BUCKET LIST: Midland’s Kimberly Dinh Wins 105th Michigan Women’s Amateur

SAGINAW – The Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship has been on the bucket list of Midland’s Kimberly Dinh since her undergraduate days as a golfer at the University of Wisconsin.

  The 28-year-old Senior Research Specialist for Dow Chemical checked it off Friday winning a tense 1-up title match against University of Michigan golfer Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield at Saginaw Country Club.

  “It feels amazing,” Dinh said following the 105th edition of the state championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.

   “This was always one of my goals and I never quite got it done when I was in high school and college and playing all the time. I didn’t think I would play in it after that just because of everything else, but here I am and it’s amazing.”

  Dinh, who started playing again after graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and won the GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur in 2020, made a six-foot birdie putt on the par 4 No. 16 hole off a 54-degree wedge shot to tie the match for the final time and then won on No. 18 with a pressure-packed par.

  “The match could have gone either way,” Dinh said. “We were pretty much trading shot for shot and ultimately it was going to come down to who was going to make the shot at the right moment.”

   Neither golfer had a bigger lead than 1-up through the match. They each won a single hole on the front nine to make the turn tied in the match.

  Schulz, 19, rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the tough par 4 No. 11 hole to go 1-up, then Dinh hit her 54-degree wedge to four-feet at the short par 4 No. 12 hole for birdie to tie it again.

  Dinh hit a wayward tee shot on No. 14 into the trees left of the fairway at No. 15 and made bogey and Schulz went 1-up again with a par. That set up the birdie for Dinh at 16, matched pars on the par 5 17th and a pressure-packed hole No. 18.

  Schulz approach shot drifted right and ended up in the rough just above a greenside bunker, while Dinh hit a hybrid 178 yards to within 10 feet of the tucked right hole location. Schulz played to bogey and Dinh made par for the win.

  “I didn’t want to pull it left so maybe I just tugged on it and tried to keep it out right a little too much,” Schulz said. “It was tough lie for the chip. I mean if it would have gone in the bunker that would have been up-and-down 100 percent. Kimberly hit an awesome shot in there though. She couldn’t have hit it better.”

  Dinh earned her spot in the final match with a 3 and 1 morning semifinal win over Ariel Chang of Macomb Township, last summer’s Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Champion who is headed to the University of Detroit Mercy to play golf.

  Schulz, in the other semifinal, fought off defending champion Anna Kramer of Spring Lake and the University of Indianapolis in another tense 1-up match.

  “I felt intensity and pressure in every match for sure, and it was a string of great matches, great competition,” Schulz said. “It was an honor to be competing in this championship. My last two putts, at 17 it just hung on the lip and at 18 I left it short right on line. Kimberly was right there though. She played great.”

  Dinh said last summer just before starting at Dow, she realized she missed the thrill of competition. She entered the Mid-Amateur and won it.

  “I had so much fun, and I realized I need to go chase this a little bit more because it is so much fun,” she said. “The girls are always so nice, the courses are always in great shape and the GAM always runs great tournaments. Mikaela played great. She hits the ball so far and is such a good player. She for sure will be back and can keep going for these like I have.”

  Dinh said golf is different at 28, especially because she had to take vacation days to play this week.

  “So I took a third of them up,” she said and laughed. “It was worth it.”