By Greg Johnson
(GROSSE POINTE WOODS, MI) – Beau Breault of Hartland turned back Anthony Sorentino of Shelby Township to become the eighth golfer in 107 years to win the Michigan Amateur Championship after being the runner-up the year prior.
“I proved to myself I could do it last year,” the Eastern Michigan University golfer said after his 4 and 3 final match win Friday at Country Club of Detroit garnered him the Staghorn Trophy as the winner of the 107th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
“Then this year I just said, ‘you know let’s must make it to match play and then anything can happen. Let’s get it done this year.’”
Breault, who lost a year ago to Tom Werkmeister of Grandville in the final match, went 4-up through a five-hole stretch (Nos. 5 through 9) winning with two pars and two birdies against Sorentino in the final. Then he matched him in scores over the next six holes to put it away.
“Beau played fantastic,” said Sorentino, a 40-year-old attorney who has won three GAM Mid-Amateur Championships and made a splash in golf as one of the golfers on the first reality show presentation of The Big Break by the Golf Channel in 2003.
“I know he was under par and I was a couple over, but he really just beat me senseless. I was hanging in there and hanging in there, but I couldn’t get anything going against him. He hit it great all day. He hits it really long and has two, three clubs less going into every green and that’s a big advantage. He’s a great player.”
Breault used a fast start in the morning semifinals and beat Hope College golfer Josh Gibson of Grandville 5 and 4, and Sorentino rallied from behind and slipped past Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith of Novi 1-up in the other semifinals.
“It still hasn’t really hit me yet that I won,” Breault said. “I was laser-focused all day. I didn’t think about anything about after the tournament because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I just tried to stay focused, hit smart shots and stay in the moment. And now it is finally starting to hit me. I just won. This is awesome.”
Breault said he made an equipment change a few weeks ago and it has helped him, and he thanked his childhood friend, high school golf teammate and caddie Baker Stevenson.
“I’m hitting my driver really well,” he said. “I switched shafts trying to get a lower more controlled ball flight. I hit a lot of fairways this week. Baker and I picked out a lot of good targets. It kind of made it easy because there are a bunch of fairway bunkers that are 270 to 290 (yards), which went I hit it well, I can carry. It made the fairways a little bit wider. So when I hit driver well it set up the rest of the shots. I hit a lot of wedges and my putter was rolling it well, too.”
Breault will be a senior in the fall at Eastern, and he plans to try and qualify for the U.S. Amateur this summer.
“This win means a lot of exemptions,” he said. “I don’t have to quality for a lot of stuff now, which is nice. It means the Tournament of Champions and mostly a lot of confidence. I just proved to myself when I stay focused, play smart and play my game I’m hard to beat. It’s a really good feeling knowing that, and that all the hard worked paid off.”
Breault was the first runner-up to return and win since 2007 when PGA Tour player Ryan Brehm pulled it off as an amateur. The very first runner-up in 1906, Phillip Stanton of Grand Rapids did it in 1907. The others include David Ward of Big Rapids in 1926, Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Bob Babbish of Detroit in 1935, Mike Andonian of Pontiac in 1962, Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Randy Erskine of Battle Creek in 1972, and five-time Michigan Amateur champion and Hall of Fame member Pete Green of Franklin in 1986.