Jenner continues to turn heads at Michigan Amateur

Published 8:07 am Friday, June 26, 2015

Austin Jenner watches his tee shot at No. 10 during the 104th Michigan Amateur Thursday. (Submitted photo)

Austin Jenner watches his tee shot at No. 10 during the 104th Michigan Amateur Thursday. (Submitted photo)

SOUTHFIELD — For the second consecutive day 17-year-old West Branch golfer Austin Jenner had the most surprising match win in the 104th Michigan Amateur Championship at Plum Hollow Country Club.

He followed up knocking off the qualifying medalist Reed Hrynewich of Muskegon on Wednesday by taking down defending champion Henry Do of Canton 2-up in a quarterfinal Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile in the other semifinals, Ryan Johnson of New Boston, knocked off Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood 3 and 1, Michigan Publinxer Bret Quitiquit of Highland took down one of the pre-tournament favorites in Otto Black of Pinckney 2 and 1 and Kory Roberts of Battle Creek topped veteran standout Steve McKalko of Troy 1-up.

Jenner will meet Johnson, last year’s GAM Champion, in an 8 a.m. semifinal Friday, and Quitiquit and Roberts square off at 8:15. The winners will meet in the afternoon for the championship.

Jenner, a mild-mannered teenager with a calm exterior who took down Justin Pahl of White Lake 5 and 3 in the round of 16 Thursday morning, said he was excited and a little intimidated playing Do.

“He made back-to-back birdies on 7 and 8 and I was feeling intimidated, but I got back in the lead and played probably one of my best rounds in a long time,” he said. “I kept it together, stayed in the process and played really well.”

He came to No. 18 with a 1-up lead and calmly knocked in a 20-foot putt from the fringe to close out the match.

“I had a good week, but he made the big putts and I didn’t make any of them,” Do said.

Jenner ‘s father John, who is serving as his caddie, said The Nightmare Golf Course pro Eric Spencer and a senior citizen regular playing partner Al Burkhart have helped prepare his son for competition.

“Eric works with him on his game, and Al messes with his mind and is like a mental coach,” John said. “I’ve told Austin all along there is nobody he can’t beat. He just has to stay focused and stay in the process.”

Johnson, a 30-year-old club fitter for Carl’s Golfland in the Detroit area, shot 78 in the first round of stroke play qualifying Monday and came into the event after missing the cut in the Michigan Open.

“I started thinking I was in a slump, but on Tuesday I played better and something clicked,” he said. “Beating Tom is huge because of his track record. It was a great match and I played great. I had a putt for 29 on the front, and I got to 5-up through 10, but Tom came back. It was a good, competitive match. I loved it.”

Johnson topped University of Detroit Mercy golfer Kyle Gaines 4 and 3 in the morning round of 16.

Quitiquit, the 26-year-old assistant golf coach at Siena Heights University, felt like his win over Black was an upset, and he was happy he survived in 19 holes against Tiffin University golfer Brett Green in the round of 16.

“Otto is such a great player with everything he is done,” he said. “He just made a couple of mistakes and I was able to take advantage. You have to take advantage of any mistakes a player like that makes. It’s a big win for me and I’m feeling the long day right now.  I’ve had tough matches.”

Quitiquit said making long runs in the Michigan Publinx Match Play Championship the last few years has given him great experience.

“I feel confident in match play,” he said. “I’m worn out right now. I’ve had a tough road. The match with Otto was my first one not to go all 18 or past. It’s great to be in the final four.”

Roberts, a 22-year-old Northwood University golfer, called his match with McKalko nerve-racking. He hit a 30-foot putt with 15 feet of break in it on 18 to inches for a conceded par, and then McKalko missed a five-foot par-saver putt and lost the hole and match.

“He is a great player and he was getting up and down from everywhere while I was hitting great shots and not making anything,” said Roberts, who also slipped past Eastern Michigan University golfer Kyle Rodes of Plymouth 1-up in the round of 16. “Crazy match, but a big win for me because I came here just wanting to play well and get in match play and keep playing well. I didn’t expect to get to the final four. It was a strange day. I made every putt this morning, and I think I used them all up. That last putt. I just told myself ‘one more good putt’ and I got it.”


104th Michigan Amateur

At Plum Hollow Country Club


Round of 16

Jenner d. Pahl 5 and 3; Do d. Varekois 2 and 1; Werkmeister d. White 6 and 5; Johnson d. Gaines 4 and 3; Black d. Ruffino 19 holes; Quitiquit d. Green 19 holes; McKalko d. Polulak 6 and 5; Roberts d. Rodes 4 and 3


Round of 8

Jenner d. Do 1-up; Johnson d. Werkmeister 3 and 1; Quitiquit d. Black 2 and 1; Roberts d. McKalko 1-up