Kelly Sim of Edgewater, N.J., a Northwestern University golfer and amateur, and Tristyn Nowlin of Richmond, Ky., who just finished up her golf eligibility at the University of Illinois and turned professional, shared the lead through the first round of the 28th Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Mountain.
They each shot 4-under 68 Monday to lead by one over 69-shooting Taylor Kehoe, an amateur from Strathroy, Ontario, Canada.
The field of 107 golfers will play a second round Tuesday on the Mountain Ridge Course and a 36-hole cut will be made to the low 70 scorers and ties for the final round Wednesday in the 54-hole, $40,000 championship.
Six golfers shot 70, and five of them have Michigan addresses. They include Symetra Tour player Sarah White of Caledonia; University of Michigan golfer Ashley Lau of Ann Arbor; University of Arkansas golfer Julia Dean of Grand Rapids; soon-to-be Grand Valley State University golfer Olivia Stoll of Haslett; mini-tour pro Nishtha Maden of Grand Rapids; and Jane Lu, a Northwestern University golfer living in Evanston, Ill.
Anika Dy, the 2019 champion from Traverse City and the University of Michigan, was in the group at even-par 72. Just 13 golfers were under par.
Sim said her round wasn’t perfect but she took advantage of a long putt on the fourth hole and a lucky bounce at No. 6 and the momentum it generated.
“On the sixth hole I got a really good bounce and actually made birdie from a position where I was going to bogey or do worse, so from there on I just had good momentum,” she said. “I stuck a couple shots close on the back nine, too. It was a good day and I love this golf course.”
Sim is playing in her first tournament since the spring college season and said she picked this state open because she had heard a lot of good things about it.
“I wanted to play in some tournaments and I’ve never been to Michigan,” she said. “This place is so beautiful. I was in my own little bubble out there and I enjoyed the golf course.”
Nowlin, who is headed to Symetra Tour qualifying in the fall, enjoyed her 68 as well.
“I think that was probably one of the most fun rounds of golf that I have played,” she said. “This is my first time up here, and I kind of feel like it’s a hidden treasure. It’s really a beautiful course with a lot of different types of shots to hit. It was just a lot of fun.”
This is Nowlin’s second professional tournament. She tied for 20th in the recent Colorado Women’s Open.
She said the key for her starting her career is making sure she is still having fun on the golf course.
“That’s why I’m out here, I love the game,” she said. “I love playing with my competitors. I love meeting new people every day and learning something, hitting a different shot.”
She birdied two of the last three holes, but said her round was helped greatly by a par-saving putt at No. 14.
“I left myself in a tough position and had to punch out (of the trees),” she said. “I hit a shot to about 12-feet and putts were not necessarily falling like crazy today. The other ones I made were inside eight feet, but I was able to roll that one it and it felt good.”
Pairings for Round 2 can be found on the event page here.