Michigan Wins 12th USGA Men’s State Team Championship


Big Friday Performance Leads to First State Team Title for Michigan

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A hot start by Tom Werkmeister and a clutch closing birdie by Evan Bowser allowed Michigan to erase a four-stroke deficit and win the 12th USGA Men’s State Team Championship on the par-71, 7,044-yard West Course at the Country Club of Birmingham.

The title is the first in the championship’s history for Michigan, which posted a final-round score of 5-under 137 to secure a three-stroke victory over Arizona and North Carolina with a 54-hole total of 4-under 422.

Werkmeister, 48, notched five birdies over his first 12 holes on Friday to allow Michigan to climb past the other contending teams and build what was at one point a four-stroke advantage. The Grandville resident was able to keep his card devoid of bogeys through that stretch, getting up and down from a tough spot on the par-3 eighth hole thanks to a 12-foot par putt. He followed that up with an 8-foot birdie on No. 9 to make the turn in 3-under 32. He went on to post a 4-under 67.

“I missed a couple of putts early in the round. I’m like, well, at least I’m hitting it close. I’ve got chances, right? And then the putts started falling and I started kind of getting in the groove,” said Werkmeister, who made six birdies during his round. “It was just really, really cool, waiting for the last groups to come in, hanging out with our teammates, fist bumping and hugging and slapping high fives. At that point I thought, win or lose, this is really cool.”

Bowser carded one birdie and 12 pars over his first 13 holes to give the Wolverine State a cushion heading into the closing stretch. However, a bogey on No. 14, coupled with Werkmeister’s first bogey of his round on No. 15, opened the door for two of their closest pursuers, Arizona and North Carolina.

Arizona’s Ken Tanigawa made his fifth birdie of the day on the par-5 15thto move to 3-under on his round and put his squad at 3 under for the championship, just one back of Michigan. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Justin Tereshko, who was playing with Werkmeister, struggled out of the gate with an outward 3-over 38, but poured in five birdies in a six-hole stretch to move his team to within one stroke of the lead.

“I knew on 15, 16, 17 and 18 that we were one back. I was trying to make some birdies coming in,” said Arizona’s Cory Bacon, who shot 1-over 72 in the final round. “On this golf course you can try to play for par or you have to push it a little bit to make birdie. So I definitely was trying to make some birdies.”

#18 at Country Club of Birmingham-West Course courtesy USGA/Russell Kirk
#18 at Country Club of Birmingham-West Course courtesy USGA/Russell Kirk

Bogeys by Tereshko and Bacon on No. 18, and Tanigawa on No. 17, coupled with Werkmeister birdieing No. 17 and Bowser draining a 15-foot birdie putt at the last, finally gave Michigan the cushion it needed for victory.

“Tom shot 67, and I had to watch it,” said Tereshko, who posted a 1-under 70. He credited his turnaround with changing his putting grip on his inward nine. “It was very frustrating when I thought I may get a leg up on him and he’d make an 8- to-10 footer for par, and he did it all day, he played well.”

Bowser’s birdie on No. 18 completed a 1-under 70 for the 21-year-old from Dearborn. The recent graduate of Oakland University helped his mother fight ALS before she succumbed to the disease in 2011, and the perspective he gained on life from that experience has helped him embrace an achievement like this even more than he might have before her death.

“I have been kind of a different player ever since then. Just more relaxed. I appreciate things like this much more now. Life, you never know what can happen,” said Bowser. “I’m happy to win. I’m happy to play a great course.”

The victory in the Men’s State Team was a big leap for Michigan, which finished tied for 36th in 2014 and had never finished in the top 10 in the championship. The state’s best performances came in 2005 and 2012, when it placed 11th. Werkmeister envisions the impact that he, Bowser and Anthony Sorentino will have when they bring the James Hand Trophy back to their home state.

“It’s great. Each time I’ve played in this, I’ve seen other states getting recognition for being previous winners or seeing the pictures with them celebrating,” said Werkmeister, who has represented his state five times. “It’s like, I want to do that, I want us to do that. This is big for the state of Michigan. Really big.”

Werkmeister’s 54-hole total of 5-under 208 tied him for the low individual score in the championship, with Jay Whitby of Delaware. Whitby was able to compete in the final round despite his team missing the cut, since he was within five strokes of the individual lead after 36 holes.

Florida finished in fourth place at 2-over  428. Connecticut, the 36-hole leader, finished in a tie for fifth with Minnesota and Washington at 430.

The United States Golf Association conducts the USGA Men’s State Team Championship on a biennial basis. It features teams of three players from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Eighteen holes of stroke play are conducted over three days, with the two lowest scores of the three individuals counting as the team’s score for the round.


