Tristyn Nowlin said she had an absolute blast at Crystal Mountain, and she was going to call home to Richmond, Ky., and tell her dad, Phil, all about it.
“It feels so awesome,” she said in reaction to winning the 28th Michigan Women’s Open Championship in just her second professional tournament Wednesday on the Mountain Ridge course. “I’m just starting this whole process as a professional and I’m definitely taking one day, one step at a time but I do have big goals.”
Nowlin, who recently completed her golf career at the University of Illinois and has started graduate school, trailed Northwestern University golfer Kelly Sim of Edgewater, N.J., by three shots when the final round started.
She shot a final 3-under 69 for a 10-under 210 total, won by two shots and took home the $6,500 first-place check.
“I’ve been saying this entire time that what I can win in the state opens this summer I’m going to use the money for Q-School (LPGA, Symetra Tour qualifying in the fall), so I’m very, very thankful for the chance to play in this great tournament at this beautiful place and great course and very, very excited.”
Sim, who shot a 74 and has a year left at Northwestern, and Ashley Lau, a University of Michigan golfer from Malaysia who shot 71, tied for second at 208 and were also co-low amateurs in the championship.
Sarah White of Caledonia, home from the Symetra Tour, was next at 210 after a closing 72, and took second-place money among the professionals.
Mini-tour professional Jessica Welch of Thomasville, Ga., who shot 69, and Annabelle Pancake of Zionsville, Ill., a Clemson University golfer who shot 71, tied at 211.
Anika Dy of Traverse City and the University of Michigan, the 2019 champion who shot 72, was among the group at 212, officially tied for seventh, as was Hastings mini-tour player Gabrielle Shipley, who shot 65, the low round of the day.
Nowlin had two birdies on the front nine to give chase and took the lead and kept it at No. 14 where Sim’s tee shot found the trees right of the fairway leading to a punch out and eventual double-bogey 6.
She had a two-shot lead going to No. 17, but three-putted from 40 feet to hold just a one-shot lead heading to the par 5 18th. She wrapped things up with a birdie to finish.
“Honestly I was just playing smart, playing to my strengths and I know what my strengths are,” she said. “My distance control with my irons was pretty solid. I wasn’t rolling in many putts. The pin at 17 was tough and I misjudged the speed on that first putt, but I was able to hit one close on 18. It was just smart golf. The course was set up tougher today. Smart golf worked.”
Sim said she was battling her swing in the final round.
“I was missing greens, but I was getting up and down on the front nine, but then I started getting in the trees,” she said. “I actually though Tristyn was ahead of me already so I actually put more pressure on myself. I think the pressure got to be just a little bit, but it was a great experience for me and I learned a lot just watching Tristyn play.”
Nowlin, who is off to the Illinois Women’s Open in Naperville, Ill., also called the week a learning experience.
“Just being able to play with great golfers on a different-type course than I usually play was great,” she said. “This course requires a different strategy and it’s fun to play. And then there’s this community here. The volunteers were great and there were two spotters on every single hole. Just seeing the support everyone has for women’s golf here was wonderful because that’s something I’m very passionate about.”