GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Beau Breault of Hartland had one mission when play began at the 107th annual Michigan Amateur Championship.“Just get to match play,” he said.Once he achieved that goal by finishing in a nine-way tie for 24th place with a 4-over-par 146 during qualifying, the tournament transitioned into Breault’s strength.“I’m a pretty good match play player, so I just wanted to give in, give myself a chance and see what happened with every match,” he said.What happened was a historic victory, as Breault became only the second player from Livingston County to win the Michigan Amateur Saturday at the Country Club of Detroit.After finishing second last year, Breault closed the deal this time around by beating 40-year-old attorney Anthony Sorentino of Shelby Township, 4 and 3, in the championship match.His victory came 20 years after Shawn Koch of Howell became the county’s first Michigan Amateur champion.Breault won six matches, five of which were over by the 16th hole, giving him an 11-1 record in match play in the last two Michigan Amateurs. He made the final match last year after tying for 25th during stroke-play qualifying.
“I love match play,” said Breault, an Eastern Michigan University golfer who made first-team all-state as a senior at Hartland High School in 2015. “It allows me to be more aggressive. During stroke play, sometimes I’ll get a little bit too conservative and I won’t go at pins or I’ll hit iron off the tree. In match play, if you make a bad score on a hole, it doesn’t really matter; you just lose the hole. It kind of frees me up on the tree, so I hit a lot of drivers.”Breault was able to draw upon the experience of playing in the final match last year when he teed off against Sorentino.“Last year, I hadn’t really done much, I hadn’t really had a lot of success,” Breault said. “Just making it to the finals gave me a lot of confidence going forward, because now I knew I could do it. It was just a confidence thing. I didn’t really feel like I belonged there, maybe it was a little bit of a fluke. This year, I’m like, ‘You know what, I can do it.’ I believed in myself. It was definitely a confidence booster last year finishing second. I took a lot of positives out of it.”Breault’s toughest challenge in his six matches came Friday in the quarterfinals against Max Rispler, a Bowling Green State University golfer from Grand Rapids. The two Mid-American Conference rivals needed to play a 19th hole before Breault advanced.“I had a battle with Max Rispler,” Breault said. “He played really well. He kept holing out, making putts from everywhere. He made it really tough for me. I’m glad I pulled it out in 19.”After surviving that battle, Breault had a relatively stress-free day Saturday.He won his semifinal match, 5 and 4, over Joshua Gibson, a Hope College golfer from Grandville. Sorentino was the only semifinalist who wasn’t currently playing college golf. He beat Georgia Tech golfer Ben Smith, a 2017 Detroit Catholic Central graduate, 1-up, in the semifinals.“In the morning round, (Gibson) made a few mistakes at the beginning, gave me a few holes and I just never really looked back,” Breault said. “I got up big early and just put it in cruise control after nine or 10 holes. In the afternoon, I didn’t make a bogey. I didn’t give him anything. We were pretty tight until five. I broke through on five and six, then I won eight and nine and never really looked back. I played really solid, made a lot of pars and forced him to make birdies. Fortunately, he didn’t make them.”Breault’s caddy for the tournament was childhood friends and high school golf teammate Baker Stevenson. Breault got his start in golf as an 8-year-old playing all day during the summers with Stevenson.“His dad was a pro,” Breault said. “He kept switching around courses, so my mom would drop us off at 8 in the morning and pick is up at 8 at night, give us a few bucks for lunch and we would just play all day. That’s how I learned to play golf.”Breault earned an exemption into the Golf Association of Michigan Championship Aug. 20-21 at Meadowbrook Country Club and the GAM Tournament of Champions Oct. 8 at Detroit Golf Club.He also hopes to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, which will be held Aug. 13-19 at Pebble Beach.“It feels good,” Breault said. “It’s kind of a monkey-off-the-back feeling, really. I haven’t won in a while, so it was good to get back in the winner’s circle.”Breault is the seventh golfer to win the Michigan Amateur after taking second the previous year.