FIRST WIN: Highland’s Julia Stevenson Claims 2020 GAM Women’s Championship
MUSKEGON – Highland’s Julia Stevenson kept telling herself that one day it would happen if she just kept working, practicing and playing.
It happened: The 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University golfer shot a second consecutive 1-under 71 Tuesday to win the 29th GAM Women’s Championship at Muskegon Country Club by three shots.
Anika Dy, a University of Michigan golfer from Traverse City and the 2019 Michigan Women’s Open Champion, shot 71 for 145 and second.
It was Stevenson’s first win since starting to play golf as a freshman at Milford High School. She eventually earned a golf scholarship from Eastern Michigan University and played four years for the Eagles who she led in scoring average as a senior last year and had a career-best second-place finish.
She was also a regular on the summer Michigan circuit playing in GAM tournaments, including previous GAM Women’s Championships.
“I’ve always tried to shoot my best round, whatever that could be,” she said just before accepting the Betty Richart Trophy as champion.
“No matter if I was playing my worst round ever, I’m still like, ‘okay, we have to get one back here.’ But as the years went on, I was like ‘okay it would be nice to win one of these days because you always play in the same events.
“And lately, it was, ‘okay, I’m right there, you know just waiting for it to be my day.’ I kept working and practicing and told myself one day it will happen. I’ve been playing these tournaments for years now and just to finally win one – it means a lot. The competition is so good out here and this is such a great environment to play in, and to finally get one feel’s amazing.”
Stevenson, who started her MBA program at Eastern in January and plans to take a shot at professional tour golf, took the lead on her front nine in the first round and never relented. She said she was holding back on her swing early in the final round but managed to make eight pars and finally a birdie at No. 9.
“I finally told myself to just be aggressive and do what you normally do, and that started working for me, especially with my driver,” she said. “I focused on the target and took it from there.”
She made par on the first five holes of the back nine and then missed the par 3 No. 15 green right with a hole location tucked to that side.
“I was just trying to get that flop shot on the green somewhere not too far away,” she said. “Then I didn’t even get it to the green.”
She did manage to two-putt from the fringe for a bogey and nursing a two-shot lead put the tournament away with a birdie on the par 4 17th.
“I hit my drive out there in the middle and hit a knock-down pitching wedge in there low,” she said. “It was the shot I needed. I came back and got one back. That (birdie) putt was about eight feet.”
Stevenson said playing the tough Muskegon CC course kept her from thinking too much about what others were doing.
“It’s so tough and on the greens you can’t be above the hole,” she said. “I was thinking make a lot of pars, get a few birdies when you get good chances and you will be good. It worked out.”
A trio of golfers finished in a tie for third at 146 including Michigan State standout Kaylin Harris, who shot a closing 72, University of Nevada golfer Chaithra Katamneni of Midland, who shot 72, and Oakland University golfer Kay Zubkus of Ada, who shot 71 and was awarded the crystal third-place trophy via a card playoff.
Another Michigan State golfer, Yurika Tanida, last year’s GAM Women’s Player of the Year, shot 74 for 147, and three golfers finished at 148, including Anci Dy of Traverse City, who shot 72, Katie Chipman of Canton and Grand Valley State, who shot 73, and Kimberly Dinh of Midland, who shot 76.
University of Michigan golfer Mikaela Schulz of West Bloomfield, who shot 77, and Elizabeth Harding of Beverly Hills, who shot 72, rounded out the top 10 at 149.
Aya Johnson, the 2017 Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion from Muskegon who now works for the Golf Channel, had the low round of the day with a 69 for 150 and 12th place
INFORMATION: Visit GAM.org
via Greg Johnson
The article Stevenson Wins 2020 GAM Women’s Championship was first published on GolfBlogger.Com on August 12, 2020.