Saisha Patil, Julian Sinishtaj Win GAM 14 & Under Match Play Titles

EAST LANSING – Julian Sinishtaj of Macomb and Saisha Patil of Okemos each won three nine-hole matches to emerge as champions in the rain-hampered 7th GAM 14 & Under Match Play Championship presented by Absopure Wednesday at Woodside Golf Course.

With heavy rain washing out part of Tuesday’s first day of play, the championship flights for boys and girls were forced to play quarterfinal, semifinal and final matches on Wednesday.

Sinishtaj, 14, beat Benjamin Vento of Rochester Hills 1-up in the first match of the day, then came from behind to top Sumner Meekhof of Coopersville 1-up in the semifinal match and then beat Chris Quayle of Grand Blanc 3 and 2 in the championship match.

Quayle got to the final with a 3 and 1 win over Silas Combs of Clarkston and a 2 and 1 win over Tommy Preston of Grand Rapids.

Patil, 12, earned her title by beating Presley Kiehler of South Lyon 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals, then topping Madison Manning of Dexter 3 and 2 in the semifinal and finally battling two extra holes for an 11-holes win over Anika Srivastava in the final.

Srivastava, who is also from Okemos and will be classmates with Patil at Chippewa Middle School this year, reached the final with a 2-up win over Olivia Housler of Ann Arbor and a 4 and 2 win over McKenzie Stevens of Northville.

Sinishtaj said he won his first GAM title because of his putter. He made a 10-foot par putt to get the lead on the fifth hole and then closed out the final match with Quayle by dropping another 10-footer at No. 7.

“It was definitely my putting that got me through,” he said. “I made some good putts and also got a break in the second match when (Meekhof) lost one off the tee on the last hole. That was after I had just tied the match. I was in trouble for a while.”

Sinishtaj said it felt great to hold the trophy in the end and that three matches had him feeling a little tired.

“This shows my hard work is paying off though,” he said.

Patil was weary and hot after her 11-hole final with Srivastava. She said she was also nervous when she was 2-down through six holes only to rally by winning the seventh and eighth holes of the match.

“I wasn’t sure if I would be able to win those holes,” she said.

The duo tied holes 9 and 10 on the unique 12-hole Woodside course, and at No. 11 Patil hit a pitching wedge shot over the top of the flag to about 25 feet from the cup. Meanwhile Srivastava missed the green left and struggled to make a bogey. Patil two-putted for par and the win.

“I feel good, it’s a big accomplishment for me,” said Patil who also has won a GAM Junior Stroke Play age 11-12 title. “Honestly, my goal was to get at least a top three (finish). My chipping really helped me a lot all day when I had bad approach shots.”

Champions were also crowned in several other flights in the championship designed to give young junior golfers experience in stroke play and match play.

-Greg Johnson [email protected]