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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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          Alyssa Shimel

 

One day a recently graduated high school senior at Eastwood, the next day Alyssa Shimel qualifies to play with the world’s best female professional golfers.
 
Shimel played in the weekend’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic LPGA Tour event after qualifying against three professionals and another amateur at a qualifying round at Sylvania Country Club. The top two qualified, and Shimel finished second by carding a 74 over the 18-hole round.
 
“It feels great. I’m really excited,” Shimel said. “I was just trying to keep calm and play it one shot at a time. I just thought I’d shoot the best I could and see what happened. I knew I could if I played well, and if I put in the time and the work at it, it was realistic.”
 
“(Sylvania CC) is a pretty difficult course. It has some tight holes and some pretty long rough, and some pretty slick greens. You have to hit the ball pretty straight.”

Shimel was invited to participate in the qualifier by Jamie Farr tournament director Judd Silverman, who gave her the opportunity because she won Ohio’s Division II state prep golf championship last fall. She shot a 13-over par 84 on the first day of competition at the Farr, so she has her work cut out for her Friday if she wants to make the cut.
 
“I thought it was so cool that Judd gave me a spot to play. I think so much of this opportunity, and thanks to him now I get to meet one of my goals and play in the Jamie Farr,” Shimel said.
 
During the qualifying round, Shimel was decked out in University of Michigan colors — where she will be attending college in the fall and play on the golf team.
 
Shimel was to tee off at Sylvania’s Highland Meadows with professionals Jamie Hullett and Joo Mi Kim Thursday morning and Friday afternoon. If she made the cut, she found herself golfing for a championship on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Hullett has been on the tour since 2000, having been named Rookie of the Year her first year. She has $911,514 in career earnings. As a member of Texas A&M University’s golf team, she was the Southwest Conference co-medalist in 1995 and a Second-Team All-American in 1997.
 
Kim has $1,024,979 in career earnings with one career pro victory. Kim finished second in the 2000 World Amateur Championship and placed third at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She was a member of the 1999-2002 Korean National Team and won a gold medal in the 2002 Asian Games.
 
Shimel has played alongside professionals before — having done so at the Aquafina Junior Pro-Am during previous Farr tournaments, and also at the Ohio Women’s Open. She said she even knew well one of her competitors from the qualifier, who she met during the Ohio Open.
 
“I’m hoping to learn a lot from these pros and see what it is that makes them much better than anyone else,” Shimel said.
 
One day after qualifying, her swing coach flew in from Arizona, and she began working out to prepare. Her swing coach was to be her caddy during the tournament.
 
“The scores are pretty low here. I have to work on short game, but that’s almost everywhere you play. These greens are a lot faster than what I normally play, so I’m going to spend a lot of time on putting and chipping,” Shimel said.
 
She has played Highland Meadows before, but this is the first time from the back tees, she said. If she makes the cut — good. If she wins money, she cannot collect because she is an amateur, and no one wants to speculate when she might turn pro.
 
“I think that would be really good to win some money and keep it,” she said, sarcastically. No matter what, she says the experience will tell her how she can do amongst professionals — sort of an indicator of when the time might be right to turn pro.
 
Eastwood girls golf coach John Cavendish says she has “a good head on her shoulders” and he believes she will make the choice when the time is right.
 
She may have the largest gallery at the Farr. She said Pemberville and Eastwood area residents, including her former Eagle teammates, told her they planned on following her over the weekend.
 
“I think it is really cool she made it,” Eastwood teammate Mikyala Young, an upcoming senior, said. “There will be quite a gallery. I think there will be some of our coaches and stuff. I think she’ll be okay. She had a whole group following her at state.”
 
Cavendish, said having a former high school player suddenly competing against professionals was going to speed his heart beat up a bit over the weekend. Cavendish says she has done it before.
 
“What a year? You win the state championship, you graduate from high school, and now you’re an amateur in the Jamie Farr,” Cavendish said. “The girl is giving me gray hairs, I’ll tell you. At state, that was all tied up after 13. It got a little hairy there for a while.”
 
Even a former competitor got into the act. Upcoming Genoa senior Emily Mock said, “It is amazing and I wish her good luck.”
 
Clay girls golf coach Kevin Crosson said, “That’s incredible because we play in the same league and sectional.”
 
Even Eastwood superintendent Brent Welker got into the act. At 3:52 p.m. Tuesday, soon after Shimel completed her qualifying round, Welker received a text from athletic director Chris Fahim.
 
“We have had a number of very neat things happen with our kids this year and having a student qualify for an LPGA event is another very special honor,” Welker immediately broadcasted in an e-mail to district residents.
 
Shimel’s classes at UM start September 7, and at that time she’ll be in full swing as a member of the Wolverine golf team, which competes interscholastically during the fall and spring seasons.
 

 

 

 

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