Sedlar aims for Women’s State Am title

Editor’s note: Results for the final round were not available by Merrimack Journal presstime. Check back next week for Sedlar’s finish.

RYE BEACH – On a day she wasn’t sure she had anything, Chelsea Sedlar turned out to have everything.

The 18-year-old from Merrimack fired the round of the week at the New Hampshire Women’s Amateur Golf Championship on Tuesday, a 2-under-par 70 that has her taking a five-shot lead into Wednesday’s final round at Abenaqui Country Club.

Sedlar, the runner-up last year who is coming off a strong freshman season at Sacred Heart University, opened with a bogey and then failed to birdie the par-5 second hole, making her wonder whether all of the post-round work she did after Monday’s inconsistent 77 was going to pay off.

It did.

"Then I was just hitting darts, getting them close to 10 feet or 15 feet," said the Nashua Country Club member.

Meanwhile, first-round leader and home course member Dana Harrity was falling back.

The 16-time champion double-bogeyed the 18th hole for the second straight day to shoot 78, leaving her alone in second place but five shots back.

"Bad decisions today; I had lots of them," she said. "I second-guessed myself a lot, especially on the putting greens."

And the 18th hole?

"It’s killing me," she said.

Tracey Marshall of the Golf Club of New England (77-78) and Lauren Erikson of Sky Meadow Country Club (77-78) share third place, eight shots behind Sedlar. Tara Watt of Derryfield Country Club, the 2011 champion, is alone in fifth (77-80).

The field was cut to the top 60 players and ties after Tuesday’s play concluded. Other local golfers among the top 30 are defending champion Lisanne Schmidt (tied for sixth, 78-81), an Amherst Middle School teacher and Souhegan High School golf coach who resides in Manchester; Nashua’s Cindy Perkins (19th, 86-86), a Souhegan Woods member; Nashua’s Margaret Roberts Brenner (tied for 24th, 90-85), a Nashua CC member; and Wilton’s Diane Doran (tied for 29th, 90-90), a Souhegan Woods member.

With the leaders playing first, Harrity and Erikson were the first twosome off the tee at 7:30 a.m. Erikson, a former tennis standout whose ninth-place finish last year was her best in this event, opened with a triple-bogey 7 and then bogeyed the second.

She was 7-over through her first seven holes and in a bunker on the eighth when she got a quick pep talk from her brother and caddie, Kevin.

"He said, ‘All right, enough is enough. Get it close, get the (par) putt and we’ll start over again,’" she said.

She did. Then she birdied the ninth and 10th, and played the back nine even. On the 18th, while Harrity was making double, Erikson rolled a 5-hybrid from 150 yards to within 8 feet, and then made the birdie putt, matching Harrity’s 78.

"It’s good," she said. "This is new for me. Starting in the lead group was pretty daunting."

Marshall felt her round of 78 was similar to the 77 she shot Monday, with a little better putting. Her one hiccup was a four-putt double-bogey on the seventh hole, but she played well from there, making nine pars and two bogeys the rest of the way.

"I know I’m able to shoot low," she said. "I’ve just got to stick with my game plan, attack when I’m able to and know when to hold back."

The 57-year-old Harrity, whose last win in this event came in 2014, ticked off a litany of what she called bad decisions afterward: hitting in the bunker on the relatively easy par-5 second hole; missing the fairway to the right on the par-4 14th hole, leading to a double-bogey; and three-putting too many greens.

It erased any momentum three birdies earned her, and if she wants to win title No. 17 on her home course, she’ll have to come from behind to do it.

"I need to putt better and just hit it more solid," she said. "I just didn’t hit my irons very solid today."

Sedlar kick-started her round with back-to-back birdies on No. 5 and No. 6 – the first of five she’d make during her round. She also made three bogeys, but felt she did a better job of putting herself in good positions on the fast greens, mostly below the hole.

"Fifteen-footers on this course, unlike other courses, aren’t ones you can easily two-putt, much less one-putt," she said.

The runner-up to Schmidt last summer and the Northeast Conference individual champion at Sacred Heart this spring, Sedlar will try to follow up a great round with a championship one. She’ll go out with Harrity and Erikson in the final threesome Wednesday at 10:21 a.m.

"I’m completely different a year later," she said. "Last year when I played this I had very little experience being near the top or playing with pressure. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, being in the last group. Last year I might have been a little scared."