ROCHESTER – The “Sweet 16” features many of the golfers who were expected to challenge for the 106th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Few surprises happened Wednesday as defending champion Kimberly Dinh of Midland, last year’s runner-up Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield and this year’s stroke play medalist and top seed Caroline Ellis all won first-round matches at Great Oaks Country Club to advance to the round of 16.
Dinh, a senior research specialist for Dow Chemical, topped former Grand Valley State University golfer Mackenzie Blomberg 7 and 6, Schulz, a University of Michigan golfer, turned back Amaya Melendez of Ann Arbor 7 and 5, and Ellis, the assistant women’s golf coach at Michigan State University, beat Laura Liu, a high school golfer from Rochester Hills 7 and 5, all before Noon to set the tone for the day.
Other results of note: Alissa Fish of Clark Lake, a Western Michigan University golfer, turned back 15-year-old Lauren Timpf of Macomb 4 and 3 and is back in the “Sweet 16.”
The Dy sisters, Anika and Anci of Traverse City, each won. They are in opposites sides of the bracket and would not have to play each other unless they both reach the title match. Anci, a University of Indianapolis golfer, topped Mandy Erhlich, a Saginaw Valley State University golfer from Grand Rapids, 2 and 1. Anika, a University of Michigan golfer, beat Natalie Samdal, a WMU golfer, 3 and 2
Also, in a match featuring junior standouts, Sophie Stevens of Highland topped Mia Melendez of Ann Arbor 4 and 2.
Dinh said she played steady golf with one bogey and one birdie in her win.
“I knew all the elements were there in stroke play but I hadn’t put it together yet,” she said. “I kind of figured out the driver and had a lot of confidence in that and hit good iron shots all day.”
Dinh, who has made the “Sweet 16” seven times over the years, said her plan is the same as always in match play – one shot at a time.
“Play solid, consistent golf and we will see how it falls,” she said.
Schulz, determined to win after getting to the final match a year ago, said she had a bogey-free day in her win and was 6-up after nine.
“She dropped some putts but I was going to be tough to beat today,” she said.
Schulz, last year’s GAM Champion, came back to the course after she played Monday and worked on the putting green.
“I did a lot of work just doing some different drills and making sure I was rolling the ball well,” she said. “This field has a lot of good players and I need the putter to be working for me this week if I want to advance. I’m seeing the line and feeling that I’m hitting the center of the clubface.”
Ellis said she made a lot of pars on the front nine and then took over her match with birdies on holes 10, 12 and 13.
“That happened fast, I kind of got in a groove,” she said.
The top seed said she was going to put her feet up and find air conditioning in the afternoon, and she was looking forward the Sweet 16 dinner this evening. As an Ohio native and former professional, this is her first Michigan Women’s Amateur as a Michigan resident.
“I’m excited to be here and we will see what happens,” she said.
Two rounds of match play Thursday and Friday will determine a champion.