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Defending champion Liz Nagel of DeWitt was happy to be paired with fellow former Michigan State Spartan teammate Christine Meier of Rochester Hills in the first round Monday of the 26th Michigan Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Springs Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan.

Nagel and Meier matched 3-under 69 rounds on the Mountain Ridge Course, which left them just one shot off the lead of mini-tour pros Kasey Miller of Findlay, Ohio, and Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio, who each carded 68s.

Amateur Anika Dy of Traverse City, a three-time high school state champion who is headed to the University of Michigan in the fall, and amateur Meghan Deardorff of Clarkston, who will be a junior for the Central Michigan University golf team, were also at 3-under.

“It feels good to be out here,” said Nagel, who has missed four tournaments on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour schedule due to family bereavement leave. “I didn’t make a ton of putts, but I made a few good ones. I’m pretty rusty but it was good. I just had to think a little harder and not try so hard because I was rusty. Four weeks is a long time to be gone.”

Meier, who was on the same team as Nagel for four years at MSU and also is a former mini-tour golfer and two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur champion, said it was great to be paired with her teammate.

“There are not as many Michigan State people here this year, but it’s great to see everybody and get a chance to play,” said Meier, who directs the junior golf program at Country Club of Detroit. “I like teaching and coaching a lot.”

Dy, like Nagel, was 4-under through 15 holes. Nagel made a bogey on the par 3 17th, while Dy made bogey at 16.

Several of the players on the leaderboard had tough finishes on the final three holes.

“The approaches to 16, 17, even 18, are pretty tough,” Dy said. “They're good finishing holes. I was pretty steady until 16.”

The field of 90 golfers will play a second round Tuesday with a cut to the low 70 and ties following. The final round in the $40,000 54-hole championship is on Wednesday.

Miller, a former University of Findlay golfer known for getting a public proposal at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2016 from her now husband Jake Miller, was 5-under through 17 holes, but hit a second shot on the par 5 18th into the trees right and scrambled for a bogey-6.

Harford, a former All-American at Furman University, was 6-under through 14 holes after a string of four consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-14. She made bogeys on 16 and 18 to finish at 4-under.

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