by Pat Shelton
Recently graduated from Rochester Hills Adams High School and a first-time entrant in the Michigan Women's Amateur Golf Championship tournament, Kim Benedict faced seasoned veteran Joan Garety of Rockford in the final match and came away the victor. Kim won the match and championship 2 up, at Tecumseh Country Club in Tecumseh, MI.
Benedict appeared nervous to start, losing the first two holes to Garety, but came back to go even on eight. They pushed on nine. This put the pair all square going into ten. The pivotal hole of the match came on the 129-yard par 3 fifteenth. Kim put her tee shot on the right apron about 40 feet below the flag and proceeded to sink her birdie putt to go 3 up. According to Benedict, the birdie putt on 15 changed her attitude; it gave her a lot more confidence and made her think, "I can do this!" Garety would need the last three holes to tie the match. She took sixteen and seventeen, putting the match at Benedict +1 going into eighteen. On 18, Garety conceded the hole and match to Benedict after she reached the green in four and faced a likely two putt while Benedict was five feet from the hole in three. Benedict, the 18-year old from Rochester Hills won her first Michigan Women's Amateur Championship by beating a two-time past champion and veteran player 2 up. Benedict shot a 75 for the round, Garety 79.
When accepting her trophy after the match, Kim thanked the Michigan Women's Golf Association for a great tournament and Tecumseh Country Club for a beautiful course. She said Joan Garety was "awesome," and that they had a great match. Kim also thanked all present for their support. In congratulating Kim, Joan commented, "Kim played great, well within herself and very intelligently."
Kim concurred that she had a shaky start on Friday, but settled down to go even on the front and on to a victory on the back. Her father, Howard Benedict, caddied for her, and in Kim's words, "Calmed her down a bit." Kim stated that her short game is always something to fall back on, and she did not change her strategy going into the finals. "The big thing was to hit the greens; play fairways and greens with two putts."
When asked how she felt about this win as compared to high school wins, Kim said, "It feels like a bigger deal, and the trophy (a large silver bowl) is the biggest thing I've ever won." This tournament was only the second time Kim played match play, but she said she likes the format "as you can have a bad hole, but not get too rattled by it because the next hole is a new match." Kim liked the greens at Tecumseh, stating, "They rolled true. The course has a lot of class."
Benedict stated she'd been playing "consistently steady" during the tournament, and her results for the week proved this out. She shot a 77 in the qualifying stroke play round and had strong wins in match play. Kim defeated Ellen Colenbrander of Holland 5 and 4, Cortney Reno of East Grand Rapids 6 and 5, Kara Hutton of Grandville 5 and 4, and her semi-final opponent, Kelly Curran of Grosse Ile 5 and 4.
With a current USGA index of 2, Benedict listed her strength as "distance and accuracy" and "short game." She was a standout on her high school golf team, and won the 1999 MHSAA Division 1 Championship in June. She was also awarded the Miss Golf in Michigan title this year. Kim already has a lot of tournament experience for her young age, having competed in the nationals at the U.S. Junior Girls Championship at Marion Country Club in PA (a "great experience" last summer, according to Kim) and the 1998 Optimist International tournament in Palm Beach Gardens. She also played on the Powerbilt and the Amateur Junior Golf Association tours.
Kim is excited about going to University of Michigan in the fall on a golf scholarship and will be jockeying for position on the golf team. "Playing on the team will be a challenge, as will college itself," Kim commented. Before choosing U of M, Benedict also visited the campuses at MSU, Kentucky and Penn State.
What does an 18-year old Women's State Amateur champion have for goals and aspirations? "To play well in college, and keep improving. My game is only going to get better."
WHAT'S IN KIM BENEDICT'S BAG:
Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha
4-Wood: Callaway Big Bertha
Irons: Titleist DCI
Wedges: 60 degree, 53 degree, sand; Cleveland
Putter: Never Compromise
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