Grandville’s Tom Werkmeister Captures Elusive GAMChampionship at Barton Hills

  ANN ARBOR – Tom Werkmeister
finally got the one major state championship that had eluded him.

  The new Grandville
resident shot a closing 1-over 71 for a 5-under 205 total and four-shot win in
the 95th GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Barton Hills Country
Club Tuesday.

  “I thought about
this one for a long time, and it bothered me that I had not won it,” the
48-year-old who has won the Michigan Amateur, the Michigan Open, the Horton
Smith, the Michigan Medal Play Championship, multiple GAM Mid-Amateurs and
dominated in West Michigan amateur events.

  “Before I ever won
anything in the state, I thought this would be the one that was my best chance –
a 54-hole medal play tournament,” he said. “For some reason it was the hardest
one to get. I don’t know why it took so long, but it was finally my turn I

  He did it despite a
triple-bogey 7, which came via five putts, including a couple of lip-outs, to
finish on the dangerous sloping green at the par 4 No. 13 hole. His eight-shot
lead was suddenly trimmed to five.

  “I was mad, but the
pins were tough, really tough, and other than what happened there, I putted
great all tournament,” he said. “A few days before this tournament in Kalamazoo
(Invitational) I figured something out about my putting, and I hit the ball and
putted great really.”

  Alex Dombrowski of
Gaylord, a 21-year-old senior to be this fall at Princeton University, finished
with a 70 and 1-under 209 total for second place. He also admired Werkmeister’s
finish after the triple bogey.

  “After that on 13 to
still grind it out and stick an approach shot on 16, hats off to Tom,” he said.
“Those are not easy finishing holes. A lot of guys would have let that derail
their round, so it was impressive to watch. It shows a lot. It’s a testament to
his character to get right back to his game like that. I was taking notes for

  Evan Bowser of
Dearborn, Tom Gelardi of Whitmore Lake and defending champion Mitchell White
tied for third at 211. White closed with a 70, Bowser a 72 and Gelardi a 73.

  Jake Kneen of White
Lake finished sixth with a 69 for 214, and two-time champion Casey Baker of
Novi (74) tied Jack Weller of Swartz Creek (72) at 215.

  Andrew Chapman of
Traverse City (75), Dan Ellis of East Lansing (71), James Piot of Canton (74)
and Kyle Rodes of Plymouth (74) tied at 216.

  Dombrowski said things could have been
different if he put some pressure on Werkmeister early in the round.

  “I knew he wasn’t
going to slip up much, he never does,” he said. “I hit the ball a lot better
than I did yesterday. It was a big improvement. Some putts just didn’t drop.
That happens. “

  Werkmeister started
the day with a four-shot lead on Gelardi and five on Dombrowski. He said he hit
the ball and putted great on Monday.

  “Today was still
pretty good, and I made some putts,” he said. “I had that fiasco over there (at
13), but I putted really well. I knew I still had a good lead fortunately, and
just played my game on in, which is pars down the stretch.”

  Werkmeister, who has
recovered fully from a broken arm over the winter, said he loved the difficult
pin placements, and Donald Ross-designed courses like Barton Hills are his

  “I like the
challenge of a tough set-up, so I enjoyed that,” he said. “It was nice to win.
I was having a good summer, won the (Grand Rapids) City Match Play, had a few
seconds and a fifth at the Michigan Open, but this makes it really good.”

-Greg Johnson