Champions Crowned at PNGA Senior Team Championships

Bremerton, Wash.

At the 34th Pacific Northwest Senior Team Championships, Erik Hanson of Kirkland, Wash. and Craig Larson of Tacoma won the Men’s Senior Team title; Charlie Wozow and Toat Brandvold, both of Snohomish, Wash. won the Men’s Super Senior; Jackie Little of Port Alberni, B.C. and Kathryn McGarvey of North Vancouver, B.C. won the Women’s Senior; and Mary Ryan of Renton, Wash. and Sun Douthit of Steilacoom, Wash. won the Women’s Super Senior.
The four championships were held this week on the Olympic and Cascade courses at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash. and were conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
Each championship consisted of two-person teams, and were contested over 54 holes. The first and third round of each championship was contested in Four-Ball stroke play format, while the second round was held in the Chapman format. To be eligible, entrants must be 50 years of age or older prior to start of play in the first round.
Hanson and Larson had started today’s final round with a 2-shot lead, and poured it on in today’s Four-Ball format, shooting a bogey-free 6-under par 66. They charged from the gate, shooting 4-under on the front nine and coasting in from there. They finished at 15-under par for the championship, five shots ahead of second-place finishers Larry Gilhuly and Jim McNelis, both of Gig Harbor, Wash.
Of the win, Hanson said it feels great. “I was glad Craig called me this year to partner with him,” he said. “I couldn’t make it last year, but it’s great to be here at Gold Mountain. We played solid, we’re a good team, and it paid off for us.” Larson had to inform Hanson of the format for the championship the week before play started. “That is true,” Hanson said with a laugh. “I wasn’t familiar with this particular championship, and was happy to be eligible for it. It’s a fun event, I really enjoyed it, and it’s great playing with Craig. The Chapman format was different for me, but the key to it really is just to keep the ball in play, stay out of trouble for your partner.”
This is the fifth PNGA title for Hanson, having won the PNGA Master-40 three times and the Mid-Amateur once, but it is the first PNGA title for Larson. “It’s really an honor,” Larson said, of seeing his name on a championship trophy. Watch their post-championship  interview here.
Wozow and Brandvold came from behind in today’s final round to capture the Men’s Super Senior title, carding a 1-under par 71 for a championship total of 2-under par. They finished one shot better than second-place finishers Mick and Jeff Remington, who were at the top of the leaderboard with a seemingly comfortable 3-shot lead to start the day but couldn’t get anything going, shooting a 3-over par 75 which enabled Wozow and Brandvold to grab the title.
“It’s exciting,” said Brandvold, of being the champions of the inaugural playing of the Men’s Super Senior. “Thanks, really, to everyone who put this event together, all the volunteers. We had a great time, and we’ll be back next year.
“We struggled in the second round, in the Chapman format,” said Wozow. “We just kind of scraped it around, but played much better today.” Watch their post-championship  interview here.
In the Women’s Senior Team, the duo of Little and McGarvey combined to shoot a final round 2-under par 70 to seal their victory.
Little and McGarvey had built a four shot lead heading into today’s final round, and combined for four birdies against two bogeys on the day to finish five shots ahead of second-place finishers Ginny Burkey of Eugene, Ore. and Lisa Smego of Oro Valley, Ariz. Little and McGarvey were the only team to finish the championship under par.
This is the first time Little and McGarvey have competed together as a team. “I was very nervous,” McGarvey said afterward. “Jackie is a legend, a really good player, and I was just hoping to be respectable.” But Little said McGarvey more than held her own, making three birdies on her own today. “We ham-and-egged it very well for three days,” Little said.
“The chemistry that we had going, especially yesterday, was really special,” McGarvey said. “Yesterday’s Chapman format is different because you’re not playing every shot, and you’re putting balls into positions where your partner is not used to, it’s a real challenge, and somehow we found a way to make it work.”
This is the first title in this championship for the two but the third time Jackie has become a PNGA Champion, having won the Senior Women’s Championship twice (2008, 2009). Little was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame of BC in 2009.
Watch their post-victory interview HERE.

Burkey and Smego, who were the first-round leaders, had been looking for a three-peat, having won this championship the past two years.
In the inaugural Women’s Super Senior, Ryan and Douthit started the final round two shots behind second-round leaders Mary O’Donnell of Bellevue, Wash. and Carol Dick of Lakewood, Wash., but Ryan and Douthit shot an impressive 4-over par to overtake O’Donnell and Dick, winning by three shots.
To compete in these championships this week, players came from all parts of the region, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, Alberta, as well as from California and Arizona.
Click here for more information on the Men’s, and here for information on the Women’s, including final hole-by-hole scoring and a list of past champions.