SAGINAW – It’s not easy to defend a Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship, but last year’s winner, Anna Kramer of Spring Lake, is in the final four again.
She had to take the hard road Thursday fighting off some poor drives in a pair of wins in matches that went 19 holes at Saginaw Country Club.
The University of Indianapolis golfer and graduate student will meet University of Michigan golfer Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield in one semifinal Friday morning, while last year’s Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur champion Ariel Chang of Macomb Township will meet Midland’s Kimberly Dinh in the other semifinal.
The winners of those matches will play in the afternoon for the championship in the 105th edition of the state championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Kramer turned back Abigail Livingston of Novi and Dixie State University in 19 holes in the morning round of 16, and then topped stroke play medalist Veronica Haque of Rochester Hills and Oakland University in 19 holes in the afternoon quarterfinal.
“There’s just kind of a grind to match play you know,” Kramer said. “I mean I was just trying to stay in the best I could and then do something. Anything can happen so you have to keep telling yourself to just stay on it and see what happens. I finally made some birdies and good pars and that kept me in it.”
Kramer, 22, said her plan for the final day is to stay positive.
“You just have to grind it out the best you can, and you know just have fun and enjoy it,” she said. “Keep it simple.”
Schulz earned her semifinal meeting with Kramer by topping Olivia Reed of Carleton and Western Kentucky University 2 and 1 in the quarterfinal match. It came on the heels of a 4 and 2 round of 16 win over Adie Maki of Canton and Skyline High School.
“I would say my strategy on this course is basically hit just as many fairways and greens as possible and make pars,” she said. “That’s a huge advantage in match play, just making pars.”
Schulz, 19, said her goal for the week was to play well.
“Obviously I want to win, too, but I just love match play and my game is feeling really good right now,” she said. “I want to see what I can do.”
Like Schulz, 18-year-old Chang is in the final four for the first time. She earned her semifinal spot with a 4 and 3 quarterfinal win over Natalie Samdal of Caledonia and Davenport University, and she turned back Shannon Kennedy of Beverly Hills and in the fall Michigan State University 4 and 3 in the morning round of 16.
“My mindset was just like, I’m just going to go hole-by-hole,” she said. “I wasn’t really playing like match play, I was trying to be okay, I’m going to score my best score, not play against Natalie or Shannon, but just get the ball in the hole.”
Chang, who is headed to the University of Detroit Mercy in the fall, said getting through the round of 16 was a goal for the week and she is excited to be in the semifinals.
“I’m very proud of myself and now that I’m here, I kind of want to push it farther,” she said. “I have to come back tomorrow anyways so I really want to finish it on a good note.”
She takes on Dinh, who knocked her out in the round of 16 last year on the way to the semifinals. Dinh earned her second straight final four with a 6 and 4 quarterfinal win over Oliva Stoll of Haslett after topping 14-year-old Lauren Timpf of Macomb 4 and 2 in the round of 16.
She said she played steady golf through the day.
“It was mostly just hitting a lot of greens and making a lot of pars,” she said. “I’m just trying to hit fairways and hit greens and make it as easy on myself as I can, and I just kind of keep that same mentality until I get a good number (yardage) and can be aggressive and fire as some pins.”
Dinh, a 28-year-old Senior Research Specialist for Dow Chemical, said she isn’t thinking about being the oldest player remaining in the field and her goal for the week was make it through the semifinals this time.
“I’m spending my vacation playing and so I’m enjoying it out here,” she said. “I play on the weekends and I try to practice a little on the weekdays after work. I don’t hit a lot of balls anymore and it’s more work on the short game, dialing in wedges. I’m probably going to hit a squirrely shot here or there, but it’s just managing that and getting up and down (for par) as easily as possible.”