Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — CHAPMAN’S FINAL BIRDIE WINS MICHIGAN AMATEUR
MUSKEGON — Andrew Chapman said over three years ago his golf game was as low as low can be.
He was soaring high with the game after making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Muskegon Country Club on Saturday to win the 102nd Michigan Amateur Championship.
Chapman, a 33-year-old financial planner, Grand Blanc native, Traverse City resident and father of twin boys, turned back former Major League Baseball pitcher Mike Ignasiak of Saline 1-up in the championship match.
“It means a lot,” Chapman said. “This is a huge highlight for me. It seemed like every match when it ended this week had a surreal feel to it for me. I played very well in spots, but sloppy and got away with it in spots, too. I don’t know. It’s amazing.”
The match went back and forth through the afternoon, but it appeared Chapman was pulling away to win with a 2-up lead after the 15th hole. He hit his drive in the fescue left though on No. 16 and lost the hole, and then hit a drive left again on No. 17 and three-putted. The match went to 18 for the final dramatics.
Chapman hit his second shot from the left rough to the right rough several feet down a slope to the right of the green on the 550-yard par 5 last hole. He then pitched it to 20 feet, and made the putt on a line similar to that of Ignasiak, who had about an 18-foot putt after his second shot from the fairway went over the green a few yards. Ignasiak just missed his putt to the right of the cup.
“That was just grueling,” Ignasiak said. “The pins are so hard. What a test of patience today. Andrew was just a little bit better in the short game that I was. He made some great up-and-downs. The one on 18, a chip-in on 9 and the up-and-down at 12 were all great. I tried. I didn’t give up. ”
Chapman beat Brad Bastion, a 28-year-old retirement planner from Clinton Township 3 and 2 in the morning semifinal, and Ignasiak turned back 51-year-old corporate vice-president Tom Gieselman of Commerce Township 3 and 2 in the other semifinal.
That set up the final between two former University of Michigan athletes. Chapman, who earlier in the tournament beat last week’s Michigan Open champion Tom Werkmeister, played golf for the Wolverines, and Ignasiak baseball.
“Andrew is a great guy, a deserving champion,” said Ignasiak, 47.
Chapman noted that six months ago he started putting two dots on his ball to remind him of his twin seven-month-old boys Graeme and Lincoln, who were on hand with mother, Brooke.
“Mike puts three dots on his ball for his kid,” he said. “He’s a great guy, a great player. It’s a great accomplishment to beat him.”
As for his low point with golf three years ago, Chapman said he had to mention Scott Hebert, the head PGA professional at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
“He was so patient with me, and we rebuilt my game step by step,” he said. “He’s a big part of this.”