THOMPSONVILLE – Jessica Welch of Thomasville, Ga., saw an eight-shot lead dwindle to just one before making a seven-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the 31st Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship presented by Coca-Cola by two shots.

“It’s very humbling and I’m very grateful,” she said after her closing 1-under 71 Wednesday on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain, the host of the championship for a 22nd consecutive year.

“Just to be able to come to a beautiful place like this and be with great people and get to play, and then to win it all in the end is just the cherry on top. Honestly, I’m grateful and humbled over the moon, and might be a little bit shocked.”

Welch, 30 and headed back to the LPGA Epson Tour and Kansas City with a $7,500 first-place check, started the final round with a six-shot lead and managed to stay firmly ahead through most of the day.

Then Taylor Kehoe of Strathroy, Ontario, a new Michigan State University golfer via the transfer portal from the University of Alabama, charged with a 5-under 67, capped off by a chip-in eagle 3 on No. 18 to close within one shot.

“I’m so glad I had already hit my third shot to the green when Taylor chipped in for eagle,” Welch said. “We were a little shaky coming down the stretch. I won’t lie. Taylor played really great and put some pressure on me. It felt really good to make that seven-footer for birdie on 18 to end it. I had trouble making putts all day.”

Welch finished at 12-under 204 after her 71 for the wire-to-wire win, and Kehoe’s 67 put her at 206.

Julia Stevenson, an assistant professional at Birmingham Country Club, shot a closing 70 for 213 and third place.

Shannon Kennedy, another Spartan and the recent Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion, closed strong with a 69 and was tied at 214 with Alejandra Llaneza of Mexico, who also shot 69.

Sandra Angulo Minarro of Mexico, who shares the host housing of Pam and Steve Perry where Welch stays each year, was among three who tied at 215.

Minarro made sure the Epson Tour tradition of pouring water on the winner appeared at the Michigan Open by greeting Welch on No. 18 with a splashing pour.

The others at 215 included Oakland University golfer Olivia Hemmila of Troy, who shot 70, and Northwestern University golfer Jiayi Wang of China, who shot 72.

Kehoe, 20 with two years of golf eligibility remaining for the Spartans, was elated with her eagle finish and her round. It was her first tournament action since April and in the same field with her new head coach, MSU’s Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll.

“I didn’t get off to the best start, but I pulled it together and I made some birdies and then chipped in for eagle, that was nice,” she said. “It was cool to play well in Michigan and come back here again. We’ve been here before and it’s always a really nice tournament. It’s always nice to be back at Crystal Mountain.”

Welch said that maybe her biggest win was a U.S. Open sectional to get in the national championship, but she said this one is up there as well.

“This one means the most to me for sure,” she said. “This is my fifth year here and I wasn’t kidding when I said it is therapeutic. Great place, great people, great tournament. You just breathe a little easier when you are up here.”

In the Michigan PGA Senior Women’s Open, being played as a new first-time age division (over 50) tournament inside the tournament, Suzy Green-Roebuck, the Michigan Golf Hall of Famer and former LPGA Tour player from Ann Arbor, made more history.

She was the winner of the inaugural Michigan Women’s Open in 1994 and has three wins total. She is also the winner of the first Michigan Senior Women’s Open after shooting a 4-under 68 to close with a 7-under 209 total.

Cheryl Fox, the director of golf at Fostoria Country Club in Ohio, was second after a 70 for 215, and another Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and former LPGA Tour player, Elaine Crosby of Jackson was third after a 74 for 218.

Green-Roebuck took home a first-place check of $2000. The Senior championship was presented by the Great Lakes Sports Commission and Crystal Mountain.

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ABOUT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN: Established in 1956, Crystal Mountain is a family-owned, four-season resort destination located 28 miles southwest of Traverse City and a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The 1,500-acre resort features lodging, dining, downhill and cross-country skiing, two championship golf courses, shopping, award-winning Crystal Spa, Michigan’s only alpine slide, Peak Fitness, the Park at Water’s Edge, Michigan Legacy Art Park, weddings, a conference center, and real estate options.

SPONSORS: The tournament’s presenting sponsor is Coca-Cola, a long-time partner of Link to Crystal Mountain’s photos and videos.Crystal Mountain. Click sponsors to see a list of the great support that makes the championship possible.

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN CONTACT: Brittney Primeau, Director of Communications, 231-378-2091, Link to Crystal Mountain photos and video.