Michigan State’s Andrew Walker sets pace at Michigan Amateur

The Detroit News

Michigan State sophomore Andrew Walker of Battle Creek finished 6-under 65 Tuesday at Country Club of Detroit to lead through the first round of the 107th Michigan Amateur Championship.

Walker and the rest of the field of 156 golfers play a second round of stroke play Wednesday to determine the low 64 who move on to match play Thursday through Saturday. The medalist of the qualifying stroke play will also receive the Chuck Kocsis Trophy.

Walker, 19, a former AJGA All-American, topped the afternoon wave of tee times.

Tyler Copp, 20, of Ann Arbor and a sophomore at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., topped the morning wave with a 68 and was standing second alone at the end of the day.

Three golfers shot 69, including last year’s GAM Mid-Amateur champion John Quigley of St. Clair Shores, Michigan State assistant golf coach Dan Ellis of Lansing, and Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith of Novi, the winner of the last two Michigan Junior Amateur titles.

University of Michigan club team golfer Ian Martin of Saline, Birmingham Seaholm High golfer Jack Muir of Birmingham, and Mitchell White of Muskegon and Grand Valley State’s golf team shot 70.

Jake Kneen of White Lake, a recent Oakland University graduate who won last week’s Michigan Open Championship, was in a big group at even-par 71.

Walker, who tied for fourth in last week’s Michigan Open, said he is having the start to the summer he wanted.

“In planning and looking at the summer one of the goals of the summer is to come out on top in this tournament,” he said. “Being in Michigan, and it’s your state Am, it means a lot to me. I’m glad I’ve put myself in a good position on day one. Now I go out, stick to my game plan and take care of business.”

His business was especially good on the greens in the first round where a hot putter helped him to eight birdies against two bogeys. He said a trio of made 30-footers for birdies on Nos. 1, 13 and 16 keyed the scoring.

“I hit a lot of greens and hit a few close shots, but my putter was the main tool of my trade today,” he said. “There were some really tough pin placements out there, but I did a good job of weighing when to be aggressive and when to be safe.”