Written By: Greg Johnson
FLINT – Mike Ignasiak of Saline called it a grind, especially after the heat of the last two days and then having to play Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Davies of West Bloomfield in the championship match.
“Those last eight guys in the bracket, any one of them can win this tournament easily,” he said. “Then to go up against Greg in the final – he’s a Hall of Famer who never gives up. He’s never out of a hole. I don’t care where he hits it. He always seems to chip in or make a long putt. He does things that are kind of ‘hey, don’t forget about me. I’m still here.’”
Following a critical par save on hole 16 to keep a 1-up lead Ignasiak won the 17th hole with a par to hold off Davies 2 and 1 in the title match of the 15th GAM Senior Match Play Championship presented by Stifel Investment Services Friday at Flint Golf Club.
“I was playing so good coming in and I was feeling really confident because this course suits me,” said Ignasiak, a 57-year-old former Major League Baseball pitcher who as an amateur golfer is a former GAM Mid-Amateur champion (2007) and runner-up to Andrew Chapman in the Michigan Amateur Championship (2013).
“I got tired, but I hit a lot of good shots and took advantage of the par 5s and it made for a really good week. This is a big win. It’s right up there among the best wins I’ve had.”
The best was a theme for the final day. The Super Senior Division for golfers over age 65 featured a pair of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members in the title match.
John Morgan of Novi, who has played little tournament golf since 1996, celebrated his return by topping defending champion Bill Zylstra of Dearborn Heights 3 and 2 in the final match.
“I’m back,” said Morgan, a 66-year-old now-retired auto sales executive who was the GAM Golfer of the Decade in the 1980s after winning the 1985 Michigan Amateur Championship, the 1983 and ’84 GAM Championship and the first two of his three GAM Mid-Amateur titles (1985, ’88 and ’96).
“I feel fantastic. It’s such a great honor to get my name on a trophy again. To come out for the first time in however many years and have a special week feels really good.”
Ignasiak, who beat 2021 winner David LeVan of Ann Arbor in the semifinals 3 and 2 to reach the final match, faced a 1-down deficit through 10 holes, but then turned the match with consecutive birdies on the back-to-back par 5s, Nos. 11 and 12.
“I made a good chip on 11 to inside three feet for birdie, then on 12 I hit a great hybrid over the trees and had about a 20-footer for eagle and made birdie,” he said. “I kept the lead and then at 16 I went under that shot and had to chip again, and that putt was about a 15-footer with a double break in it. That one stung Greg I think. It was big.”
Morgan, who beat 2013 champion Mike Raymond of Jackson 2-up in the Super Senior semifinals, trailed early against Zylstra, but battled back by the turn. He made consecutive birdies at holes 13 and 14 with putts inside 10 feet and went 4-up at that point.
“Those holes owed me because I bogeyed them in some of the other matches,” he said. “Those were really good birdies.”
Morgan said he has maintained flexibility and it is critical to his golf swing.
“I can still move it and playing in the Super Senior I’ve got a little bit of advantage in hitting it out there and hitting shorter irons in,” he said. “I was swinging good all week, too. I didn’t putt that well, but it was a good ball-striking week. You hit it in the middle of these greens and you are going to have some birdie putts.”