Final Four Set at Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship
EAST LANSING – Spring Lake’s Anna Kramer, the top seed, Midland’s Kimberly Dinh, a chemical engineer, Brighton’s Annie Pietila, the sister of a former champion, and Flushing’s Kerrigan Parks, the 2018 champion, earned spots Tuesday in the final four at the 104th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Kramer, 21 and a University of Indianapolis golfer, will meet Dinh, 28 and a former University of Wisconsin golfer, in the 8 a.m. semifinal match Wednesday on the Forest Akers West Course at Michigan State University.
Pietila, 19, a recent Brighton High School graduate and sister of 2012 champion Emmie Pietila, will take on the 21-year-old Parks, a Marshall University golfer, in the 8:15 a.m. semifinal.
The two winners will meet for the championship in the afternoon.
Kramer, who reached the semifinals for the first time after making it to the quarterfinals twice previously, said she earned her spot by taking out the young kids. She turned back 15-year-old Kate Brody of Grand Blanc 6 and 5 in the morning round of 16, and then held off 13-year-old Lauren Timpf of Macomb 1-up in the quarterfinals.
“They are both really good players, and they are only going to get better,” she said. “Lauren stayed right with me. It was a grind to the finish and a challenge for sure. I knew I had to play hard. You can’t just show up and win. I played pretty solid. I missed a few putts, but I made some, too, and I feel good about getting to the last day. I have a chance.”
Dinh, who recently earned her PhD from the Massachusetts of Technology and returned to competitive golf for the first time in a few years, earned her spot with a 2 and 1 round of 16 win over last week’s Michigan Junior Girls State Champion, Ariel Chang of Macomb Township, and then a 6 and 5 win over Mackenzie Blomberg of Grand Rapids, a former Grand Valley State University golfer.
The winner of the GAM Mid-Amateur Championship earlier this summer, Dinh is the final four for the second time. She was a semifinalist in 2014, the summer before her senior year at Wisconsin.
“After not playing for the last few years, I definitely got the itch and again, and I’m just out there enjoying playing,” she said. “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. This tournament has always been on my bucket list of tournament to win so it’s exciting. I’m seeing where my game stands and trying to be competitive.”
Pietila, who had verbally committed to Western Michigan University’s golf team but found the offer dropped with a coaching change, earned her spot in the semifinals with a dramatic 1-up win over Nichole Cox of Empire in the round of 16, and a 3 and 1 win over Elizabeth Harding of Beverly Hills in the afternoon. Her win over Cox ended when she chipped in from about 40 feet right of the No. 18 hole position.
“I was really shocked when that went in,” she said. “I had a 3-up lead on the front nine, and then Nichole started playing really well and tied it. It was a good chip. I had a lot of green to work with, but you just don’t expect to make those.”
Pietila said she has surprised herself in reaching the last day and would love to win the championship on the same course where her sister Emmie won in 2012.
“I’m not going to think about that though,” she said. “I’m super excited to still be playing. I’ve never made it this far before. I’m just going to play one shot at a time, focus on being positive no matter what and find happiness in every shot.”
Parks, who won the West Virginian Women’s Amateur last Tuesday, earned her spot in the final four with a dramatic birdie on No. 18 against Danielle Staskowski of Clarkston in the round of 16. She hit a 4-iron hybrid to one-inch on the final hole of a tied match. In the afternoon she topped University of Michigan golfer Anika Dy of Traverse City 3 and 2.
“I think I played great all day,” she said. “The match with Danielle was so close all the way, and then I hit that shot at 18. It was exciting. That’s one of the best shots I’ve ever hit in a tournament. Then Anika just had a few bad chip shots and I didn’t make many mistakes this afternoon. I was solid.”
Parks missed defending her 2018 title last year with summer school classes at Marshall, and almost missed this year’s tournament, too. She was a last-minute entry after winning in West Virginia and got in via a withdrawal by another player.
“I’m really happy to be playing in this and getting to the final four,” she said. “Nothing changes for me. I just want to play my game for one more day. I would love to get a chance to win again.”
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