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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thibodeau seeks 4th title in a row

Lately, it hasn’t been a matter of who will win the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association Junior Championship, but how convincingly Lauren Thibodeau will get it done.

The 14-year-old Hampstead native has won the last three Junior Championships, including a nine-stroke victory over runner-up Kaitlyn Lutinski, of Derry, in which she shot a two-under 71 for the day. In that time, she’s been labeled a phenom in New Hampshire golf, destined for a bright future in the sport. ...

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Lately, it hasn’t been a matter of who will win the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association Junior Championship, but how convincingly Lauren Thibodeau will get it done.

The 14-year-old Hampstead native has won the last three Junior Championships, including a nine-stroke victory over runner-up Kaitlyn Lutinski, of Derry, in which she shot a two-under 71 for the day. In that time, she’s been labeled a phenom in New Hampshire golf, destined for a bright future in the sport.

On Thursday morning, she’ll go for her fourth straight crown when she tees off at 8:50 a.m. at Intervale Country Club in Manchester.

“I’m just looking forward to playing in a tournament at Intervale,” said Thibodeau, who will be a freshman at Pinkerton Academy in the fall “That’s where I made my first eagle. Ever since then it’s been really cool.”

Thibodeau is one of 24 of New Hampshire’s best junior golfers who will take part in the one-day event on Thursday, eight of whom will compete in the Junior and Senior 18 holes division, putting them in contention for the championship.

Among those eight is Merrimack native, and rising senior at Bishop Guertin, Chelsea Sedlar. Sedlar, 16, led Thibodeau after nine holes in last year’s Junior Championship, but couldn’t keep pace in the back nine and fell out of it.

Since then, Sedlar said her game has grown tremendously. She won the NHIAA state tournament by five strokes in October, has competed in national tournaments with the likes of Thibodeau and has been practicing up to six days a week since then. Now her sights are set on collecting some more hardware.

“I’ve been working very hard lately on my golf in the last couple years,” she said. “This year I’m definitely looking to kind of have that friendly competition and definitely try to win this time.”

Sedlar added: “I’ve played in this tournament for years in the past and it’s always a lot of fun, as well as being serious at the same time. New Hampshire events are kind of where I started in golf, playing competitively, so these type of events mean a lot to me and the competition is great.”

Sedlar, who will tee off in a group with Thibodeau and Lutinski, is the only area player competing in the 18-hole event. Eva Gonzales, 9, of Nashua, will play in the Pee Wee division, while 12-year-old Jasmine Javanbakht will play in the Junior 9 hole division.

Lutinski, 17, finished second to Sedlar at the state tournament last fall, and led Pinkerton Academy to a third-place finish in Division I. Samantha Reed, of Concord, and Ashley Tewksbury, of Lee, are also noteworthy contenders after strong finishes in the fall.

Tee times

Hannah Drew, Erin Dello Russo 8:30 a.m.; Hayley Reed, Ashley Tewksbury, Samantha Reed 8:40 a.m.; Lauren Thibodeau, Chelsea Sedlar, Kaitlyn Lutinski 8:50 a.m.; Eva Gonzales, Shivani Vora, Kaylee Lintner 9 a.m.; Gabriella Whittier, Gabriella Shetreet, Caroline Driscoll 9:10 a.m.; Jackie Ruggles, Lilly Bogue, Kaitlyn Ford 9:20 a.m.; Hannah McCain, Jasmine Javanbakht, Lauren Barry 9:30 a.m.; Charlotte Whittier, Rowan Perkins, Aislin Murdock 9:40 a.m.; Julie Allan 10:10 a.m.