DeWitt’s Liz Nagel Defends as Crystal Mountain Hosts 26th Michigan Women’s Open Starting Monday
THOMPSONVILLE – Liz Nagel of DeWitt will defend her championship in the 26th Michigan Women’s Open Championship starting Monday on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort with a bit of a rusty game and a heavy heart.
The 27-year-old LPGA Symetra Tour player has missed the last month of golf to be at home with her grandmother Carolee Sanford, who passed away just recently after a battle with cancer. She was 74.
“She was my biggest fan and she would come to the Michigan Open with me,” Nagel said. “She was from the Upper Peninsula, so normally I would have been in Harris with the tour there this week (Island Resort Championship), but this all just happened, and it was kind of sudden and now I’m getting back to golf. It’s tough when life and golf collide.”
Nagel, a fifth-year pro, dramatically shot a 4-under 68 and came from six shots behind to win the 2018 Michigan Open by three shots. It was her first professional win.
“It was great to win and after it I had a decent finish to the season,” she said. “I have good memories of the last hole. I got up and down from that bunker at 18, and had an 11-footer, left to right, above the hole and it broke a lot. It was the best putt I made all day and it felt really good just to finish with a birdie. Then they told me I won. I don’t look at scoreboards. It was stunned. It was great to win.”
Nagel said she played in the early events on the Symetra Tour this season before missing four in a row.
“I was playing good before I came home to be with my grandmother,” she said. “Not sure what to expect now. I’m on the range right now hitting balls. I’ll be as ready to go as I can be. It’s strange. I’m not hesitant to get back to golf. I miss it. I love it. I just have to face this new reality.”
Crystal Mountain is hosting the championship for the 17th consecutive time, and Nagel is one of three former champions in the field.
Lindsey McPherson, the 2017 champion now living and working in Findlay, Ohio, is returning to what she calls her favorite golf tournament. Also back is 2011 champion Laura Kueny, who now lives in Asheville, N.C., and no longer plays tour golf.
The 26th edition of the championship, which does not require Michigan residency, will feature an international field of 89 golfers, including mini-tour professionals and amateurs representing multiple states and countries.
The field will play 54 holes of stroke play over three days to determine the champion with a cut after the first two rounds to the low 70 scorers and ties. The professionals will play for a share of a $40,000 purse.
The championship is administered by the Michigan Section of the PGA of America, and the field typically includes the top professionals and amateurs with Michigan ties as well as LPGA Symetra Tour players and mini-tour professionals from around the world.
In addition to the former champions, many of Michigan’s top golfers are also lined up to play, including the reigning Michigan Women’s Amateur champion Kerri Parks of Flushing and Marshall University, Elayna Bowser of Dearborn, who recently graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and was the runner-up to Parks in the 2018 Amateur, and University of Arkansas golfer Julia Dean of Brighton.
Flint’s Shasta Averyhardt, Rochester’s Christine Meier, who are making the rounds on the professional circuit, are entered, as are the Shipley sisters from Hastings — Gabrielle, who is a professional, and Sarah, an amateur who plays at the University of Kentucky.
Michigan State women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, is also in the field with several of her current, former or incoming Spartan golfers. Grand Rapids native Sue Ertl, a former LPGA Tour player, another Hall of Fame member and another former Spartan, is home from Florida to play in the championship.
Crystal Mountain Resort was established in 1956, and is a family-owned, four-season resort that is nationally recognized for its skiing, golf and award-winning spa.
Located in northwest-lower-Michigan, a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the resort features downhill and cross-country skiing, Michigan Legacy Art Park, 36 holes of championship golf, Michigan’s only alpine slide, an outdoor water playground, a variety of lodging and dining options, countless year-round activities and kids programs, an IACC-approved conference center, weddings, real estate and Crystal Spa. See www.crystalmountain.com .
As always, the Michigan Women’s Open offers free parking and admission. Spectators are welcome and can be shuttled to various spots on the course.
INFORMATION: Tee times and results through the week can be found at www.michiganpgagolf.com.