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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Harrity ready for State Am starting Monday at Windham Country Club

Thirty-two years on the links has proved one thing to Dana Harrity: Practice certainly does make perfect.

Well, as close to perfect as is humanly possible. ...

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Thirty-two years on the links has proved one thing to Dana Harrity: Practice certainly does make perfect.

Well, as close to perfect as is humanly possible.

The North Hampton resident and Abenaqui Country Club member admits her amateur golf career is winding down. However, at 55 years old, her game is just as strong as it was when she recorded her first New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association State Amateur championship in 1982 at her home club in Rye.

“I’m playing probably better golf than I have in a long, very long time,” said Harrity, who has a record 15 State Am titles on her resume. “I’m feeling good when I get on the course, and my equipment fits me to a T right now. Everything has come together perfectly this summer.”

She proved that at Keene Country Club from June 30 to July 2 when she won that one title that always seemed out of her grasp. In her 25th attempt, Harrity finally won the New England Golf Association Championship.

“Just winning the New Englands, what that means to me, I cannot fully describe it,” Harrity said. “It’s a lot bigger than the State Am. I’ve been there so many times and never been able to pull it off.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m lucky it happened, and now Keene is my favorite course.”

Harrity, who recorded a one-stroke victory over Cohasset (Mass.) Golf Club’s Tara Joy-Connelly, carded 40 pars in 54 holes to go along with seven birdies and seven bogeys. She finished the event with an even-par 216, posting rounds of 1-under 71, 1-over 73 and 72.

Joy-Connelly shot 76, 70 and 71 for 217.

It was down to the wire on that final day, with weather threatening to end things on the back nine. Luckily for Harrity, the storm held off until the final putt – a putt Harrity was stressing over big time.

“That was never-ending,” Harrity said. “I stood over it so many times. I just kept looking at it. It was just an incredible relief knowing that I finished it off.”

It took a little extra effort to do just that.

With a two-shot lead over Joy-Connelly to start the final round, Harrity saw things tighten up early. Joy-Connelly and eventual third-place finisher Pamela Kuong (73-74-72-219), of Wellesley, Mass., and Charles River Country Club, both birdied two of the first four holes, while Harrity posted pars to sit even with Joy-Connelly and one ahead of Kuong. Bogeys on six and nine and a birdie on eight, for Harrity, left all three even at the turn.

The lead changed three times on the back nine as the trio headed down the stretch.

Even two shots down after a bogey on 12, Harrity knew the title was still within reach. Joy-Connelly bogeyed 15, opening the door for Harrity, whose birdie on 16 evened things yet again. When the Granite Stater posted another birdie on 17, she went 1-up with a hole to go.

The nerves of being so close to that elusive title got to Harrity on the 18th tee. She pulled her 4-wood shot onto a road. After a drop, she used her 9-iron to knock the ball onto the green within 30 feet of the pin.

Joy-Connelly reached the green from 60 yards out in the fairway, but could only get within 40 feet of the hole. She rolled her putt 5 feet beyond the hole, setting Harrity up for a two-putt to win.

“I had the worst nerves ever teeing off,” Harrity said. “Then I have two putts to close it out, and I’m freaking out a little.

“Standing over my putt, all I could think was, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got to get this close.’ I thought I hit it too hard at first, but I left it within 3 inches and tapped in. I practically started crying.”

On Monday, that successful and emotional trip to Keene will be in the rear-view mirror as she lines up her first shot up on the tee at Windham Country Club. Despite her New England victory, Harrity says she isn’t really expecting to win her 16th State Am crown.

“At this point, I would certainly never expect to win again,” Harrity said. “I certainly don’t think about winning. I just go out and play the best I possibly can. If winning comes out of that, it was meant to be.”

In more than 30 years of golf, it has been meant to be more often than not for Harrity. Especially during State Am action.