Fourth Michigan Women's Open is August 25-27
by Susan Bairley
Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor again will be the site of the Michigan Women's Open Monday through Wednesday, August 25-27.
Presented by the Michigan Section of the Professional Golfers' Association of America, the tournament now is in its fourth year and is sponsored by Detroit Newspapers and Chelsea Community Hospital.
With a $20,000 purse and amateur awards, the Open is expected to attract about 80 women golfers, which represents a 63 percent increase in the number of participants since the tournament's first year, when 49 entrants played. For the second year in a row, the Pro-Am event that precedes the tournament has been sold out since January.
In 1994, the inaugural tournament and $1,500 winner's check were won by Suzy Green. At the time, Green was playing on the Futures Tour and was headed for LPGA Tour Qualifying School. The 1995 title was won by PGA Assistant Professional Jennifer Cully, then of Chemung Hills Country Club (now at Wabeek Country Club), and last year, the tournament was dominated by two amateurs, winner Jennifer Kangas of L'Anse and second place Katy Loy of Ann Arbor.
Shooting a three-day total of 215, one under par, Kangas edged out Loy by one stroke and topped third place Futures Tour Professional Debbie Williams by four. Tied at fourth place, with total scores of 223 each, were Cully and PGA Assistant Professional Lisa Marino.
Graduating from Michigan State University this past December, Kangas obtained a sponsor and moved to Orlando, Florida, in February to work on her golf game full time, play one the Futures Tour and attend LPGA Qualifying School.
Regrettably, because the qualifying school coincides with the Open, Kangas said she will be unable to defend her title this year, leaving the 1997 title up for grabs.
"I wish I could be there," she said. "It's a great tournament and there are a lot of good amateurs and professionals that compete in it."
Recalling her 1996 victory, Kangas said she played her practice round alone in the rain. "I thought the course played so long," she said, "and then I found out I had played from the wrong tees! With everything 'moved up' in the actual tournament, I shot a lot of wedges into greens and the course played pretty short.
"Winning definitely was a surprise, but I had been working on my game, and everything just kind of fell together," she added.
Although the goal of turning professional is something Kangas has eyed for a while, the 1996 Michigan Women's Open title helped her move ahead more confidently.
"Turning professional has been a longtime goal of mine,' she said, "but the title helped greatly in getting a sponsor. It also made me think, I can do this."
With Kangas out of the picture, second-place Loy, who now is a collegiate golfer at the University of Kentucky, is not sure just what will be in store for her at the upcoming Open, but knows she faces a tough field. "If it's not Jennifer, it will be someone else (in top contention)," she said. "I'm just going to try to play my best. On the pro side especially, Michigan always has wonderful golfers. Every year is different, but I'm sure they all will be playing great."
One thing Loy does see as an advantage, however, is that she loves Travis Pointe. "I really love the course, and it's always in beautiful shape. I scored my lowest round there (a 68 in the second round of the 1996 Open) and while there are some difficult holes, what you see is what you get."
Michigan PGA Tournament Director Kevin Helm said the Michigan Women's Open has been a great addition to the Michigan PGA tournament schedule.
"We've had a growing field during the last two years," Helm said. "We're very excited about the number of entrants and we're expecting a new record turnout as more and more people hear about the event."
Helm also said the sold-out Pro-Am preceding the Open may be especially popular since it's an all-female event. All the participants are women, including the rules officials, and I think the uniqueness of that attracts amateurs who might otherwise not play in that kind of event," he said.
"The Pro-Am sold out in five weeks," added Detroit Newspapers Event Marketing Manager Jill Riddle. "Women are hungry for these kinds of golf events. They want them geared toward women, but functionally run the same way, and with the same quality, in which they've been offered for men."
Ann Arbor's Travis Pointe Country Club is located south of I-94, off Ann Arbor-Saline Road at 2829 Travis Pointe Road.
For more information, call the Michigan PGA at (33) 522-2323.
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