Novi’s Ben Smith earns top seed for match play in Michigan Amateur

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News
Ben Smith of Novi shot 5-under 65 on Wednesday at the Michigan Amateur.

Novi’s Ben Smith shot a 5-under 65 Wednesday for medalist honors in the 108th Michigan Amateur Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club’s North Course.

Smith, with a two-round total of 7-under 133, will top a match play bracket of 64 golfers pared down from a starting field of 156. Six rounds of matches over three days will determine a champion by Saturday afternoon. Thursday play will determine a celebrated “Sweet 16.”

“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.”

As the No. 1 seed, Smith will have his name engraved on the Chuck Kocsis Trophy as medalist. He will play in the first match at 7:15 a.m. Thursday  against Carter Housler of Lansing, who was the last golfer in via a nine-golfer playoff at 11-over 151 for that one final spot in the bracket.

The Country Club of Lansing golfer was one of two players who made birdie on the first playoff hole, and then he won the playoff with a par on the second playoff hole.

James Piot of Canton, another former Michigan Junior Amateur champion and a Michigan State University golfer, took the No. 2 seed after shooting 68 for 3-under 137, and Bryce Messner of Howell, who recently graduated from Grand Valley State University, was next with  a 70 for 138.

Four golfers tied at 139 including first-round leader Logan Price of Grand Blanc and Florida Gulf Coast University, who shot 75 on the heels of his record tying 64 from the first round, Benjamin Balen of Freeland and Concordia University, who shot 68, Allendale High School golfer August Meekhof of Eastmanville, who shot 68, and Scott Sparks of Shelby Township and University of Detroit Mercy, who shot 70.

Nick Gunthorpe of East Lansing, who shot 71, Cameron Lippoldt of Midland, who shot 72, and Dan Ellis of East Lansing, who shot 70, each finished at even-par 140, and 2014 Michigan Amateur Champion Henry Do of Auburn Hills shot 69 and was among the group at 141. Defending champion Beau Breault of Highland, who just graduated from Eastern Michigan University, made it into the bracket easily with a 71 for 143.