ANN ARBOR – It was Canada Day, the north of the border version of Independence Day, and it certainly worked out that way for Audrey Akins of LaSalle, Ontario.
The 52-year-old high school teacher won the 21st GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship presented by The Ally Challenge Monday at The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club. She shot a 4-over 76 in the final round for a 155 total and a two-shot victory over Ashley Mantha of Ann Arbor, who also happens to be a native of Canada and shot a closing 80 for 157.
It was the second Mid-Amateur title for Akins, who also won the Jeanne L. Myers Trophy in 2016. Golf Ontario members are invited to play in Golf Association of Michigan tournaments, and Akins has been a regular in recent years. She is a member of the Essex/Windsor Hall of Fame as an Ontario Amateur winner, the youngest Ontario Junior Champion ever at age 13 and was a standout golfer and team captain at the University of Oklahoma before taking over 20 years off from playing golf.
“I feel like I’m learning again each time I play,” she said. “The last time I won I was really nervous and hit some really bad shots coming down the stretch – not that I didn’t hit some bad shots today – but I was calm. I had no idea where I was at as far as the other players, so I just stayed in my game, stayed aggressive, which is important for me and had a good day. It was a good day today – a good Canada Day.”
Two-time champion Julie Massa of Holt shot 83 for 160 and third place, and Ashley Crain of Bloomfield Hills shot 79 for 161 and fourth.
Trophies were handed out in multiple categories for gross and net play. Marcy Roth of Grand Rapids, who shot 86 for a 169, won the Senior gross scoring title.
A new division was added this year to the championship for golfers age 19-24. Yurika Tanida of East Lansing, a Michigan State University golfer originally from Japan, shot 67 for 138 to win that first-place trophy. Veronica Haque of Rochester Hills, an Oakland University golfer, shot 72 for 146 to take second.
Akins made a triple-bogey 6 on the par 3 No. 14 hole in Monday’s first round of 79 but made par on the hole in the second round and called it the highlight of the round.
“It was my last hole yesterday and that was a bad way to finish, but I knew I could score here,” she said. “I was bound and determined not to make another 6 there, and I hit a good shot in there probably eight to 10 feet away. I didn’t make the birdie, but to improve by three I thought was important for me.”
Tempted to figure out how she stood against the others in the field late in the round, Akins said she talked herself out of thinking about it.
“I told myself ‘don’t do that, how is that going to help?’” she said . “I just stayed aggressive and kept playing. It’s a tricky course out there and you can make a big number in heartbeat. I found that out yesterday.”
-Greg Johnson [email protected]