EAST LANSING – Ariel Chang of Macomb Township fired a tournament and junior girls course record of 9-under 62 at Forest Akers East Wednesday to easily earn the top seed in match play at the 42nd Michigan Girls Junior State Amateur.
The 17-year-old Utica Eisenhower student earned medalist honors for the 36-hole qualifying with an 8-under 134 total and will be the top seed as a 16-golfer match play bracket plays out Thursday and Friday to decide a champion.
“I’m really surprised I came out and shot 62,” said Chang who scored her first GAM title in the GAM Junior Kickoff last month. “I was aiming for 69 or 68, a good score because of all the good players in this tournament. I started making birdies, had two eagles and then I just tried to keep my cool and play in one shot at a time.”
Chang, who has a year of high school remaining but has verbally committed to the University of Detroit Mercy women’s golf program, birdied the first two holes of her round and then made an eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 6 hole reaching the green in two shots. She shot 31 on the front and then did the same on the back nine with a birdie at 10, and eagle on the par 5 No. 12 hole and birdies at 15 and 16 coming in.
“I had a nine-foot birdie putt on the last hole and missed it, so not everything went in,” she said. “I left some shots out there, but I also had a really good ball-striking day and gave myself a lot of good chances to score.”
Chang’s 62 was nine shots better than her personal best, eight shots better than the next best scores on the day, and her 134 ended up six better than the next golfer, Sophie Stevens of Highland, who shot a second consecutive 70 for 140.
Adie Maki of Canton, who shot 71 for 141 was third and Bridget Boczar of Canton, who shot 70 to finish at 142, was fourth. They were the only golfers in the overall division to shoot par or better for the two rounds of stroke play.
Nicole Whatley of Mt. Pleasant shot 72 for 143 for fifth, and three players checked in at 145, including defending champion Lilia Henkel of Grand Rapids, who shot 71, Jolie Brochu of Goodrich, who shot 72, and Megha Vallabhaneni of Northville, who shot 72.
“It’s not a hard course, but everything was clicking,” Chang said. “My best before this was a 69, and the two eagles really did it.”
Chang said she likes match play because one bad hole doesn’t ruin the day.
“I just want to keep playing well,” she said. “I’ve been practicing a lot, and my family went to Georgia. I hit balls down there and it was hot, so it didn’t bother me much that it was hot today.”
Jessica Jolly of Rockford shot 2-under 69 for 141 in the 15-and-under division. As medalist she will be the top seed in an eight-golfer bracket that plays match play over the next two days.
Mia Melendez of Ann Arbor shot 74 for 145 and second. Lauren Timpf of Macomb, the GAM Kickoff 15-and-under winner, shot 73 for 145. Grace Wang of Rochester Hills shot 76 for 149 to round out the top four.