By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — THOMPSONVILLE — Anika Dy was easy to spot, but didn’t look out of place.
The 11-year-old Traverse City resident shot an opening-round 85 in her first tournament against professionals Monday in the Michigan PGA Women’s Open.
At barely 5 feet tall and just over 100 pounds, the Traverse City West Middle School student was the youngest player in the field — by almost five years.
“It was a little intimidating at first,” Dy said. “My nerves were really high. But then it kind of calmed down and I did better towards the end.”
Her instructor is Crystal Mountain pro Scott Wilson, so she’s familiar with the course. But she hadn’t played it from the pro tees before.
“I thought it was pretty good,” Dy said. “Just because how long it was and how I couldn’t reach some of the holes (with drives). ... I’m pretty proud of my score. I really think my hybrids were good, because I had to use them a lot to get to the greens.”
California’s Maddelyn Zack is the tournament’s next youngest golfer. She’ll turn 16 in early October. Then there are two 17-year-olds and a handful of 18-year-olds in the field.
First round playing partner Clarissa Childs of South Carolina is 27 years Dy’s senior.
“We had a great time,” Childs said. “She’s a great kid and very mature for her age. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about her in the future on the leader board.”
Childs would know. Six years ago, she was paired with a 14-year-old Michelle Wie at the LPGA Tour’s Michelob Ultra Open in 2004.
“She has tons of potential,” Childs said of Dy. “She’s very sweet and has a bright future ahead of here. She hit the ball pretty straight and never really got in any trouble.”
Dy tees off in today’s second round at 8:18 a.m., paired with a pair of amateurs closer to age in recent Muskegon Mona Shores graduate Britni Gielow and Essexville 20-year-old Brandi Studer, a sophomore at Oakland University.
She’s hoping to play even better in the second round after gaining experience playing from the back tees.
“Since I was coming in with fairway wood and hybrids, I really couldn’t hold the greens like I could from the red tees with irons and wedges,” Dy said. “That made a difference.”
In addition to being the tournament’s youngest player — and the only one born this millennium — she’s also the only one who lists the Traverse City area as her hometown.
After starting golfing at age 6, Dy placed eighth in the 2012 Optimist International Junior Golf Championship with a 77.
She moved from Bad Axe to Traverse City three years ago, and will turn 12 in July.