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Joe Duball's NH Golf: All work, some play for defending champ

July 16. 2017 2:39AM


CHELSEA SEDLAR has spent the majority of her summer watching others play competitive golf while interning with the New Hampshire Golf Association.

The Nashua Country Club member won't be sitting around much longer, though, with her upcoming title defense in the New Hampshire Women's Golf Association Amateur Championship (July 31, Aug. 1-2) at Eastman Golf Links in Grantham.

Despite the lack of time in a competitive setting over recent months, the 20-year-old is more than prepared to defend her amateur title after another sparkling season at Sacred Heart University.

Sedlar followed up a Northeast Conference individual championship as a freshman last season by finishing runner-up in the same tournament in her sophomore campaign. While she failed to retain her conference crown, Sedlar still managed to set the program record for a single-round score with a 70 in the conference tournament as her effort helped the Pioneers win their first-ever conference team title, which led to a berth in the NCAA Division I Regional in Lubbock, Texas, on May 8-10.

"We played the best we've ever played and broke some school records in the conference tourney," said Sedlar, who finished 89th individually at the NCAA tournament while the Pioneers finished last in the team standings.

"Regionals were a new experience for us where we weren't as comfortable as we thought we'd be. We shot scores that didn't really reflect the level of play we thought we could get to, but the overall experience was unbelievable."

Sedlar added that her game was the best she'd ever seen it toward the end of the college season. The record-setting score in the conference tournament was one of many rounds where Sedlar found herself under par, which had never happened for her on a consistent basis at any point in her career.

Playing golf took a back seat following her last college tournament of the season as her USGA PJ Boatwright Internship with the NHGA began May 15.

"The goal with this internship is that if I can't play golf out of school, I want to still be in golf somehow," Sedlar said. "It's been great being behind the scenes and seeing what goes into making a tournament, whereas I would just play in them before this. I never had an understanding of what it took to set things up and make everything run smoothly. It's more complicated than people would think."

Sedlar's learning experience comes with added perks for her game as well. She's been able to get in practice rounds following the NHGA events she's working.

"I'll always throw my clubs in the back of the car with each course we head to," said Sedlar, who added she sneaked in some practice at Bretwood Golf Course in Keene last week during the men's State Am.

"I just go get a quick nine holes in if we have things end early. I'm just trying to take every chance I can to get some practice in."

Sedlar said her game is in good standing as she goes through final preparations for the women's State Am. The highlight within her game these days is her irons, which are stronger than when she won the title a year ago, but her focus for Eastman is her short game.

"I've heard you have to be accurate with your irons on that track, but every round you play comes down to your short game," Sedlar said. "The greens are pretty tricky up there as well. I'm hoping to get up there for a few practice rounds before the tournament to hone in on the putting and chipping. That's where the scoring is going to come."

Retaining the amateur title would mean everything to Sedlar, who credits the NHWGA for much of her development and where her game is now.

"It's a tournament that I love playing in and just love getting out there with the girls," Sedlar said. "This organization is who I started golfing with and who I want to continue golfing with.

"Being the reigning champion does add some pressure to it, but I'm super excited for it. It's more motivation for me to get out and practice in order to show people where I'm at and what I can do."

While she has two years of school still ahead of her, Sedlar does see pro possibilities along the horizon. Sedlar's hope is to gear up for U.S. Women's Amateur qualifiers if not next summer then the summer after.

"I'm going to look for more tournaments where I can play longer courses with better, harder competition," Sedlar said. "My game has already improved tremendously since my freshman year of college. If I can keep that going, doing something like mini-tours or even eventually getting to the LPGA are definitely routes that I will look into and really enjoy if I get there."

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Matt Paradis earned high praise from former State Am winner Phil Pleat. (Allegra Boverman/ Union Leader file photo)

MATT PARADIS may have faltered in the finale of the 114th NHGA Amateur Championship on Saturday, but the 21-year-old isn't far off from some big things, according to New Hampshire amateur golf legend Phil Pleat.

Paradis took down Pleat, a three-time State Am champ, earlier in the week in one of the best matchups of the tournament. While they were locked in a heated battle on Thursday, which Paradis won 1-up, Pleat got a firsthand look at what one of New Hampshire's most promising young golfers has to offer.

"That's a good player there," said Pleat on Thursday. "The thing is he not only hits it straight and long enough, but he has a great short game, too. There's a lot of potential there and he's still got a couple years left in college."

As the NHGA takes on a younger face these days, the 61-year-old Pleat thinks Paradis and the rest of the next wave of amateur golfers just need to continue to get out on the golf course.

"The more tournaments these guys play in as youngsters, the more seasoned they get," Pleat said. "Getting experience like this helps them learn how to get by matches like (Thursday). Matt didn't have his best stuff, but he still found a way to get by. That's a takeaway that you can learn from going forward."

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