MICHIGAN AMATEUR: Scott Strickland Strikes First Shooting 64

Written By: Greg Johnson

HARBOR SPRINGS – Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills shot a 7-under 64, his best round in several appearances in the Michigan Amateur Championship and his best round on The Heather course Monday at The Highlands at Harbor Springs.

It left the 41-year-old senior vice-president of Morgan Stanley securely in the lead through the first round of stroke play in the 113th edition of the state championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.

Strickland and the rest of the 156-golfer field will play another round of stroke play Tuesday to determine the 64 golfers to fill out the match play bracket. Two rounds of match play on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will determine the champion.

Strickland, the 2013 GAM Champion and two-time GAM Mid-Amateur Champion, said he started playing well just over a week ago when he and Jimmy Chestnut of Bloomfield Hills partnered up to win the Anderson Memorial Tournament, a prestigious best-ball invitational tournament held annually since 1933 at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

“Then yesterday I was kind of spraying it around a bit in the practice round, and Eric Spencer, who I played with in the practice round pointed out some alignment issues,” Strickland said. “I just tried to focus on that today and make sure I was getting set up right and ended up having a great day and making some nice putts, too.”

The 64, one short of the record 63 score in a stroke play round at the Amateur and the best round carded in five Amateur championships played on The Heather, featured eight birdies and one bogey. A closing 7-iron from 190 yards over the famed pond at No. 18 rolled up to within four-feet of the cup for his final birdie putt.

Strickland said the key shot of the day was a rescue shot from a penalty area on the second hole of the day.

“I managed to get it out of there and save par and that settled the nerves,” he said. “Then I just played well except for a bad tee ball on 14 where I made the one bogey.”

Two collegiate golfers, Evan McDermott of Spring Lake and the University of Nebraska, and Drew Coble of Lake Orion and Grand Valley State University, were the closest pursuers of Strickland after 3-under 68s.

Sam Yono of West Bloomfield and Eastern Michigan University, Charles DeLong of DeWitt and Texas Tech and Chet VandenBerg of Portage turned in 69s, and eight more golfers shot 70.

Despite shooting the near-record score Strickland noted that his caddie stole the show. His 10-year-old daughter Corinne manned the pull-cart and clubs.

“I threw it out there and asked her if she would want to caddie,” Strickland said. “She said, ‘absolutely.’ I gave her a couple of outs and she didn’t want to take them. She did a fantastic job, and it was special because she’s turning into a pretty good little golfer in her own right, so to experience this with her and let her see some of the tournament golf I play is really cool.”

Strickland said she would get her choice of post-round meal, ice cream, whatever she wanted. Corinne said she wanted to be on the bag for the second round, too.

“If she wants, let’s keep this thing rolling,” he said.

McDermott, who was redshirted at Nebraska this year and has three years of eligibility remaining, said he was playing in his first tournament since last summer.

“It’s been a long year with redshirting and its good to finally see all the hard work on my game come to fruition,” he said. “The course was great. With all the rain lately, they did a great job of getting it in shape. The greens rolled really well today and even with being soft the fairways were great. I feel really good about the way I played today and hopefully we can make a good run this week.”

Coble, who was the GLIAC Player of the Year for the Lakers and a finalist for the national player of the year Nicklaus Award, said he played in last week’s Michigan Open Championship and struggled to make the cut.

“I went back to Grand Valley to grind on the game for a couple of days and try to improve,” he said. “I played pretty solid today, but it’s just the start. I just want to play solid tomorrow and see where I end up for match play.”

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