By Gary Kalahar
Fun and pressure go hand in hand on the golf course for Logan Anuszkiewicz. He is showing he can handle pressure, and he sure is having fun these days.
Anuszkiewicz didn’t need any time to prove that his first major local tournament victory was no fluke. Two weeks after winning the City Championship, Anuszkiewicz captured the 88th Lyle Ambs Memorial at Sharp Park Golf Course. He won four matches over two days, culminating Sunday with an impressive 4-and-3 triumph over Steve Maddalena in a championship match between the defending champion and the qualifying medalist.
Anuszkiewicz became the first player in 40 years to follow up his first Jackson tournament victory with another in the next event.
“It kind of took me by surprise,” Anuszkiewicz said about securing back-to-back tournament titles and taking a substantial lead on the Player of the Year Honor Roll points list. “It was such a quick turn-around, I didn’t have time to think about it.”
He did notice a different feeling when he teed it up in this tournament, which he started a week earlier by firing a 65 to claim medalist honors.
“I used to come out to these tournaments to kind of play for fun,” Anuszkiewicz. “On the putting green and warming up this week, knowing I had a really good shot at winning this, it gives you a boost of confidence. And confidence is an unreal help in golf, I think.”
The improvement in Anuszkiewicz’s game that has seen him rather suddenly emerge as one of the city’s top players can be credited largely to the competition he gets from his friends, several of whom have taken turns caddying for him in this run of success. Anuszkiewicz is a 2017 graduate of Lumen Christi High School, leading the Titans to a state title as a senior.
“When you’re playing with your buddies, it makes it so much fun when you can play different games with them, get into some pressure situations,” said Anuszkiewicz, who will be attending Hillsdale College this fall after a year at Jackson College. “It’s tournament-like when you can compete with them and have fun while you’re doing it.
“We’ll definitely put some stuff on the line. If you’re not playing for anything, what’s the point in trying? Even if it’s just bragging rights.”
Anuszkiewicz’s march to the title started with a 3-and-2 victory over Kyle Clark. He then made eight birdies in 13 holes to sideline Scott Denig 6-and-5 in a showdown of the last two City champions.
“That was probably my best round of the tournament,” Anuszkiewicz said.
Todd Marston grabbed a 1-up lead three times in their semifinal match, and each time, Anuszkiewicz won the next hole to pull even. Anuszkiewicz went 1 up with a birdie on No. 15, they halved the next two holes with pars, and Anuszkiewicz was conceded a par putt on the last hole to make the finals.
Maddalena advanced to the championship match with a 1-up victory over Mike Brockie, who the day before faced what had to be an unprecedented situation when he defeated his sons Johnny and Brogan in the first two rounds. Maddalena was 1 up after No. 15, and they halved the last three holes.
It was Anuszkiewicz’s first match against Maddalena, although he did play with the Michigan Golf Hall of Famer in the City Championship qualifying round.
“I’ve heard a lot about him, and obviously he’s a really good player,” Anuszkiewicz said. “I remember how he played in the City, and I knew he has a really good wedge game and putting. But I knew my wedge game and putting are just as good. I felt I could hold my ground and it would come down to who made more putts. He missed a few, and I made a few.”
Anuszkiewicz carded six birdies, and his only bogey came on the difficult 12th, which was the only hole he lost. After both players birdied the first hole, Anuszkiewicz took control with a par to win No. 2, a tap-in birdie on No. 4 and a par on No. 5 to go 3 up. He rolled in a 30-foot putt to match Maddalena’s birdie on No. 7, and he extended the lead to 4 up with a par on the next hole.
Maddalena was 2 under on the back nine but couldn’t make up ground. They matched birdies on No. 10, and Anuszkiewicz closed it out with birdies on the 14th and 15th, the first from out of a greenside bunker and the second with a brilliant pitch from well right of the green to inside 2 feet.
“I knew I had to play well to win, and I did,” Anuszkiewicz said. “I played pretty solid. I made that bogey on 12 that I was pretty upset about. But getting up early, making those birdies on 1 and 4, helped a ton, and I played solid enough golf to stay on top.”
Cody Lysher won the first flight with a 6-and-4 victory over Chris Cullin, and Don Baker topped the second flight after beating Johnny Gaston 5-and-4.