SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Carol Mitchell understands the odds are against her of winning a fifth title but that did not prevent the former four-time champion from throwing her name in the championship flight this year despite being more than twice the age of her three competitors.
On day two of the 76th edition of the Lima Area Women’s Match Play tournament at Shawnee Country Club on Friday, Mitchell found herself trying to stay competitive with the trio of college players, Jill Schmitmeyer (University of Findlay), Catriona Griffin (UNOH) and Haleigh Gray (UNO).
Mitchell, who shot a 102 in the championship flight, said she decided to participate in the much more difficult championship flight because of the low numbers in the bracket.
“ I told (tournament director) Asa (Donaldson) that if he needed me in the championship flight I would be there but then I checked championship flight only just because I figured he would need me,” Mitchell said. “I did it and enjoy playing with these girls. I love it.”
Former St. Marys Memorial standout Schmitmeyer continued her excellent play. After shooting a 68 at Delphos Country Club on Thursday, the Oiler linkster followed it up with a 71. Gray and Griffin finished with identical 79s.
“I am just in awe on how far they can hit the ball,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know if I was trying too hard today trying to keep up with them but I can’t do what they do. My head is saying yeah but …”
Even though she is not hitting the long ball or posting the low scores the other trio is, Mitchell said they have been a fantastic two days of golf and a joy to play with and watch this young talent excel.
“They are very nice girls, and they could not have been nicer or kinder to me,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had a good time.”
With match play beginning at Hidden Creek today, Mitchell, like the last two days, is not conceding anything but knows it will be tough to make it to the finals.
“I played better yesterday than I did today but I know I am still going to be in fourth so I should have not tried so hard,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell added that she said the new format that included two days of qualifying rounds is a step in the right direction.
“I think it is a fair way of doing it,” Mitchell said.
Connie Shutt, who was the clubhouse leader in the open flight division after Day 1 with an 87, shot an 88 on the second day to come in with the low score for a second consecutive round and echoed Mitchell’s sentiment about the two-day qualifying round.
“I kind of like it,” Shutt said about the new format. “I feel like there is more interest and more ladies are into it because there are more flights and they feel like they will be put in a flight they belong in and so I like the two days qualifying. I think it has been good.”
Shutt said she is happy with her scores. At Delphos she said she had a solid front nine but “fell apart” on the back nine Thursday and said it was the opposite today at Shawnee Country Club where she struggled on the front and rallied on the back to score below 90.
“I wanted to shoot in the 80s, and I was pleased with my score,” Shutt said.
Even though Carol Miller, who had the high score on the first day (104) of competition and backed it up with another rough outing (116) on the second day, agreed that the format is better for the tournament and is having fun playing despite her high numbers.
“I actually like two days of qualifying, and I know some people don’t but when you have one bad day you can have a second bad day,” Miller joked. “I really do like it. I’ve been up and down, and I think I set a city tournament record by having the highest score on a single hole (14). I don’t think anyone has beaten it so that’s how special it has been. I handled it very lady like. I did not curse. I did not throw a club or anything.”
Finishing second in the open flight was Debora Hemmert with a 92 followed by Nancy Clum with a 97 on Day 2.
In the senior flight, Tamara Pope came in with the low round on day two with a 91 followed by Becky Komminsk with a 92. Carol Jackson was third with a 94 followed by Joan Whittaker with a 95.
Whittaker said she is also in favor of the new format and said it has been a fun two days.
“I think it was fairly obvious that we increased participating,” Whittaker said. “I think the format is working, and it gives people the opportunity to play this course (Shawnee) and other courses, and I think that is beneficial for people who are not members of this club.”
Whittaker added, “The other thing is we were able to increase some sponsorship money this year, and it has helped out a lot, and I think it provided lunch today and carts tomorrow and Sunday. I’m hoping this is the beginning of some growth. I have been playing this tournament since the 1960s and I would like to see it keep going.”
Match play begins at Hidden Creek at 2:30 p.m. today.