ELVERSON, Pa. – Midland’s Kimberly Dinh rallied from a 3-down deficit by winning six of the final seven holes to claim the 36th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship Thursday.
The 31-year-old associate research scientist at DOW Chemical and GAM Women’s Player of the Year the last two years, beat Kelsey Chugg of Salt Lake City, Utah, the 2017 champion, 2-up in the title match on the North Course at Stonewall.
“In college, I never really played in any USGA events, mostly because by the time the summer came around, I was burned out and I didn’t want to travel,” she said. “So having an opportunity to compete in a USGA championship after grad school, after college, has been awesome, and to win it, just incredible.”
Dinh, who trailed in the match from the fifth hole through the 13th, tied the match by winning 12 and 13 with pars and 14 with a birdie. She lost hole 15 with a bogey, then won 16 with a bogey to tie the match again when Chugg made double-bogey.
Dinh then took the lead for the first time at 17 with a conceded birdie-2 on the par 3, and then birdied the final hole with a nine-foot putt to secure the 2-up victory.
“To lose a couple holes pretty quickly was a little bit frustrating, but I just kind of dug deep and never really panicked,” said Dinh. “Kelsey was playing great golf, but both of us were going to make mistakes at some point, so I just kind of had to weather that and keep playing. I said to myself, ‘I’ll keep putting one good swing on the ball after another and see where it takes me.’”
Dinh, who hired Stonewall caddie Mark Dalton for the week, was the 16 seed, and Chugg the 14 seed after stroke play qualifying. Chugg, 32 and a five-time Utah Women’s State Amateur champion, was in the final match of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur for the third time, and Dinh for the first time in three appearances at the championship. Dinh had reached the round of 16 and the quarterfinals in her first two trips to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
A former University of Wisconsin golfer, the 2021 Michigan Women’s Amateur champion and a two-time GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, Dinh said she has learned from her previous golf experiences how to handle being behind.
“I have learned something every time I’ve gotten to match play, just every time I’ve played it, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it,” she said. “I’ve learned that even if you get down to not panic. I’ve been in pressure situations and have gotten used to it. I used to struggle with it, but this year I’ve played with the attitude that I need to enjoy every moment. Like I said, keep hitting the ball and see where it takes me.”
Dinh’s emotions bubbled to the surface when she was asked about her family and friends in the gallery, including an aunt who had departed for Indianapolis only to turn around and return as her niece advanced through to the final match.
“I really enjoy them being out following me,” she said. “They have been supportive of me through my entire golf journey.”
For the victory Dinh received the traditional USGA gold medal, custody of the Mildred Gardineer Prunaret Trophy for the next year, exemptions into the next 10 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships, exemptions into the 2024 and 2025 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships and an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. Dinh said Wednesday that the U.S. Women’s Open was a bucket list item she hoped to cross off one day.
“I’m super excited but I don’t think all of this will sink in until I’m home,” she said.
As for heading home, she said work beckons because she takes vacation days for her golf competitions.
“I have a presentation I have to give tomorrow so I have to at least dial in for that, and then we’ll figure out what the rest of the day looks like,” she said and laughed.
Dinh is the first GAM member golfer to win the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, the third GAM member to win a national USGA title in the last three years and the sixth to win a USGA national championship in the last 21 years.
Kim Moore of Portage won the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open last summer, and James Piot of Canton became Michigan’s first U.S. Amateur Champion in 2021. In 2002 Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc won the U.S. Senior Amateur, Randy Lewis of Alma won the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and Tom Werkmeister of Hudsonville was co-medalist as Team Michigan won the USGA State Team Championship in 2016.