Harrity takes charge after Round 1 of Women’s State Am

HANOVER – In a game where you are shooting for birdies and eagles it is better to be the hunted than the hunter.

That irony will be working in Dana Harrity’s favor Wednesday when the Abenaqui Country Club standout takes a four-stroke lead into the second round of the 54-hole New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association State Amateur Championship at Hanover Country Club.

Harrity, bidding for the 15th State Am title of her illustrious career, shot a 1-over 72 Monday to carve out a lead over 2007 champion Andrea Morrell of Derryfield Country Club, who shot a 76. Harrity is one more shot clear of 2010 champion Chelsea Demers of Bretwood Golf Course, who carded a 77, and two strokes further ahead of defending champion Tara Watt of Derryfield, one of four players who came in at 78.

“The course is definitely different than what I’m used to playing on,” Demers said. “Every hole is different and challenging and the greens are hard and fast. It was hard to get used to in the practice round.

“I think third out of 77 is pretty good. I gave a few holes away on the back nine with double-bogeys and had a few putts that were left out of the hole that should have gone in.”

Amy Peters, whose 80 was the low score from the host Hanover contingent, wasn’t shocked at who was the leader following Round 1.

“If you hit it straight, you are pretty long and are good around the greens you can score well here and that’s what Dana did,” Peters said. “She was very impressive, but it’s no surprise.”

Actually it was a bit of a surprise to one player.

Harrity.

“If you told me I would shoot 72 when I played my first round last Wednesday I’d have told you that you were crazy,” she said. “But I think the more you play this golf course the more you become familiar with it. You learn where you can go for a shot and where you need to back off and hope to get it up and down. But it never gets easy.”

After making bogey on the first hole and standing at 3-over through eight holes, Harrity did manage to make it look relatively easy the rest of the way. Buoyed by a birdie on 9 that gave her a 39 at the turn she traversed the back nine in 1-under 33.

Birdies on the par-4 11th and par-3 12th helped.

“I got kind of lucky and made a couple of long ones,” she said. “That’s what it takes to shoot low scores sometimes. They were probably both about 25 feet. One was going kind of fast and one wasn’t.”

Harrity added her fourth birdie in nine holes on the 17th, playing this week as a 165-yard par-3.

“That’s a blind shot and I hit it on the green about 8 or 10 feet and made that,” she said. “I didn’t even know it was my ball on the green. You get down there and it’s, ‘Oh boy. That’s good. Happy days.’ ”

And that’s exactly what these are for Harrity at
age 53.

“I’m not hitting it as far as I have been at times,” she admitted. “I haven’t been working out as much so I’d definitely say I’m weaker right now than I was three years ago, only because I haven’t been to the gym. I really need to do that to keep my length.

“But I think when you are my age and you’ve played as much golf as I have you tend to play a little smarter, maybe. Especially on a course like this where you need a lot of patience. Just hit in play, keep it in play, and hit it again.”

Joining Watt six shots off the pace at 78 are 2010 State Am runnerup Cortney Tilley of Atkinson Country Club, Harrity’s fellow Abenaqui member Tracey Marshall, and Mindy Ingles-Reid of Plausawa Valley.

The final two golfers to break 80 were sisters Lisanne and Alexandra Schmidt of Eastman Golf Links, who had matching 79s. (Third sister Collette shot an 82.)

Lauren Thibodeau, the 13-year-old who plays out of Windham, is tied for 23rd after shooting an 86.

With a trio of former champions on her trail, the hunted knows there’s still work to be done. “It was a good round and a good start but every day is important,” said Harrity. “The first day is really just jostling for position.”

That may be, but she certainly did a good job of it according to Peters, who was thrilled with a round that had her tied with Harrity at 2-over on the front nine.

“There’s probably a handful of player out here who can chase her but it is going to take a lot of work,” Peters said. “She had put herself in really good position.”