THOMPSONVILLE – Former Mississippi State University All-American golfer Ally McDonald wasn’t sure what to think about winning her professional debut in the 22nd Michigan Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Mountain Resort.
“I guess it hasn’t quite set in yet,” she said. “This is my first time playing for money, but I wasn’t trying to focus on that. I was just doing what I’ve always tried to do, focus on one shot at a time and see where it falls from there.”
It fell to a 2-under 70 on the Mountain Ridge course to give the rookie professional a 5-under 211 total in the $42,000 open state championship.
McDonald, who is from Fulton, Miss., won $6,000 with a two-shot advantage on long-time friend and rival golfer Kendall Martindale of Jefferson City, Tenn., a former Vanderbilt golfer who shot a closing 72 for 213 on a chilly, windy day.
Emmie Pietila of Brighton, the University of Tennessee golfer who led the first two rounds, slipped to a 76 for 214. She tied for third place and low amateur with Muskegon’s Hailey Hrynewich, an Ohio University golfer who shot the day’s low round of 68. They were also the two low Michigan golfers in the field.
“I made a lot of club (selection) errors and one coming in (at No. 17) that cost me a double bogey,” Pietila said. “The wind and mental errors made it tough. I guess I was a little nervous. I wasn’t as relaxed as I would have like to have been. It was different way to play, having the lead like that. It’s something else I just had to learn, so I’m pleased to have had that experience.”
Hrynewich, whose brother Reed was low amateur in the men’s Michigan Open last month, and McDonald were the only two golfers to shoot under par in the final round. McDonald said she hit her driver especially well in the final round.
“I made a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and then hit a real good shot into 9,” said McDonald, who wrapped a blanket around herself often during the final round. “That got me going, and I hit the driver really well. I stayed out of trouble.”
McDonald, on the road an in the golf car Wednesday with her mother Angie, had the lead by the 10th hole, but didn’t realize she had a chance to win until seeing a scoreboard at No. 14.
“I was kind of oblivious to it all, and just focused on each shot,” she said.
Martindale, who played in the same group with McDonald and has been competing with her since a junior tournament at age 12 and through many SEC college events, said their experience in golf helped them deal with suddenly finding they had a chance to win at No. 14.
“We’ve played quite a bit of golf so we know how to keep our emotions in check and not to focus on the finish,” Martindale said. “Ally played solid all day. She hit her driver in play and played tough like she usually does. It was tough out there, cold and windy and the pin positions were harder and some of the tees were back, too.”
Sandra Angulo Minarro of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., shot 73 for 215 and fifth place. Former Michigan State standout Caroline Powers of Bowling Green, Ohio, shot 75 for 216. Sarah Hoffman, the former Grand Valley State golfer from Saline who had been among the leaders the first two rounds, struggled to a 79 and 218.
The Symetra Tour players from the field, including Powers, Whitehall’s Laura Kueny, Liz Nagle of Dewitt and Christine Meier of Rochester, move on to Tullymore Golf Resort in Stanwood for the inaugural Tullymore Classic slated for Friday through Sunday.
More information on the Michigan Women’s Open can be found at www.michiganpgagolf.com.
More information on Crystal Mountain Resort can be found at www.crystalmountain.com.
For final results and payout click HERE