MICHIGAN WOMEN’S AMATEUR: Final Four Set at Spring Lake CC

Written By: Greg Johnson

  SPRING LAKE – Kimberly Dinh of Midland, a past champion, Katie Chipman of Canton, a past runner-up, Chelsea Collura of Wyandotte, a first-time semifinalist, and Olivia Hemmila of Troy, a first-time match play qualifier, are the four players remaining in the 107th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.

  Each of them won two matches Thursday to advance to Friday morning semifinal matches in the state championship being hosted by Spring Lake Country Club. Chipman will meet Collura in the first semifinal at 7:30 a.m., and Dinh will meet Hemmila starting at 7:40.

  Chipman, a 25-year-old former Grand Valley State University golfer who finished second in the 2017 Michigan Women’s Amateur to Aya Johnson, beat stroke play medalist Shannon Kennedy of Beverly Hills in the round of 16 morning match, and then topped Ferris State University golfer Kamryn Shannon of Jackson 3 and 1 in the afternoon quarterfinals.

  Chipman, a reinstated amateur, said she is surprised to be in the semifinals because she has played little golf and no competitive events in the last two years.

   “I kind of just signed up and the GAM always runs really great events all season long,” she said. “I was happy that I made match play. Honestly that was the goal at first. Now, I’m just trying to take it one match at a time and not think too far ahead.”

  She has a game plan.

  “I guess I just tried to stick to my game plan today, keep it in play off the tee and then go from there,” she said. “I feel like I can achieve what I want to do from the fairway to the green. I had a few swing thoughts in my mind that have been working, and now it’s just trying to stay energized. I’m not used to walking 36 holes right now. It helped to have my caddie today.”

   Collura, 29, the owner of Nuggett Leasing in Flat Rock and a veteran of several state championships, made the semifinals for the first time by beating Lauren Davis of Coopersville 2 and 1 in the morning and then topping Lilia Henkel of Grand Rapids 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals.

  She closed out the final match with Henkel by chipping in for birdie from about 35 feet.

  “I rely on my short game and it’s one of the things I practice most, so I just took a deep breath, had the confidence and knew it was going to be good. That it went in was special, and I’m also exhausted so I’m glad the match is over. I don’t play this much golf, 36 holes walking. I need to go rest.”

  Collura said her plan all along was to play steady golf.

  “That’s the hardest part of golf because you are going to hit some bad shots,” she said. “But if you can get some lucky breaks and keep steady, you have a chance. I tried to do that even when I was down in the matches today.”

  Dinh, 31, an associate research scientist at DOW Chemical, is going after her second Michigan Women’s Amateur. The 2021 champion turned back Alissa Fish of Clarklake 8 and 7 in the round of 16, and then beat Elise Fennell of Caledonia 3 and 2 in the afternoon.

  Dinh said she is starting to feel really comfortable on the Spring Lake CC course.

  “A couple of shots can be demanding off the tee, but you know if you keep it in play and hit it straight you get to attack some of the pins,” she said. “I’ve found I’ve been hitting my irons a little further this week so I’m trying to dial in distance control and I’ve gotten better each day. I felt like I had really good control today.”

  Dinh said being back in the final four with a chance to win another state title is fun.

  “Every time I play I want to win and last year I was disappointed with how I played because it didn’t feel like I played my best,” she said. “So this is nice. I’ve put together some good golf and I want to keep playing steady golf and see how far it takes me.”

  Hemmila, 18 and headed in the fall to play golf for Oakland University, is making the most of being in match play for the first time in the state championship. This is her fourth appearance in the championship and she reached the final four with a round of 16 win over Megha Vallabhaneni of Northville, 3 and 1, and a quarterfinal win over Jolly Jessica of Rockford, 1-up.

  “I never had made match play before so once I got in it was kind of like, alright, I want to see how far I can get and see if I can win,” she said. “I haven’t played a lot of match play, but I’m getting experience now. At this point, it’s just exciting to be playing. I’m going to go out and have fun tomorrow. If I win or don’t win, I will still be happy with how I played this week.”

  A recent graduate of Troy Athens High School, Hemmila said she was tired, but still feels like she has good golf left in the tank.

  “Especially on the back nine,” she said. “I left a few putts for birdie short right in the hole. I can play better, especially on the greens. They are a great challenge, but they are in beautiful condition.”