Liz Nagel and Sarah Hoffman couldn’t be much more closely aligned than they are after two rounds of the 97th Michigan Women’s Amateur at Walnut Hills Country Club in Lansing.
Nagel and Hoffman posted 144 totals after carding identical rounds of 69-75 during the stroke-play portion of the tournament- and were declared co-medalists. A blind draw following the second round gave Nagel the top seed for the start of match play as the field of 90 was cut to the low 32. Like their scores, their games were in parallel as well.
“We were both long off the tee and played our irons well,” Hoffman said. “We played a similar game on both days of the competition.”
After lightning and rain caused multiple weather delays during the first round, different challenges emerged on Day 2. Higher winds and cooler temperatures caused the already difficult greens at Walnut Hills to dry out and scores to balloon.
Most players posted higher scores on the second day of the competition, including high school senior Jacqueline Setas of East Lansing.
The Catholic Central High School star, who recently became the first Michigander to win the prestigious AJGA Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands Resort, shot a 72 on the first day and followed it with an 80 on the second day.
“I had five birdies the first day and only one the second day, so I think that (the wind) was the difference,” Setas said. “I just felt like nothing was really working for me today.”
“The wind was tough to deal with – much tougher than the rain yesterday,” Nagel said. “Today was more of a grind-it-out kind of round for me. I only had one birdie, but the main thing is that I made it to match play.”
“Match play is what this tournament is about,” said Nagel who was diagnosed in late 2012 with thyroid cancer. Following surgery in December 2012 and a recovery period during which she missed only one golf tournament for MSU, she said she relies on two words to get her motivated each day: “Spartan Strong.”
“We’re not here for the stroke play,” Nagel said. “It’s nice to have been medalist before, and it’s great to do that, but still it all hinges on match play.”
Nagel faces 32nd seed Lily Pendy, an all-state high school senior from Grosse Pointe Farms, in her first match. (See Pendy’s recruiting video here.)
Nagel might hope the third time is the charm for her, as this marks her third year as stroke-play medalist in the Michigan Women’s Amateur.