TRAVERSE CITY — The pressure was completely off Andrew Chapman’s shoulders.
After winning the 102nd Michigan Amateur Championship in June, Chapman was able to play carefree golf for the rest of the summer.
That was both a blessing and a curse for Chapman’s game.
“Personally, that was an accomplishment of a big goal,” said Chapman, a 33-year-old financial advisor from Traverse City. “I sort of felt like the pressure was off for the rest of the summer and that allowed me to play well in spots and I was not quite as sharp in other spots.”
Chapman’s victory at this year’s Amateur at Muskegon Country Club is No. 9 in the Record-Eagle’s top 10 sports stories of 2013. The win came after Chapman buried a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the championship match against former Major League Baseball player Mike Ignasiak. Both were former athletes at the University of Michigan — Chapman as a golfer and Ignasiak as a baseball player.
Chapman, who put together a nice string of rounds to win the tournament, was 2-up on Ignasiak after 15 holes, but lost the 16th and 17th holes after an errant drive on 16 and a three-putt on 17 put the match all-square heading into the last hole.
He started the 18th hole with a drive into the left rough, then put a shot into the right rough to the right of the green on the par-5 hole. He pitched his third shot to 20 feet of the hole, then sank what ended up being the winning putt to capture the title.
Chapman got to the final after beating Brad Bastion 3-and-2 in the semifinals. He also defeated red-hot Michigan Open winner Tom Werkmeister over 21 holes earlier in the tournament.
After hoisting the championship trophy though, Chapman found it tough to maintain a consistent level of stellar play over the next few months.
“It was hard because I never really had that tense, nervous feeling after that because that was a pretty big win for me. I have no complaints overall. That win made it an amazing season for me,” said Chapman.
Chapman already has his eye on defending his title at next year’s event, which will be played at legendary Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix. The course, which hosted every Amateur from 1963-88 is hosting the event for the first time since 2003 and the 40th time overall.
“When I made it past the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8, those folks are exempt into the following year,” said Chapman. “So to not have to qualify and know that I can play close to home at Belvedere in Charlevoix was a big thrill. That was almost as exciting as winning for me.”
Until then, Chapman is working hard on his game. While northern Michigan’s courses are buried under piles of snow for the next few months, Chapman has been heading over to the Grand Traverse Resort.
“I get out to the resort as much as I can. I’ve actually been able to get better over the winter the last couple of years because of the technology they have out there,” said Chapman. “You hit balls into a screen and you get a digital printout of more information than you can almost process. I actually look forward to winter because I feel my game gets better when I have that very data-oriented accountability to my practice. Obviously, I I’ll be ready to play once the snow melts, but I don’t mind winter at all. I like trying to get better.”