hayward def. Eccelton, 3&1
Preston def. Dewling, 3&2
Gates def. O’Conner, 8&6
Werkmeister def. Garber 22 Holes