FARMINGTON HILLS – Yurika Tanida is from Kanagawa, Japan, but a summer of golf in Michigan and playing for Michigan State University’s women’s golf team has her feeling thankful.
“I didn’t grow up in Michigan, but everyone has welcomed me and Michigan has become a second home to me,” she said. “It means so much.”
Tanida is the 2019 GAM Women’s Player of the Year, Ken Hartmann senior director of rules and competitions, announced today.
GAM Players of the Year are determined by the GAM Honor Roll points system. Point totals can be found on a pull down from the Championships tab at gam.org. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories. Previously, Dan Ellis of East Lansing, an assistant coach of Michigan State’s men’s golf program, was named the Men’s Player of the Year.
Tanida, despite being a non-resident and ineligible for the Michigan Amateur Championship, topped the honor roll standings with a dominant 805 points. Qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur and reaching the round of 64 in match play, as well as a tie for second behind winner Sarah Shipley of Hastings in the GAM Championship, keyed her point total.
Grand Valley State University golfer Katie Chipman of Plymouth, who reached the round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, was second with 490 points. Rounding out the top five were Michigan Amateur champion Elayna Bowser of Dearborn with 400 points, Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Tanida’s coach at Michigan State who had 370, and another summer Spartan golfer from Ohio, Haylin Harris, who had 340. Harris also reached the round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Tanida, who is in her junior year at MSU, said being named Player of the Year was a shock.
“I was shocked and so honored when I found out,” she said. “When I was recruited, Coach Stacy gave me the idea to stay in Michigan in the summer and compete in the many GAM and Midwest tournaments, and I was able to practice in a great place in Michigan. It helped me to improve my golf skills.”
Tanida had some highlight moments among the season of top finishes. She set a course record with an 8-under 63 during the Atlas Trophy matches while playing for the winning public team. The round was on the celebrated Stoatin Brae Course at Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in Augusta, Mich.
She also played via a sponsor’s exemption in the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship at Sweetwater Golf Club in Harris and made a hole-in-one (7-iron, 156 yards) during competition on the No. 15 island hole. With the ace she won a 2019 Mazda 3 AWD and was able to keep the car under an NCAA compliance ruling that she cannot sell it until after graduation. The USGA allows items won during competitions, and she remains an amateur, Hartmann said.
“Playing in the Symetra Tour event was so memorable for me because I won the car, but also because I learned so much playing with the professional players,” said Tanida, who shot 75-72 and missed the 36-hole cut. “I watched how they did course management, and how they practiced.”
Her goal is to be an LPGA player. She came to the United States during high school to attend and play golf at Morningside Academy in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. Slobodnik-Stoll recruited her to Michigan State.
“It was a big thing for her to stay in East Lansing for the summer and play so many competitive weeks,” said Slobodnik-Stoll, who has been a GAM Player of the Year multiple times. “I’m thrilled she had the opportunity. It’s a great feeling being the GAM Player of the Year and wonderful that she is getting to experience that. It is exciting for her and our program. Her dream is to play on the LPGA Tour and she works very hard and has the potential physically and mentally. She is as driven as anyone I’ve ever seen try to do this and is an exciting player for us. The more experience she gets shooting the lower numbers the easier it is going to be for her when she turns professional.”
Hartmann describes Tanida as a consistent player with a great looking swing.
“I watcher her play in the U.S. Amateur qualifier last summer and she had a hot spell there for about four to six weeks and played well in everything,” he said. “For not being able to play in the Michigan Amateur as a non-resident, she made up for it by getting points in everything she could. She had an impressive summer.”