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June 19, 2012

Rochester High graduate earns spot in golf major championship

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Rochester High graduate earns spot in golf major championship
Michigan State University’s Christine Meier hits a drive in a tournament earlier this season.

Christine Meier entered the qualifying tournament May 30 at Fox Chapel Golf Course in Pittsburgh knowing that only two women out of the 55-person field would earn a bid into the U.S. Women’s Open.

“I wasn’t sure I’d qualify. I was close a couple years ago, and I was hitting the ball well coming into it,” the 2010 Rochester High graduate said. “We played the course before, and I liked it. I felt confident, but I definitely didn’t think I was for sure going to the Open.”

Meier was also confident standing over a 5-foot putt on the second playoff hole to give her the exemption.

“The nerves were kind of there a little bit, but I tried really hard not to think about it, and I was putting really well all day so it probably wasn’t as bad as if I was missing all day,” she said.

Meier didn’t miss and finished second in the tournament, giving her entry into the Women’s Open July 5-8 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.

Meier, who is going into her junior season with Michigan State University, shot 151 (74-77) over the 36-hole tournament.

She’s the first Spartan to play in the Open while an active member on the team since Allison Duncan did it in 2003.

“It kind of didn’t sink in that I was going to the Open until I called my mom and called my coach,” Meier remembered. “My dad was so excited for me, and my sister was so excited for me. It was a few moments after that that I thought, ‘Wow, this was what I was literally working for my entire career.’”

Meier’s sister, Amy, is a 2009 Rochester graduate and going into her senior season at Ohio State University, where she was named All-Big Ten last season. She missed qualifying by two strokes.

Christine Meier’s second round did come with some struggles. She bogeyed No. 13 and 14, but kept her composure.

“I wasn’t happy about it, but at the same time in the back of my mind I knew that I probably wasn’t the only one to bogey those two holes,” she said. “If you get yourself into a panic, the round really starts going down hill. I was hitting enough greens that I figured I’d have other birdie opportunities.”

Michigan State coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll feels Meier’s patience is one of her greatest attributes.

“Christine is a very talented, determined young woman who is very driven. All players at this level understand that in a qualifying situation, you focus on one shot at a time and the rest will take care of itself, and that she did,” the coach said.

Meier’s patience will be tested when she joins the best golfers in the world at the Open.

At the college level, Meier plays in tournaments usually 6,300- to 6,400-yards long. By comparison, the Open will play 6,954, including a par 5 that is 602 yards.

“It’s just mentally accepting the fact that, ‘Ok, hit the fairway and then hit it down to the green the best I can.’ It’s about having confidence that I can still make par,” she said.

Meier added that she’s looking forward to playing alongside some of the stars from the LPGA and learning from their games. Ultimately, she wants to play professionally, but for this tournament, one of her goals is to make the cut.

“I think that would be a huge accomplishment, but at the same time, I really want to soak the experience in,” she said. “I can’t even picture what it’s going to be like yet, but my biggest goal is to enjoy every second of it.”

Meier’s caddy is sure to enjoy it, too. Her dad, Randy, will be on the bag.

“Very quickly after I sank that putt, I knew that I wanted him on the bag and no one else,” she said. “That’s an experience I’ll never forget, walking down the fairway in the U.S. Open with my dad on the bag.”

Catching Meier
The Open will be televised all four days. On July 5-6, it’ll be shown from 4-8 p.m. on ESPN2.

On July 7-8, it’ll be on from 3-6 p.m. on NBC.

For more information on the event, visit www.usga.org.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.