THOMPSONVILLE – Traverse City’s Anika Dy hopes to find that Crystal Mountain Resort comfort zone that served her so perfectly a year ago.
“From the first tee shot to my last putt I felt so comfortable out there,” said the defending champion who is returning for the 27th Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship Monday through Wednesday on the Mountain Ridge course.
“It surprised me because that was my first time playing with pros with that kind of intensity. They play with great intensity and it was really cool to feel comfortable in that kind of situation.”
Dy, a University of Michigan golfer who last summer was working as a cart lot attendant at Crystal Mountain, became just the second amateur in tournament history to win the championship that annually draws an international field of professional and amateurs. At age 17, she was also the youngest winner.
She returns with the experience of one year of college and an abbreviated golf season and said she doesn’t think being the defending champion will add any pressure.
“Defending will be different, but I have the mindset to play my game and my golf and do what I can do,” she said. “No pressure added. I play my best golf when I just play my game. That’s really what happened last year. I just played my game and my putter got going and the putts dropped.”
Dy finished third in the recent GAM Michigan Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and admitted with missing a cancelled spring season of college golf she is a little rusty.
“I’m practicing though, and I will have some practice rounds in at Crystal before I play in the tournament,” she said. “The thing on my side is that I always feel comfortable on that course. I know where not to miss it and I know I can make putts there.”
She shot a closing 4-under 68 a year ago featuring a 4-under 32 on the back nine to post a five-shot win with a 12-under 204 total. Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio, who was playing in her first professional tournament after just graduating from Furman University, and mini-tour professional Macy Hubbard of Mason, Ohio, who charged in the final round with a 66, tied for second at 7-under 209. They split first and second-place money from the $40,000 purse.
Dy, a three-time Division 1 high school state champion and Michigan’s unprecedented three-time Miss Golf, will take on a field that is being limited to 78 golfers without a 36-hole cut as part of a COVID-19 pandemic precautions tournament plan devised by Crystal Mountain and the administering Michigan Section of the PGA of America.
The field will play 54 holes of stroke play over three days to determine a champion. With the limited field there will not be a 36-hole cut. All 78 golfers will play each of the three rounds and the professionals will play for a share of an estimated $40,000 purse. A pro-am event traditionally presented by Crystal Mountain before the championship has been cancelled for this year. This is the 18th consecutive year that Crystal Mountain has hosted the championship.
“The resort has stepped up to make it possible for us to have the championship this year, and we have worked with them to develop plans to make it work safely and successfully for everyone,” said Justin Phillips, the Michigan PGA’s tournament director.
Phillips said among the precautions put in place to comply with CDC, state and federal guidelines will be the use of individual carts for each of the players. Also, one volunteer at each hole will be assigned flagstick duties to limit shared touch points, players will be asked to help via cellphone technology with live scoring to cut down on volunteers needed and practice range usage will be limited to 10 players at any one time.
Spectator carts will not be allowed during the championship, and the tournament will not be providing spectator shuttle carts to various points on the course as it has in the past. Phillips said spectators will be allowed to walk with groups provided they practice social distancing.
The field has a large Michigan contingent, including amateurs, this year due in large part to a first-come-first-serve registration for the limited field and pandemic travel restrictions.
Notables playing include LPGA players and former Michigan State University standouts Liz Nagel of DeWitt and Sarah Burnham. They are among 12 current or former Spartans in the field, including Michigan Golf Hall of Fame coach of the MSU women’s program, Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, and the Golf Association of Michigan’s 2019 Women’s Player of the Year, Yurika Tanida.
Elayna Bowser of Dearborn, the 2019 Michigan Women’s Amateur champion, has turned professional and is playing in the championship. Also returning is two-time former champion and former LPGA player Suzy Green-Roebuck of Ann Arbor.
ABOUT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN: Crystal Mountain was established in 1956, and is a family-owned, four-season resort that is nationally recognized for its skiing, golf, and award-winning spa. Located in northwest-lower-Michigan, a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the resort features downhill and cross-country skiing, the Michigan Legacy Art Park, 36 holes of championship golf on two courses, Michigan’s only alpine slide, an outdoor water playground, a variety of lodging and dining options, year-round activities and kids programs, an IACC-approved conference center, weddings, real estate and the Crystal Spa. Visit crystalmountain.com.