MICHIGAN JUNIOR STATE AMATEUR: Will Preston of Grand Rapids Wins

Written By: Greg Johnson

KEWADIN – Will Preston of Grand Rapids stayed steady and ready and won the 45th Michigan Junior State Amateur Championship at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort Thursday.

  The senior-to-be at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School never trailed in topping 16-year-old Connor Fox of Lake Orion 3 and 1 in the championship match on the Sundance Course.

  “I made some key putts, made several birdies and I just stayed steady through the grind,” Preston said. “All through the week I made minimal bogeys and in match play that is always beneficial. To beat you, they have to make more birdies.”

  Key putts for birdie helped Troy Nguyen of Macomb win the 15-and-under division title, too. He turned back Cooper Reitsma of Ada 3 and 1 in the final match. Reitsma, a Grand Rapids Christian High student, was the stroke play medalist earlier in the week.

  The final matches were set up by morning semifinals. Preston earned his spot in the title match with a 4 and 3 win over Christian Morneau of Windsor while Fox fought off Rykert Frisinger of Coldwater 1-up.

  In the 15-and-under semifinals Nguyen beat Sawyer O’Grady of Grand Rapids 2 and 1, while Reitsma topped Jack Whitmore of Northville.

  In the championship match Preston birdied hole No. 1 and then hole No. 3 for an early lead. After Fox tied the match at No. 8, Preston won No. 9 with a par and Nos. 10 and 11 with birdies to build a 3-up lead. He never trailed in the match.

  “I don’t think I ever trailed by more than (1-down) all week,” he said . “And then, yeah, in several of the matches I broke through pretty quick. It feels good to get through the grind and win in the end. It’s a lot of golf in four days and in match play you never know what is going to happen.”

  Preston’s week included knocking off stroke play medalist Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester Hills 3 and 1 in the second round, while Fox knocked off defending champion Max VanderMolen of Richland in 20 holes in the second round.

   Fox, who will be a junior at Lake Orion High School, said he felt good about his runner-up performance.

  “I’m pretty happy to make it as far as I did, especially because I had to go to playoffs (extra holes) in my first couple of matches,” he said. “Will just played better than me. He made birdies and I wasn’t hitting my wedges close enough.”

  Nguyen, who will be a sophomore at De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, said the win in the 15-and-under meant everything to him.

  “I have been working really hard for something like this,” he said. “I barely got into match play, but then I was able to make some big putts and play consistently. I just tried to not make too many mistakes, and today against Cooper (Reitsma) I made a couple of long putts for birdie when he had shorter putts. It helped me keep the lead.”