Written By: Greg Johnson
SAGINAW – Kimberly Dinh of Midland made sure the only drama involved others asking why her foot was in a brace.
The 30-year-old senior research specialist for Dow Chemical, who broke a foot and damaged ligaments in a late January snow skiing accident – and started playing complete golf rounds again just over two weeks ago – shot a closing 2-under 69 and rolled to victory in the 25th GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship presented by Stifel Investment Services Wednesday at Saginaw Country Club.
Dinh’s 36-hole total of 139 was nine shots clear of the field, and she will have her name added to the Jeanne L. Myers Trophy for a second time. The 2022 GAM Women’s Player of the Year and 2021 Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion also won the Women’s Mid-Am in 2020.
Laura Bavaird of Trenton shot a closing 73 for 148 and second place, and Rachel Sampson of East Lansing shot 72 for 149 and third in the championship for golfers age 25-and-over.
Champions were also determined in a Senior Division (age 50-plus) and the age 19-24 Division.
An emotional Shelly Weiss of Southfield shot 77 for 152 and then topped runner-up Julie Massa of Pentwater in a USGA formula scorecard playoff to take top Senior honors. Massa, last year’s GAM Senior Women’s Player of the Year, also shot 77 for 152, but had a higher overall score on the back nine. Donna Benford of Linden, who shot 79 and had an eagle-2 on the par 4 No. 16 hole, finished third at 155.
Katherine Potter of South Lyon, home for the summer from the Marshall University golf team in West Virginia, shot a second consecutive 72 for 144 and the win among the college set. Grand Valley State University’s Olivia Stoll, who shot 76, and Megha Vallabhaneni of Northville and Western Michigan University, who shot 75, were next at 146.
Dinh said she felt gratitude for being able to return to form and win.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I finally got out of the boot and my leg was super skinny and I couldn’t do much with it. I couldn’t understand how I could be ready to play competitive golf again so soon. A lot of credit goes to my physical therapists, my surgeon and Kyle (Martin, her teaching professional at The Fortress in Frankenmuth), who got me ready like he always does.”
Weiss, the GAM Senior Women’s Champion in 2018 who will be 62 on Saturday, said she committed this year to improving her game.
“I feel very emotional and proud,” she said. “I worked really hard, put in a lot of work and it was a great day out there for me. It really was.”
She said she worked on her complete game and playing in the final group with Massa, and Joan Garety, both members of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, always adds pressure to the mix.
“I’m slightly retired right now so I had some time to work on my game and you know, these girls are good out here. If you don’t work and get better, you get left behind. So I was determined to get better and I have.”
Potter, 20 and a junior-to-be in the fall, said she had a tough year at school with golf, but has put in work on her game in the last two weeks since coming home.
“I feel really good about this – it’s my first GAM win and I haven’t won anything with players like this before,” she said. “It’s really nice and kind of unexpected. It was great to be playing with people I know and like playing with, too. It was relaxing and different from school where golf always seems to have so much pressure for me.”