DeWitt’s Liz Nagel birdied two of the last three holes to finish 5-under 67, taking the first-round lead at the Michigan Women’s Open Championship.
Laura Kueny of Whitehall, and the 2011 Women’s Open champion, shot 68, and was tied for second in the annual event on the Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort with last year’s runner-up, Marissa Chow, a Symetra Tour player from Honolulu, and Alexandra Harkins of Crystal Lake, Ill., another Symetra Tour player.
Recent Michigan State graduate Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn., Scotland’s Rachael Taylor, a former North Carolina State golfer, and Kelly Grassel of Chesterton, Ind., a former University of Wisconsin golfer, shot 69. Burnham won her pro debut a few weeks ago in the Connecticut Women’s Open.
Michigan State player Yurika Tanida of Japan shot 70, and is low amateur in the field at this point.
Three Michigan golfers were part of the group at 71 — Sarah Hoffman of Saline, Christine Meier of Rochester Hills and amateur Sarah Shipley of Hastings, who plays at the University of Kentucky.
The field of 96 golfers, which includes women from 19 states and seven countries, plays a second round Tuesday.
A cut will be made following play to the low 70 scores and ties for the final round in the 54-hole, $40,000 state championship.
Nagel, 26, a Symetra Tour player, birdied the par 4 16th and reached the par 5 18th in two shots to earn a two-putt birdie to finish in the lead.
“At 16 I hit it in there about nine feet and had a little left to right slider that broke about three cups,” she said. “That was a good pin. That hole is usually a good par, but I will take the birdie. I’m putting well and playing well and this course is probably in the best shape it has been ever since I’ve been coming here. The greens are rolling great.”
Nagel had LPGA status after graduating from Michigan State four years ago, but has since been on the Symetra Tour trying to earn her way back.
“The gap between the Symetra and the LPGA in talent is getting smaller, too,” she said. “It is a good place for me to be right now. I feel like it’s making me better.”