STATE OF GRACE: Grace Wang of Rochester Hills Wins Michigan Girls’ Junior

  EAST LANSING – Grace Wang of Rochester Hills made some long putts to stay in front and fought off a late comeback attempt by Sophie Stevens of Highland to win the 44th Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur presented by the Rocket Tour Thursday at Forest Akers West Golf Course.

  Wang, 16 and a senior at Rochester Adams High School, won her first GAM title, first state title and called it her biggest win.

  “It’s amazing,” she said after holding off the 16-year-old Stevens 1-up in the title match and accepting the Wright Memorial Trophy.

   “I see that my hard work has been paying off. For a moment in my summer I was struggling a little bit, but to be able to get this win really boosts my confidence.”

  It was a championship final day with grace, pun intended. The 15-and-under division state title was won by Grace Slocum of Traverse City. She turned back Ava Wisinski of Ada 4 and 3 in the title match.

  Wang earned her spot in the championship final match with a 3 and 1 win over Kate Brody of Grand Blanc in a morning semifinal.

  Stevens, the stroke play medalist in the championship the last two years and the top seed, rallied from behind to beat Adie Maki of Canton 1-up in the other semifinal.

  In the final Wang made a 36-foot birdie putt on the par 3 No. 10 hole for a 3-up lead, and at the par 4 No. 16 hole she made a 30-foot birdie putt for a 2-up lead with two holes to play.

  Stevens won holes 14 and 15 with pars and the par 5 No. 17 hole with a birdie to force a trip up the final hole where she conceded a short par putt to Wang to end the match.

  “My driver was not the best this week, but I was able to put it in the fairway and my irons were okay so I was able to put shots on the green, but the key was my putting and chipping,” Wang said. “I was able to save pars and make some birdies that way, and those long putts today were really key.”

  Wang, the daughter of Dahai Wang and Angelo Guo, said she has worked on her short game a significant amount this summer and she thanked her coach, Patrick Wilkes-Krier, who teaches at Kendall Academy in Ypsilanti.

  “He has helped me in all part of my game and keeps me confident,” she said. “He is always there to support me and he even texted me this morning and said congrats and stay strong. He’s always there to encourage and support me, so I love it.”

  The 15-and-under champion, Grace Slocum, 14 and a student at Traverse City St. Francis, called the victory her biggest.

  “I had a few bad holes and some bad shots but overall I’m really happy with my performance,” she said. “Despite the wind and weather I had pretty good control of my game and I was making a lot of pars.”

  She reached the final with a 2 and 1 win over Lillian O’Grady of Grand Rapids in the morning semifinals. Wisinski topped Nicole Schafer of Williamston 2 and 1 in the other semifinal.