Ontario’s Audrey Akins Reaches Goal, Wins GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship
OWOSSO – Audrey Akins, a 49-year-old English teacher and mother of two from LaSalle in Ontario, emerged from a three-way tie to win the 18th GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship presented by the West Michigan Golf Show Wednesday at Owosso Country Club.
Akins, who four years ago returned to competitive golf for the first time since playing international competition for Canada as a junior and playing for the women’s team at the University of Oklahoma, shot a closing 74 for 146 to edge eight-time champion Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of Haslett by three shots in the championship for GAM member women over the age of 25.
“Since I came back to competitive golf I’ve been working at it and working at it, and this was my goal,” Akins said. “When you are away from competition that long, you are not sure you mentally still have what it takes. This is exciting for me. I probably don’t show it. I don’t show a lot of emotion, but I’m excited.”
Slobodnik-Stoll, 44, the head women’s golf coach at Michigan State and the winningest amateur woman in Michigan golf history, shot a 77 for 149. Her, Akins and Morag Mitchell, another Canadian from Kitchener, were tied after first-round 72s Monday.
Mitchell shot an 81 in the final round for 153, and two-time former champion Julie Massa of Holt finished third with a 77 for 150.
Barb Schmid of Grand Rapids won the Senior Division title with a closing 76 for 154. She edged Shelly Weiss of Southfield, who shot 77 for 155.
Akins said there are few events for golfers her age in Ontario, and since she played in GAM events as a junior, has been making the short drive from LaSalle into Michigan to find tournaments.
“Coming back to competitive golf – how great is that?” she said. “You appreciate the game in a new way, good or bad, I love it. I learn from the bad. It’s painful, but I learn, and the good, then you feel like I feel today.”
She said she has been working on playing one shot at a time with confidence, and she needed to call on that work after starting her round on the two opening par 5 holes with back-to-back bogeys.
“I hung around, and just tried to keep hitting one shot at a time,” she said.
She pulled a tee shot into the trees left of No. 13, but pulled a 5-hybrid club and knocked it over trees to within three inches of the hole for a birdie.
“From then on I just felt free,” she said. “I told myself to just go play. It took that long today, but I was able to make some nice up and downs on the way it. I didn’t worry about the outcome. I just tried to hit good shots.”
Slobodnik-Stoll said the final pairing of 72 shooters from the first round struggled early in the round.
“I didn’t have it all together on the front nine,” she said. “When you have a lot of things going on in your life, you have to shut those things off. I don’t think I did a very good job of doing that today and Audrey played very steady on the back nine. We all struggled on the front, but she played nicely on the back.”
RESULTS: Complete scoring can be found under the championships tab at www.gam.org
VIA: Greg Johnson