Griffin Steutel leads Golfweek Sandestin Amateur with mentor, former amateur star Manny Zerman in the wings

Manny Zerman’s name hasn’t been tossed around in golf circles for nearly two decades. Zerman was once among the biggest up-and-comers in amateur golf. He was runner-up at the 1990 and 1991 U.S. Amateur (falling to Phil Mickelson in ’90) and finished as low amateur at the 1992 Masters, the same year he helped Arizona win the NCAA title.

Zerman was in the same category as Mickelson in those days: a twentysomething with big game.

On Sunday, Mickelson won his second consecutive PGA Tour Champions event in Virginia. Meanwhile, in the Florida panhandle, Zerman walked quietly behind his best student, Oglethorpe freshman Griffin Steutel at the Golfweek Sandestin Amateur.

Steutel, his student for the past five years, posted a 4-under 67 in the opening round for a one-shot lead in a field of college players and amateurs far more experienced than him.

“I was finding fairways and greens and I was able to step up and make a couple putts,” Steutel said of that round.

Zerman hasn’t hit a shot in competitive golf since his opening tee shot at the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews. By the time he had arrived at his golf ball for the next shot, he had decided professional golf wasn’t for him. He retired from playing on the spot after a short career that included a win on the Canadian Tour, one on the Asian Tour and a loss in a seven-hole playoff in a Korn Ferry Tour (then the Tour) event.

“I played golf because I was good at it, not because I had the passion for it,” he said. “I haven’t had a regret since. I walked away from it and now I’m a happy person and I enjoy giving back.”

Zerman knew he wanted a career in golf, so he pursued one as an instructor instead. That brought him to the Raven Golf Club at Sandestin Resort this week with Steutel.

Four months ago, Steutel lost his father John unexpectedly. Since then, Steutel, a recent graduate of Miami Country Day School, has worked just to get his game back on track and keep moving forward.

Still, when Steutel’s freshman season at Oglethorpe, which competes at the NCAA Division III level, didn’t start as expected this fall, he scheduled a few individual starts. Steutel played two events sponsored by the Golf Coaches Association of America over the past two months. He asked Zerman to travel with him, something his dad had often done.

“I’ve gotten a lot of help,” Zerman said of an amateur career boosted mightily by the generosity of a San Diego couple who took in the young South African when he was looking to get his career off the ground. Eventually, that couple adopted Zerman, and they remained close all their lives.

Golfweek Sandestin: Men’s scores | Women’s scores

Zerman didn’t set out to pay that back, but it has worked out that way.

“Opportunities come around and you take them,” he said. “It does end up being that but

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By: Julie Williams
Title: Griffin Steutel leads Golfweek Sandestin Amateur with mentor, former amateur star Manny Zerman in the wings
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Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 13:24:42 +0000

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