Nick Gunthorpe

Nick Gunthorpe

BLOOMFIELD TWP. — Nick Gunthorpe shot a 1-over 71 Wednesday to finish at even par during stroke play at the Michigan Amateur, tying for eighth overall.

Gunthorpe offset a triple-bogey on the 17th hole by birdieing three of his first five holes at Oakland Hills County Club’s North Course.

The Ovid-Elsie alumnus earned the ninth seed in the match play section of the tournament, which began this morning. Gunthorpe had a one-up lead against Grant Haefner, the 56-seed, through the first eight holes. Haefner finished stroke play in a tie for 49th at 9-over.

The 156-player field is cut to a bracket of 64 golfers after two rounds of stroke play. The remaining players face off in a single-elimination match play tournament until a champion is crowned Saturday.

Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith, of Novi, shot a 6-under 65 to finish at 7-under for the two-day stroke play portion. He earned the No. 1 seed by four strokes over Canton’s James Piot, who had a 2-under 68 Wednesday to finish four strokes back of Smith.

“Match play is nothing new for me – I’ve played a lot of it,” said Smith, a two-time Michigan Junior Amateur Champion. “I’m looking forward to it. Being the No. 1 seed or the No. 64 seed doesn’t mean that much really when you start a match. It’s nice to play well for two days, but we have a lot of golf left to play.”

Smith, who will have his name engraved on the Chuck Kocsis Trophy as medalist, was set to play in the first match this morning at 7:15 a.m. against Carter Housler of Lansing, who was the last to make the bracket via a nine-golfer playoff at 11-over 151 for the final spot. Housler, one of two players who made birdie on the first playoff hole, won with a par on the second hole.

Piot, 20, said he had a round of extremely consistent ball-striking, and he was pleased to see his putts rolling well despite not falling as much as he would have liked.

“I had rough week last week in a tournament putting so I wanted to get out this week with a positive mindset and watch some putts roll end over end,” he said. “I felt I accomplished that. I’m looking forward to match play. I’m a big fan of it. It’s a completely different game. You play one guys instead of the field. It takes some stress off at times, and then adds some on at times. It’s fun. You just have to focus on one match at a time.”

Byron native and Northwood University golfer Brandt Nelseon did not make the 64-player cut. He shot a 8-over 78 Wednesday to finish at 15-over.

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