THOMPSONVILLE – Chelsea Dantonio thinks she might be related in some very distant way to former Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio, given they share a not-so-common name.
“Everyone up here has asked me that,” said the definite leader of the 29th Michigan PGA Women’s Open through two rounds at Crystal Mountain.
“I have an Uncle Mark, but he’s not that Mark Dantonio.”
Dantonio, a 24-year-old second-year professional from East Aurora, N.Y., shot a 5-under 67 on the Mountain Ridge course Tuesday and checked in a 2-under 142.
Crystal Wang of Los Angeles who will be fifth-year senior golfer at the University of Illinois in the fall, shot 70 for 143.
They are the only two golfers in the field of 74 under par in some testy winds through the first two rounds, but 15 golfers are within five shots. The final round is Wednesday in the 54-hole, $40,000 open state championship. The winner will take home $7,000. The Michigan PGA has opted for a two-tee start for the final round with the final group going off No. 1 at 9:50 a.m.
Dantonio, who played collegiate golf at Winthrop University in South Carolina, said she has been struggling with her game recently, including during her first-round 75, but her putter warmed up and putts started falling in the second round.
“This just gives me a push forward and will help me get going,” she said. “I’ve been getting down on myself, but the putter was hot and I think that’s what it comes down to a lot of the time, especially when shooting lower scores.”
Jocelyn Bruch, an amateur from Carmel Ind., who had a hole-in-one in Monday’s first round, shot 71 and is one of four golfers at 145. The other three are mini-tour pros Adeena Wilcox of Mineral Wells, West Va., a former Ohio State golfer who shot 72, Jessica Welch of Thomasville, Ga., who shot 73, and first-round leader Sandra Angulo Minarro of Mexico, who shot 78.
Caroline Ellis, the assistant coach at Michigan State and reinstated amateur who shot a second consecutive 73, was part of a trio at 146.
Dantonio said she loves the greens on the Mountain Ridge course.
“They are in awesome shape,” she said after shooting a 4-under 32 on the back nine with birdies at 12, 14, 16 and 18.
“I can’t say anything bad about the course or my putting. It’s really pretty awesome here.”
Dantonio said she got in the Michigan PGA Women’s Open at the last minute.
“I was going to play in a tournament in Atlanta that got pushed back, so I was scrambling to find around one and looking up state Opens trying to find another tournament,” she said. “I saw Michigan and figured it was like a 7 1/2 -hour drive. And I entered like the day before the deadline and I’m glad I did.”
Dantonio said it has been a few years since she played in a final group. She planned to visit a local Alpaca Farm Tuesday evening to unwind.
“We’ll see how the nerves react tomorrow,” she said. “I’m learning a lot and I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow.”
Wang said a few lucky shots helped her move up to second place, including making a 60-foot birdie putt on the par 3 No. 2 hole. The 21-year-old does not have a collegiate win and is still undecided if professional golf is in her future, but she said she is looking forward to playing in the final group.
“I like playing with really competitive people so it’s going to be a fun, fun day,” she said. “I didn’t have a goal. I just came to have fun and play as well as I can.”
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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.
INFORMATION: Tee times and results through the week can be found at michiganpga.com. Justin Phillips of the Michigan PGA is the tournament director and is available at 517-641-7421 or email@example.com.