Shannon Warner, a 23-year-old nanny who caddies more than she plays these days, Michigan State golfer Lindsey McPherson, University of Toledo golfer Jennifer Elsholz, and University of Wisconsin golfer Kimberly Dinh faced off on Friday morning to determine the finalists for the 98th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.
In the end, it was Elsholz and McPherson who prevailed to face each other in the afternoon championship match at the Alister MacKenzie-designed University of Michigan golf course. Both McPherson, who last week played in the LPGA Tour’s Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids via a sponsor’s exemption, and Elsholz are playing in the finals for the first time.
A birdie on No. 17 clinched the 2-and-1 victory in the final match and gave Elsholz the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship to go along with the GAM Championship she won earlier in the year.
“With the amount of work I’ve put in and the way I’ve played this summer, I knew that I have worked hard enough and played well enough to do this, to earn it, to deserve it,” Elsholz said after turning back Lindsey McPherson in the final match.
With the victory, Elsholz became just the fifth golfer to win the GAM Championship and the Michigan Women’s Amateur in the same summer, and she admitted she surprised even herself.
“I’ve gone from thinking I should win to knowing I can win,” Elsholz said. “I went to see my teacher after winning the GAM Championship and he was happy for me, but he also told me I should be on top, should be beating great players because I’m a great player, too.”
McPherson, who will be a senior at Michigan State, said Elsholz was hard to catch after she got the lead on the front nine.
“She left no room for error because she was so solid,” McPherson said. She is a great golfer and she took advantage of me giving her some holes on the front nine.”
After making the turn with a 2-up lead, Elsholz missed the green long on the 13th hole and saw her lead cut to 1-up. The two players then traded pars for two holes, and both made bogey at the difficult par 4 No.16. That brought it to No. 17.
“I told my caddie (and dad, Mike) walking up No. 17, let’s stick it close and get out of here,” Elsholz said. “I played No.18 enough this week. It’s long, and with her length, Lindsey would have had the advantage. I just didn’t want to go there.”
After a great approach shot on No. 17, the final birdie putt by Elsholz gave her the 2 and 1 victory and put her name on the 98th Michigan Women’s Amateur trophy.
“I just wanted to keep believing in myself because I was playing all these great players like Lindsey,” Elsholz said following her round. “I knew it was possible, I knew they would hit great shots. I just had to play and hit the shots, too.”