U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur: 2017 champion Chugg meets Kimberly Dinh in the final
Kimberly Dinh and Kelsey Chugg will face off in the final (USGA Photo)
Kimberly Dinh and Kelsey Chugg will face off in the final (USGA Photo)

Round of 16. Quarterfinals. Finalist.

That’s been Kimberly Dinh’s progressive journey in her three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship appearances, and this time, she hopes she’s not quite done yet.

The 31-year-old from Midland, Mich., playing in her third U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur this week at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa., dispatched two opponents on Wednesday to make her first USGA championship final. In the morning quarterfinals, she defeated Alexandra Austin, 3 and 2, taking a 2-up lead through two holes and never relinquishing it for the remainder of the match.

"It helped to get out to an early lead,” said Dinh. “I just played a lot of steady golf. Had a couple of hiccups on 9 and 10, but otherwise, I just made a lot of pars and made it as easy on myself as possible.”

Dinh, who played her college golf at the University of Wisconsin, has found significant success as an amateur over the last few years. She won the 2021 Michigan Women’s Amateur as the oldest player in the field and captured two of the last four Michigan Women’s Mid-Amateur titles. The senior research specialist at Dow, who just this year competed in her first LPGA event (the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational), is now just one win away from earning the title of USGA champion and an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open.

“I really want to play in the U.S. Open,” said Dinh. “That's probably one of the last things left on my bucket list in terms of competitive golf that I really want to get checked off.”

In her afternoon semifinal match, Dinh and opponent Gretchen Johnson traded blows over the first nine holes. Johnson drew first blood, carding a birdie on the third hole to take a 1 up lead, but Dinh hit right back, winning the fourth hole to even the match. Johnson would win the fifth hole with a birdie, then Dinh would win the sixth hole with a birdie before momentum seemed to shift fully in her favor. She would win the 8th hole to take her first lead of the match, and then pile on and win Holes No. 10, 11, and 14, the last of which included an approach shot hit to four feet and a converted birdie putt.

“Gretchen was hitting good shots,” said Dinh. “I was a little loose with my shots, so I had a slow start. Just kept myself in it and kind of kept plotting along and plugging away. I figured I was going to have opportunities. I was getting enough good shots in the morning that I knew my swing was going to come around, and I would get going.”

Standing between Dinh and a trophy lies 2017 champion Kelsey Chugg, who is back in the final match for the third time in her career. Chugg, 32, of Salt Lake City, Utah, made back-to-back finals in 2017 and 2018, winning the first against Mary Jane Heistand, 3 and 1, and then losing to Shannon Johnson 1 up the next year.

After defeating Taryn Walker, 1 up, in the morning, Chugg hung onto a late lead again to beat local favorite Jackie Rogowicz, of Yardley, Pa., 1 up.

“I really fought hard today,” said Chugg. “It was a tough match. Jackie is a great player, and I'm proud of myself for grinding it out down the stretch. I’m just feeling a bunch of adrenaline still. Just really, really excited to be back in the final again.”

Chugg, whose mother drove six hours after her Round of 16 win on Tuesday night to be onsite at Stonewall today, started to find her footing on the par-3, 135-yard sixth hole, where she hit it to two feet and converted the birdie to tie the match. She would immediately win the next hole with a par after Rogowicz’ ball plugged in a fairway bunker, before capitalizing on another par 3, the 163-yard ninth hole, where she hit it to six feet. With the first 2-up lead for either competitor so far in the match, Chugg made a 10-foot par save on the 11th hole to keep the momentum from swinging back to her opponent.

Tree trouble on the par-4 15th would lead to a bogey for Chugg that would narrow her lead to one. She converted two critical up-and-downs on No. 16 and 18 to hold onto a 1-up victory.

“Nerves started to creep in a little bit on the back [nine],” said Chugg. “The ball striking left me for a little while. I don't know if it ever came back, honestly, but fortunately, the short game came around and made some awesome ups and downs.”

Results: U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
WinMIKimberly DinhMidland, MI700
Runner-upUTKelsey ChuggSalt Lake City, UT500
SemifinalsPAJackie RogowiczYardley, PA400
SemifinalsORGretchen JohnsonPortland, OR400
QuarterfinalsVAAlexandra AustinBurke, VA300

View full results for U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur

The U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur originated in 1987 to provide a national competitive arena for amateurs 25 and older. Besides the age restriction, the event is open to those with a USGA Handicap Index of 9.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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