LANSING – Midland’s Kimberly Dinh birdied the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Ann Arbor’s Ashley Mantha and won the 22nd GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship Tuesday at Country Club of Lansing.
The 27-year-old former University of Wisconsin golfer who recently completed her PhD in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reached the par 5 first playoff hole (No. 5) in two shots and almost made a 40-foot eagle putt before tapping in for birdie.
“It feels great to compete and win again,” Dinh said after accepting the Jeanne L. Myers Trophy. “I knew it was close but I wasn’t looking at the scores (online scoreboard). I didn’t want to think about anything but playing my game. I hit three really good shots on the playoff hole and I’ll always take a tap-in birdie.”
Mantha, who had rallied from three shots off the lead to force the playoff, just missed an 8-foot downhill birdie putt that would have pushed the match onward. The 34-year-old high school teacher and golf coach pushed her tee shot into the trees right of No. 5 fairway in sudden death just as she had during two rounds of regulation play. This time though her ball was stymied by a large tree.
“I punched out and had 200 left, and I just flushed that 5-iron,” said Mantha, who teaches at Ann Arbor Pioneer and coaches the boys and girls teams at Ann Arbor Skyline. “It gave me a chance, but that was a tough eight-footer downhill, and (Kimberly) made a great birdie. She’s a really good putter. It seems like she was always tapping-in after making a great putt.”
Dinh shot a final-round 78 to go with an opening 73 for a 151 total for the win. Mantha shot 75 in the second round to force the tie after 36 holes of regulation play.
University of Michigan women’s golf coach Jan Dowling shot a second consecutive 77 for 154 and third place, and Michigan State University women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, a 10-time past champion of the tournament, shot 77 for 156 and fourth.
One of Slobodnik-Stoll’s players at MSU, Yurika Tanida, emerged as the winner of the 19-24 age group competition presented as a playing opportunity for the non-Mid-Amateur players inside the championship for those age 25-plus.
Tanida, a native of Japan, shot a closing 1-under 71 to go with a first-round 68 for 141. She topped Grand Valley State University golfer Katie Chipman of Canton by one shot. Chipman also closed with a 71, but for 142. Tanida also won the division in 2019.
Anika Dy, a University of Michigan golfer and last year’s Michigan PGA Women’s Open champion, shot 70 for 141 and third place. Her University of Michigan teammates Sophia Trombetta, who is originally from Independence, Ohio, and Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield, tied for fourth at 144. Trombetta closed with a 72 and Schulz a 71.
Karen VanGorder, a CC of Lansing member, shot a closing 80 for 157 and the win in the Senior Division. Donna Benford of Linden and Shelly Weiss of Southfield tied for second at 165 with closing 85s. Winners were also identified in other flights. Complete results can be found at GAM.org.
Dinh, who has accepted a job offer from The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, plans to play a full schedule of golf this summer. The highly decorated scholar athlete had concentrated on her studies since graduating from Wisconsin in 2015. She had a successful summer prior to her senior year at Wisconsin making it to the semifinals of the Michigan Women’s Amateur and finishing second in the Michigan PGA Women’s Open in 2014.
She said the CC of Lansing golf course was in great shape with perfect greens.
“I was able to get the speed of the greens and that helped me have a lot of tap-ins for par,” she said. “It was fun to be in a tournament. I played on a club team at MIT, which was really good golf. I’ve kept playing the game. I know I really enjoyed this. We’ll see how much I play once I start working at Dow.”
-Greg Johnson, 616-560-8995, [email protected]