BELMONT, Michigan (WLNS) – Michigan’s golfer Valery Plata spent an entire week in the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club.
In addition to being the only amateur in the field, Plata made the weekend cut on Friday and played in front of her family who had flown in from Colombia to see her at her first LPGA Tour event.
As if that weren’t enough for Plata, who attended MSU for another two years, she was able to learn from the best of the game. Literally.
In the final round of the tournament, she was paired with South Korean Jin Young Ko, who is the number 1 golf player in the world.
“It was pretty unreal,” said Plata. “I couldn’t believe it when I tee off, but then I thought, ‘Wow, she’s really good and there’s a reason she’s # 1 in the world.’ I learned a lot from her and was able to compare it to her from my game. It’s just a blast. ”
“Valery is playing at a really high level. She is one of the 60 best amateur players in the world, ”said MSU golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. “She’s really had the chance over the last four days to see what she has to do to get her game up to this level.”
“Valery is like a little sponge,” added Slobodnik-Stoll. “She observes and always notices everything. I know that she has certainly learned a lot from this experience. “
Plata would finish the final round at -1 after fucking her last hole of the day and finish the tournament at -4.
In his second year (2019-20) at MSU, Plata was named Big Ten Player of the Year and All-Big Ten First Team. Her success and her time as a Spartan have played a big part in her success at the Meijer LPGA Classic.
“We can play with pretty good players all year round and I know it’s only a matter of time before they are here and hopefully I’ll be here sometime,” said Plata.
“She believes in herself and knows that she is good enough to make the cut,” said Slobodnik-Stoll. “Even though she plays with the best professionals in the world, she really is an incredible player herself.”
Another Spartan who was part of the field, former MSU golfer Sarah Burnham, who made her LPGA Tour debut at the Meijer LPGA Classic in 2018, scored a -4 in the final round and finished the tournament with -9.
“I think I played solid overall,” said Burnham. “It’s been a pretty accessible course this week so many scores have been low, but I’m happy with the way I meet him.”
Just like Plata, Burnham has learned a lot from her time as an amateur at the Meijer LPGA Classic in 2018 and knows that experience will make Plata’s transition from amateur to professional a little easier.
“I’ve been very nervous as an amateur and any experience can help you grow and get better as a golfer,” said Burnham.
Burnham will travel to Atlanta next week to compete in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on the Highlands Course.