Preston tops former champ to win the Michigan Amateur

Michigan Open2By Greg Johnson

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Drew Preston of Ada always looked up to Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood while growing up playing golf in the Grand Rapids area.

“It really couldn’t be scripted better,” he said after topping Werkmeister 2-up in the championship match of the 101st Michigan Amateur Championship on the Oakland Hills Country Club North course Friday afternoon. “It feels awesome to beat a guy like Tom. I remember looking up to him and thinking I want to be able to play with him someday. Now, I’m here, and it’s pretty gratifying.”

Preston, 21, called it a long week. He even dashed to Ohio to take a final exam on the history of Nazi Germany at Bowling Green State University after playing in Monday’s opening round. He has 12 credits remaining at BGSU, but has used up his golf eligibility where he won twice in four years but slumped his final season.

“I been working and going to school and practiced about eight days before this to have a good showing year,” he said. “This was a very hard year in college golf. This is best felt about my game in a long time. I needed it. I do have pro aspirations, but with some of the scores I was shooting there for a while, I was kind of you know, not too sure about it.”

Werkmeister, a 44-year-old internet salesman who won the 2009 Michigan Amateur, struggled with his game on the back nine after playing three consecutive matches with extra holes before the final.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said after losing an early 2-up lead and never trailing until No. 15. “I certainly played rather poorly and gave a lot of holes away. I mean he did what he had to do to win the holes. We both struggled out there on the back. He didn’t struggle as bad.”

Losing to a fellow West Michigan golfer made it easier to take Werkmeister said.

“I like Drew, he’s a great kid,” he said. “I’ve known him for a handful of years. He has a great family. He’s a really nice kid so I can’t help but feel good for him.”

Preston, who is considering a professional career, took his first lead on No. 15 when Werkmeister played to bogey. At 18, he made a 12-foot birdie putt after hitting a wedge shot from a side-hill lie in the left rough to close out the match.

“It’s so great to win here at Oakland Hills,” Preston said. “I mean, the history here is amazing. To be a champion here – I can’t even get my head around that yet. It will take a while to sink in.”

In the morning semifinals, Werkmeister beat another Grand Rapids area golfer. Brian Hayward battled him for 19 holes before Werkmeister won with a birdie on No. 1. Preston meanwhile, topped his former college teammate, Wes Gates of Novi, 4 and 3. Gates, who is still a BGSU student and golfer, had a highlight shot of the morning.

He made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole with a 5-iron shot from 201 yards. It was the third ace of his life, and second while playing golf with Preston.

Semi Finals Match Play Results:
Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood, def. Brian Hayward, Grand Rapids, 19 Holes Drew Preston, Ada, def. Wesley Gates, Novi 4&3

Final Match Play Results:
Preston def. Werkmeister 2 Up


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