NHWGA Championship: Martin wins game of inchesBy JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 15. 2018 7:55PM
PORTSMOUTH — Golfers know their game is one that boils down to yards, feet and even inches.
The deciding moment of the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association Amateur Championship offered a reminder of all that Wednesday.
Tracy Martin and Chelsea Sedlar were bound for playoff holes to decide the NHWGA championship when Sedlar saw her par putt on the 18th hole at Portsmouth Country Club burn the edge of the cup, paving the way for Martin to take her second NHWGA crown.
Martin, who last won the NHWGA title in 2013, finished 3-over-par for the tournament after combatting a 3-over 75 on Thursday with a 2-under 70 on Friday. Sedlar, who won the last two NHWGA titles, wrapped up her final round at 1-over 73 and was 4-over for the tournament after bringing a two-shot lead into the final round.
“It came down to one of us needing to make a mistake and Tracy was just bulletproof all day,” said Sedlar, who was tied with Martin from the 12th hole on. “I said (Tuesday) if someone came out and shot par and then somebody shoots under par to beat them then good for that person. That’s what Tracy did here. She didn’t make one mistake today and was almost 100 percent on up-and-downs I think.”
Both Martin and Sedlar produced less-than-ideal approaches into the par-4 18th. Martin slid off the right side of the elevated green and into the first-cut of the rough, but she was still closer to the hole than Sedlar, whose approach to the back of the green set her up with a birdie putt from around 50 feet. Sedlar’s birdie trickled 4 feet left of the hole while Martin putted out of the rough to within 2 feet.
The dramatic turn came the pair knew had to come finally did when Sedlar’s par putt rolled through the left-edge of the hole.
“I only had (the first putt) breaking maybe a couple inches, so coming back I figured the same break and aimed just outside of the hole,” Sedlar said. “In hindsight, I shouldn’t have given the hole away. I hit my putt where I wanted to on the line so it must’ve been an incorrect read or that first putt hit something on the way by that caused it to move that far left.
“It’s hard losing, but especially to go like that. I think I’d rather hook a drive out of bounds on No. 18 than miss a putt like that.”
While Sedlar was caught off-guard by the miss, Martin was both surprised and unsurprised with how her shot at a regulation win came to be.
“With as much golf as I have played, it’s not the first time I’ve seen that happen,” Martin said. “It’s hard when the nerves are getting to you. I mean I was shaking over my putt after and it was 1½ feet. It’s not over until the ball is in the hole.”
Martin’s good fortune actually began with her approach on No. 18. The former University of Richmond golfer thought long and hard which club to use for her second shot before making her selection. She narrowly missed both the bunker and heavy rough on the face of the hill up to the green.
“It was 135 yards in with a bit of a downhill, side-hill lie. I just wanted to get up there so I kind of choked down and it kind of squirted on me. I wasn’t thrilled with how it came out of there, but it left me with a great opportunity to make an up-and-down,” Martin said.
The breaking point in the stalemate between Martin and Sedlar could’ve come early had each not squandered opportunities. Sedlar put her tee ball on the par-4 16th into the trees and went up and down to save par while Martin three-putted. Martin left her tee shot short of the green on the par-3 16th while Sedlar stuck hers to within 20 feet, but Sedlar two-putted and Martin gutted out a par to keep things square.
No player came within eight shots of Martin and Sedlar, who both play out of Nashua CC. Hanover CC’s Maggie Kennedy finished third at 12-over while Derryfield CC of Manchester’s Tara Watt (14-over) and Pembroke Pines CC’s Mindy Reid (17-over) rounded out the top-five. Sixteen-time NHWGA champion Dana Harrity finished sixth at 18-over.
Many peers and spectators foresaw the tournament coming down to either Martin or Sedlar. Besides the some tough luck on her opponent’s part, Martin thought her win just boiled down to patience.
“I just tried to play one shot at a time, but really I always go out and try to play the golf course,” Martin said. “I try not to think about much else and that’s where I was at today.”