LANSING, Mich. — Kimberly Dinh has spent more time in the classroom than on the golf course since graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2015 with a degree in chemical engineering.
But the 27-year-old former Badgers golfer, who recently completed her doctorate in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), showed Tuesday there's still some chemistry in her golf game, too. Dinh birdied the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Ann Arbor's Ashley Mantha and won the 22nd Golf Association of Michigan Women's Mid-Amateur at Country Club of Lansing.
Dinh reached the 452-yard par-5 playoff hole (No. 5) in two shots and almost made a 40-foot eagle putt before tapping in for birdie. Dinh followed up an opening-round 73 with a 78 and atoned for a bogey on her final hole of regulation with the playoff birdie to deny Mantha, who rallied with a 75 in the second round to catch Dinh at 7-over-par 151.
“It feels great to compete and win again,” Dinh said after accepting the Jeanne L. Myers Trophy. “I knew it was close but I wasn’t looking at the scores (online scoreboard). I didn’t want to think about anything but playing my game. I hit three really good shots on the playoff hole and I’ll always take a tap-in birdie.”
Mantha, who was three shots off the lead after an opening 76, just missed an 8-foot downhill birdie putt that would have pushed the playoff to a second extra hole. The 34-year-old high school teacher and golf coach pushed her tee shot into the trees right of No. 5 fairway in sudden death just as she had during two rounds of regulation play. This time though her ball was stymied by a large tree.
“I punched out and had 200 left, and I just flushed that 5-iron,” said Mantha, who teaches at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor and coaches the boys and girls teams at Ann Arbor Skyline. “It gave me a chance, but that was a tough eight-footer downhill, and (Kimberly) made a great birdie. She’s a really good putter. It seems like she was always tapping-in after making a great putt.”
University of Michigan women’s golf coach Jan Dowling shot a second consecutive 77 for 154 and third place, and Michigan State University women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, a 10-time past champion of the tournament, shot 77 for 156 and fourth.
One of Slobodnik-Stoll’s players at MSU, Yurika Tanida, emerged as the winner of the 19-24 age group competition presented as a playing opportunity for the non-Mid-Amateur players inside the championship for those age 25 and older.
Tanida, a native of Japan, shot a closing 1-under 71 to go with a first-round 68 for 141. She topped Grand Valley State University golfer Katie Chipman of Canton by one shot. Chipman also closed with a 71, but for 142. Tanida also won the division in 2019.
Dinh, who has accepted a job offer from The Dow Chemical Co. in her hometown of Midland, Mich., plans to play a full schedule of golf this summer. The highly decorated scholar athlete had concentrated on her studies since graduating in 2015 from UW, where she was a four-time Women's Golf Coaches Association Academic Scholar.
Dinh had a successful summer prior to her senior year at UW, making it to the semifinals of the Michigan Women’s Amateur and finishing second in the Michigan PGA Women’s Open in 2014. She ranks sixth in career scoring average in Badgers program history with a 76.62.
She said the CC of Lansing golf course was in great shape with perfect greens.
“I was able to get the speed of the greens and that helped me have a lot of tap-ins for par,” she said. “It was fun to be in a tournament. I played on a club team at MIT, which was really good golf. I’ve kept playing the game. I know I really enjoyed this. We’ll see how much I play once I start working at Dow.”
|+7||73||78||151||Champion via playoff|
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