Nashua CC’s Martin wins Women’s State Amateur

Tracy Martin

GREENLAND — It was the Great Bay version of a duel in the sun on Wednesday, a hot head-to-head battle between leaders Chelsea Sedlar and Tracy Martin at the New Hampshire Women’s Amateur that only one could win.

It turned out to be

Martin.

A back-nine battle at Portsmouth Country Club that was staged several strokes clear of the rest of the field ended on the 18th green, when Sedlar’s 4-foot par putt slid by the hole, one of the only mistakes either of the two Nashua CC standouts made all day.

“It came down to one of us was going to make a mistake,” said Sedlar, a Merrimack resident who was aiming to win this championship for the third straight year.

“Tracy was just bulletproof all day.

“I hate to lose it like that. It’s really hard. I was anticipating playoff holes. I was ready for it. I just couldn’t pull through.”

It’s the second State Amateur title for Martin, a greater Boston resident, who moved to Virginia after winning in 2013 but is now back in the region to stay. She did not make a bogey all day.

“It’s such an honor to win again and Portsmouth is an amazing golf course,” said Martin, who played collegiately at Richmond after starring at Bishop Guertin. “It’s pretty cool because (head pro) Billy (Andrews) used to be our club pro at Nashua. He’s really the first guy I took a lesson from.”

First-round co-leader Tara Watt of Derryfield CC, who began the day three shots off the lead and rounded out the final threesome, soared to an 80 and finished fourth. Maggie Kennedy of Hanover CC shot 76 to finish third, nine shots back.

Sixteen-time champion Dana Harrity of Abenaqui CC was the top local player, her 76 landing her in sixth place. Shivani Vora, 13, of Portsmouth CC was seventh after a second straight round in the 70s (78).

But Wednesday’s climax was pretty much a two-woman show.

Martin, whose quadruple-bogey 9 on the 14th hole during Tuesday’s second round dropped her back, began the day in second place, two strokes behind Sedlar, but took over the lead on the front when Sedlar bogeyed three of the first five holes.

Sedlar, heading into her senior year at Sacred Heart, steeled herself, birdieing three of the next six holes and pulling even. Their head-to-head battle was tied from the 10th hole on, though both had chances to pull ahead.

Sedlar saved herself after taking a recovery shot on the par-4 15th, making a great chip that stopped 2 feet past the hole. Martin then missed a 15-foot birdie try and the match stayed tied.

On the par-3 16th, it was Sedlar’s chance to take the lead, looking at a 10-foot birdie try with Martin short of the green. But Martin chipped efficiently to 5 feet and dropped in her par, while Sedlar’s birdie try was off line.

“The first thing that comes to mind is 16,” said Sedlar, asked afterward the shot she’d most like to have back. “I hit that stiff and she missed the green. I said to my dad (and caddie), ‘This is my chance. This is where I pull away.’

“But again, my putting today wasn’t on. When it comes down to it, my putter let me down today.”

On the difficult, par-4 18th, Sedlar drove into the left rough and hit to the back of the green, leaving herself a 50-foot birdie putt. Her lag putt had the speed right, but stayed out 4 feet to the left.

Martin, from a tricky lie in the fairway, choked down and squirted a shot that cleared the bunker on the right and left her a 30-foot putt from the fringe. After a debate between chipping and putting, she putted to about 1 1/2 feet.

“A friend of mine, (three-time State Amateur champion) Phil Pleat, always says a bad putt is better than a bad chip,” said Martin. “That’s what I went with. … I knew Chelsea had a tough two-putt, for sure.”

Sure enough, Sedlar missed and, with the rest of the field looking on from the pavilion, the tournament was abruptly over.

“Tracy didn’t make one mistake today,” said Sedlar. “I think she had seven missed greens and she got up and down every single time, which was impressive to watch.”

It was a hard-fought title. This time, Martin plans to be around to defend it.

“Chelsea played great today,” she said. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about her game. Sad that it’s how it had to end, but that’s golf, right?”

Other top finishers with area connections included: Sky Meadow’s Lauren Erikson in ninth at 82-84-79 – 245; Green Meadow’s Beth Gutteridge in 10th at 78-84-84 – 246; Nashua CC’s Margaret Brenner, tied for 11th at 85-79-84 – 248; Nashua CC’s Laurie Ethier, 17th at 87-82-83 – 252 and Green Meadow’s Cortney Tilley, tied for 20th at 84-83-88 – 255.