Linden’s Julie Guckian Holds off Defending Champion to Win GAM Women’s Championship
OWOSSO – Julie Guckian of Linden shot what she called her best tournament score ever in winning the 24th GAM Women’s Championship presented by Golf Digest Wednesday at Owosso Country Club.
“I’ll be honest, I did not have a lot of confidence coming into this tournament,” said the Grand Valley State University golfer after shooting a closing 1-under 70 for 139 and a two-shot win over hard-charging defending champion Jennifer Elsholz of Grand Rapids.
“But I work at a golf course in the summer (Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc) and play out of Spring Meadows (in Linden) and I took a couple days off and got back into practicing. It fell in place I guess you could say.”
Guckian, who had five birdies on the front nine in her round of 69 on Tuesday, made four on the back nine in the final round. She had no idea that Elsholz, three groups ahead, was shooting a 66 to post 1-under 141.
“I tried not to have too many misses and tried not to miss big,” she said. “No (double bogeys) on the cards, and that helps a lot. My strength was definitely the driver. My irons have been iffy so I really practiced my putting. That paid off, too.”
Guckian, who will be a junior at Grand Valley in the fall, said she is yet to win a collegiate tournament, but does have some second-place finishes. Her last win was in high school.
“This was great,” she said. “I made a lot of birdies. It’s a great confidence boost for me winning this.”
Elsholz, last summer’s GAM winner and Michigan Amateur champion, fired a 5-under 30 on the back nine for her closing 66. The recent University of Toledo graduate, who is going to LPGA Qualifying later this summer, said she knew going low was her only chance after a 75 in the first round.
“I knew with how nice the course was playing that under par was going to win, and I just wanted to play better after having a bad round (Tuesday),” she said. “I made a birdie on 11, saved par with a long putt on 12, and then got on a roll. It was fun. I kind of figured it might not be enough though. I was asking a lot of people to shoot over par.”
Emily White of Saline, a University of Michigan golfer who shot 71, and Avery Rochester of Marquette, a Northern Michigan University golfer who shot 72, tied for third at 144.
Michigan State University women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, who shot 70, and one her players, Mariah Massa of Holt, who shot 71, tied at 145 to round out the top five.
– via Greg Johnson