ROCHESTER – Being the stroke play medalist and No. 1 seed for match play wasn’t really on her radar, but Caroline Ellis of East Lansing is excited and ready to move forward with her flight plan in the 106th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Ellis, the co-leader through the first round who shot a second consecutive even-par 72 for 144 Tuesday at Great Oaks Country Club.
The Michigan State University assistant women’s golf coach, former professional and reinstated amateur will lead a bracket of 32 golfers into match play through Friday to determine a champion.
“Medalist wasn’t really something that was on my radar because it’s a match play tournament, so you just try to make it to that,” said the Ohio native. “Then that’s really when I feel like the tournament really starts. So, step one is done. That’s good, and let’s get ready for tomorrow.”
Jessica Krattiger, another former pro and reinstated amateur, and a former Ohio State University golfer, also shot 72 in the second round to land at 148 and in second place in stroke play.
Megha Vallabhaneni of Northville and soon to play for Western Michigan University shot a second consecutive 75 for 150 and third place.
Anci Dy of Traverse City, a University of Indianapolis golfer who shot 75, and first-round co-leader Lauren Timpf of Macomb, who shot 79, tied at 151.
Last year’s runner-up Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield, a University of Michigan golfer, shot 77 for 152 and was tied with University of Delaware golfer Lilia Henkel of Grand Rapids, who shot 74, and Sophie Stevens of Highland, who shot 73.
Kimberly Dinh of Midland, the defending champion, shot 80 for 156 and tied for 12th to make match play easily.
The cut to make the 32 match play field fell at 164 with seven players having to playoff for one spot. Laura Liu emerged from the playoff to get the last spot, and she will play Ellis in the morning. See the bracket at GAM.org.
Ellis said her second round play was less eventful and more consistent than the first round.
“Yesterday there were like some great shots and some terrible shots and then today was a lot more of just kind of in that middle area,” she said. “I didn’t make many of the putts for birdie, but I did make some really good par saves. So I just kind of hung in there all day.”
The fast greens at Great Oaks have her attention, Ellis said.
“I think the greens are awesome, and if you get on some sides of the pin locations they can be pretty slippery. When the wind picked up a little bit and was swirling around, making the club choice to try and be on the right side of the pen was really important. There are some places you’ve got to watch out for out there.”
Ellis said her game-plan for match play is to keep trying to make birdies.
“Really once it’s match, play seeding doesn’t matter,” she said. “I think it’s still anyone’s game out there.”
Ellis, formerly Caroline Powers, is married to Dan Ellis, who recently left his coaching position with the Michigan State men’s team to caddie for former Spartan James Piot, who turned professional this year after winning the U.S. Amateur a year ago.
Ellis said she isn’t making him come home from this week’s U.S. Open Championship to work for her on the golf bag instead of Piot.
“I can’t afford him now,” she said. “I will just cheer for them out there and they will cheer for me here.”