THOMPSONVILLE – During the three hours and 40 minutes of rain delay Denver’s Becca Huffer tried to focus on one simple thought.
“I just kept thinking I will need some birdies to finish up,” she said.
And that’s what she did. Huffer, a former University of Notre Dame golf team captain and 23-year-old Symetra Tour professional birdied the final two holes to break away from a three-way tie and win the Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship Wednesday on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort.
“When we went to 17 all tied I knew it was time to make something happen if I wanted to finish strong,” she said. “That putt on 17 was the huge one I think. It was 20, 25-feet downhill and when I hit it I was like ‘oh boy, I hope it goes in.’”
The birdie on the par 3 17th followed by a birdie on par 5 18th gave Huffer a 2-under-par closing 70 for an 11-under-par 205 total, the Crystal trophy and a $5,500 first-place check that will help as she heads to Harris, Mich., for the next Symetra Tour stop Friday through Sunday.
Kimberly Dinh of Midland, the University of Wisconsin golfer who set a course and tournament record with a 62 in the opening round, and Ashlan Ramsey of Milledgeville, Ga., a recent Curtis Cup player who was playing in her first pro event, each closed with 72s for 207 and a tie for second.
Dinh was the low amateur for the second consecutive year, and Ramsey, 18 and a top-ranked amateur golfer in recent years, made $4,500 in her pro debut.
They had started the day tied with Huffer for the lead and battled through the first 16 holes and the rain delay only to find it was a three-way tie again.
“I played pretty steady, but Becca played very steady and made the birdies when they really counted,” Dinh said. “I would have liked to win, but I take a lot of positives away from this. It motivates me to get better and better.”
Ramsey said she was pleased to have a chance to win with two holes to go in her first professional event, and feels the experience will help her as she moves on in her career.
“I feel like I could have played a lot better,” she said. “There were a lot of things I could have done better, but that is how golf is and obviously two birdies is hard to beat. Becca made the birdies at the right time. I take the good from this and work on my ball-striking.”
For Huffer it was her second win of the year to go with a Cactus Tour event, but she said the biggest since she won the Colorado Open last year. Her current status on the Symetra Tour, aided by a third-place finish earlier this season in Arizona, puts her full-time the rest of the schedule.
“It feels awesome to win,” she said. “I got it done today, and that feels so great. The money helps because every little bit helps, and I knew I was playing well the last few weeks and this just proves I’m doing the right things.”
Also making her professional debut was former Michigan State standout Allyssa Ferrell from Edgerton, Wis. She shot a closing 70 for 211 and fourth place.
Ashley Tail, another Colorado pro from Littleton, shot 71 for 212 and fifth place.
Aimee Neff of Carmel, Ind., the assistant women’s golf coach at Michigan State, shot 73 and was among four golfers who shot 214. Hannah Collier of Birmingham, Ala., shot 68 to join that group, and also there was Olivia Jordan-Higgins of the United Kingdom and Grosse Pointe Shores pro Samantha Troyanovich, who each shot 74s.
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