HANOVER — Tracey Marshall of Newfields made shot after shot for three days and 53 holes, fighting off the pressure in the New Hampshire Women's Golf Association Championship.
The 54th and final hole at Hanover Country Club, however, turned a smiling 20-year-old into a train wreck on Thursday. Leading by one stroke and needing a par to win the state's 2012 amateur title, Marshall fell apart near the green and carded a 10.
The collapse dropped Marshall into seventh place and gave Dana Harrity of North Hampton her 15th NHWGA title. Harrity (72-81-75—228) watched from the clubhouse as Marshall (78-74-81-233), a fellow Abenaqui Country Club of Rye member, came unraveled.
“Great girl. That's just heartbreaking,” Harrity said. “Hopefully, she gets over it quickly and comes back and wins next year.”
Defending champion Tara Watt of Derryfield Country Club in Manchester finished one stroke back (78-79-72—229) in the 90th NHWGA tournament. Chelsea Demers of Bretwood Country Club in Keene shot an even-par 71 for the day's best score, finishing third at 77-82-71—230.
On the par-four 18th hole, Marshall ripped her drive down the middle of the fairway. With a large gathering of players and spectators watching from the clubhouse, she hooked the approach shot, landing her Titleist next to a tree. From there, Marshall mis-hit three chip shots, the final one of which landed in a sand trap. Two shots to get out of the trap, then another three ended Marshall's nightmarish hole.
► NHWGA Championship scores
“This isn't going to go away easily, but in the long run, it'll give me motivation to prove I'm a good golfer. I'll be mentally tougher,” said Marshall, a former Exeter High standout who played the past two seasons at the University of Montevallo in Alabama. “Dana completely deserves it. She's mentally tough out there.”
Harrity, 53, won her first state amateur title 30 years ago at Abenaqui Country Club. She caught a break on the 18th hole when her approach shot landed short of a deep bunker. In Harrity-esque fashion, she made the up-and-down for par.
Marshall, on 18, wasn't aware she needed a par for the victory. For three days, she tried to block out external factors and focus on her own swing. It failed at the worst time. She cried in the arms of her caddie and father, John Marshall.
Harrity tried to console them. She's known the family for 30 years.
“I feel terrible for her. There's really nothing you can say. I hope she comes back strong. She has the experience. She knows she can do it. She was one full shot away from glory,” Harrity said.
Lisanne Schmidt (79-75-77—231) of Eastman Golf Links in Grantham finished fourth, followed by day-two leader Mindy Inglis-Reid (78-72-82—232) in fifth.
“I told you anything can happen on the last day,” Ingis-Reid, a member at Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke, said.
Cortney Tilley of Atkinson Country Club, a captain on the Siena College golf team, played in the lead group and finished sixth. Twelve-year-old Lauren Thibodeau (86-75-79-240) of Hampstead, representing Windham Country Club, had another strong day and finished 10th overall.
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Kevin Gray may be reached at email@example.com.