By Gary Kalahar
As the trophy presentation concluded after the City Championship final match, Logan Anuszkiewicz had a question:
“Do I keep this?”
Anuszkiewicz could be excused for not being familiar with protocol on the trophy he had just earned on a soggy Saturday at the Country Club of Jackson. He was a newcomer to that level of success on the Jackson golf scene. But that won’t be the case any more. Yes, he was informed, the trophy is yours to keep. And there might well be more to add to it.
One year ago, Anuszkiewicz was leading Lumen Christi High School to a Division 3 state championship. Now he has a title of his own, claiming the 93rd City Championship with a 5-and-3 victory over Mark Kurzynowski in the 36-hole finals. Anuszkiewicz won four of the first five holes, and all that slowed him down after that were two rain delays in the afternoon round.
While Anuszkiewicz recorded a breakout victory, advancing to the finals was a breakthrough of sorts for Kurzynowski as well. Jackson’s dominant golfer for a decade was eyeing his first victory since 2009.
“I was like a little kid (Friday night),” Kurzynowski said. “I was so happy to be in the finals again. To be in the heat of the moment, it felt great. I was nervous on the first tee. That’s a good thing.”
While Kurzynowski has four of those City Championship trophies, Anuszkiewicz had previously won just one match in the tournament. A tie for fourth in the Spring Thaw this year marked his first solid contention in a Jackson major tournament. He has been rapid improvement in his game over the last couple years.
“I make my biggest jumps in the winter,” he said. “That’s when you really have to practice. It’s tough because you won’t see the results right away, but when you get back on the course again, you see the hard work pay off.”
Anuszkiewicz placed third in the state meet last spring, when he was the Citizen Patriot’s high school golfer of the year. He just finished his freshman year at Jackson College, where he earned a spot in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, and will move on to Hillsdale College in the fall to study marketing and play for the Chargers.
“I’ve had so much help from everybody,” he said of his development. “When I look at my game, it’s the work of a bunch of people. My parents, my high school coach, my swing coach, my friends the most.”
Anuszkiewicz’s five-match march to the title began with two matches that went 18 holes. He then eliminated 2015 champion Josh Dirlam 5-and-4 and ended the run of the story of the tournament, Leslie High School freshman Cannon Risner, 4-and-3.
“The golf got better as the week went on,” Anuszkiewicz said.
That was especially true on the greens, where Anuszkiewicz employs a method that has his eyes on his target line rather than on the ball when he putts.
“It helps me keep a smooth, steady stroke and from being too worried about being perfect,” he said. “Putting was really cold most of the week. I worked a lot on it, and it really kicked on when I played Dirlam, and it carried over to Risner, and I rolled in some good putts (Saturday).”
Did he ever.
After his 5-up lead in the morning round was trimmed to 2-up after No. 2 in the second round, Anuszkiewicz responded to regain control. He made a par save out of a bunker on No. 3, then won the next three holes with birdie putts of 16, 7 and 4 feet.
“(Saturday) I was definitely the most nervous,” he said. “But that was huge to get that early lead. I haven’t had to play from behind much. The huge thing for me all week was early. I’ll get these hot stretches where I’ll get two or three up, and it’s tough battling back after that.”
Leading again 5 up, Anuszkiewicz never allowed Kurzynowski an opening to get back in it. Kurzynowski won No. 11 to cut the margin to four, but Anuszkiewicz rolled in a 9-footer for an up-and-down par to win the next hole. The only thing that kept the match going after that was the tenacity Kurzynowski displayed in winning 21 local titles between 1998-2009.
After Anuszkiewicz sank a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 13 that could have clinched it, Kurzynowski rolled one in from just inside that. Then on the 14th, Kurzynowski nearly holed his approach and won the hole with a birdie. Anuszkiewicz calmly ended it with a 13-foot birdie putt on No. 15.
“He was solid tee to green, and he made putts,” Kurzynowski said.
Since going on one of the greatest runs in Jackson golf, including Player of the Year honors six of seven years from 1998-2004, Kurzynowski had not won since taking the City in 2009. He missed two years with two back surgeries and has struggled to get his game back.
“I have to find what’s going to work for me now, to keep me competitive,” the 49-year-old Kurzynowski said. “I’m trying to figure that out. I can’t beat balls like I used to, for four hours at a time, and I can’t do it every day. My swing is never going to be like it used to be.”