Harrity looking for storybook finish at Women’s State Amateur

HANOVER – Even a numerologist who wouldn’t know a three-wood from a three-iron might have to wonder if the stars are aligned this year for Dana Harrity in the New Hampshire Women’s State Amateur Championship, which runs Tuesday through Thursday at Hanover Country Club.

The veteran from North Hampton will be bidding for the 15th championship of her illustrious career on the 30th anniversary of her first victory at Abenaqui Country Club in 1982.

“That had dawned on me,” said Harrity, 53, who won the event in her first attempt. “I remember the first one better than most. I had come up from Connecticut where I had grown up with Barbara Young and Marsha Dolan and other amazing players but I just didn’t know anyone in New Hampshire. So I wasn’t as intimidated. I was the new kid on the block and actually shot the lowest round of my life in the second round, a 67. I hadn’t come anywhere close to that.”

Harrity won her most recent State Am in 2008 when rain shortened the championship at Rochester Country Club to 36 holes.

“It would be fun to win another one,” she said. “I’ll have to play well. There are some good young players in the field.”

Looking to become the first back-to-back state champion since Harrity last accomplished the feat in 1997-98 is Goffstown’s Tara Watt, who plays out of Derryfield Country Club. She used a birdie on 17 and a par on 18 to win last year’s title over Chelsea Demers, of Wilton, at the Golf Cub of New England in Stratham. Demers won the event in 2010.

The 54-hole State Am is being conducted at Hanover for the first time since 1999, when Harrity finished third behind Laura Shanahan. Hanover was renovated one year later and features four holes (11, 12, 16 and 17) that didn’t exist the last time the event was held at the Dartmouth College course.

“The course is a lot different than it was,” said Harrity, who played a practice round last week and another on Monday. “It should be interesting to see how the course holds up as far as scores go. I thought at first the scores were going to be very, very high. But playing it the second time, I’m not convinced of that. I think maybe they’ll be a lower than I thought.

“But it’s easier to play it in the afternoon when the course is dry and there’s no late tee times. So we’ll just have to see.”

Prominent among those looking to challenge in the fifth State Am conducted at Hanover since the first in 1963 are Demers; Cortney Tilley, who was second two years ago and third last summer; three-time champion Louise Billy; 2007 champion Andrea Morrell; two-time NHWGA senior champion Dale Nims; and Lauren Thibodeau, already a two-time state junior champion and a veteran of international competition at just 13 years of age.

Thibodeau, who lives in Hampstead and plays out of Windham Country Club, finished fifth and was the top American in the Optimist International Junior Championship in Florida. She was ninth at the U.S. Kids World Championships at Pinehurst in an event that not surprisingly was won by a girl from South Korea.

Among local golfers who could push the favorites are the Schmidt sisters of nearby Eastman Golf Links. Lisanne won the 2006 state junior title, Alexandra was the 2007 junior runner-up and Colette was second in that event in 2010. Colette, 17, and Thibodeau are the lone juniors in the field.

Notes

• Hanover Country Club will play to par 71 and 5,382 yards for the State Am.

• Host club Hanover is represented by Kathy Allbright, Chris Brownell, Karin Hathaway, Betsy Knights, Aggie Kurtz and Amy Peters.

• The field includes a mother-daughter pair in Nashua’s Barbara Dion and daughter Laurie Ethier, also of Nashua. There are also identical twins playing in Joan Cyr and June Ferland of Rochester Country Club.