Many high school golfers put a lot of pressure on themselves in their quest to make it to the PIAA Tournament.
But there was no such stress for Owen J. Roberts sophomore Maddie Sager during the recently-completed fall season because the possibility of making it to states wasn't even in her plans.Instead, she took one tournament at a time, enjoying the ride and just seeing how well she could do at each stop along the way.
That road did eventually lead to the state tournament anyway, where she won a medal with a fifth-place finish.She also placed second in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Individual Tournament, was a key contributor as the Wildcats made it to the PAC-10 Team Final, and was the first girl from the PAC-10 to qualify for the Eastern Regional since that format began in 2006.
All of that makes her the clear choice as The Mercury's first-ever Girls Golfer of the Year.
"That wasn't really my goal,' Sager said concerning making it to the PIAA Tournament. "I wanted to win PAC-10's, but I got a lot further than I expected to.
"I was definitely happy with where I was going. Every time, I never had a goal to get to states, I just wanted to see where I could go. I wasn't having that much pressure on me. I wasn't nervous until I got to states."
Defending champion Sager shot a 78 at Gilbertsville to place second at the PAC-10 Individual Tournament at Gilbertsville, two strokes behind Boyertown's Emily Gilbert. Then she helped her Wildcat team to its first PAC-10 Team Final Four championship appearance since 2005 by shooting a par 34 over nine holes at Kimberton, the best score of the day for either team, in a semifinal win over Perkiomen Valley.
She followed that with a two-over score of 37 at Gilbertsville as Owen J. Roberts dropped the league final by a stroke to Methacton.Then it was off to the District 1-AAA Tournament at Gilbertsville, where she made the cut with score of 74 and a tie for second on the first day. The second day, she shot an 81 at Turtle Creek to finish with a combined score of 155, good for sixth place.
That was good enough to advance to regional play, where she finished eighth with a score of 79 at Golden Oaks.
She wrapped up her surprising year in a two-way tie for fifth at the PIAA Tournament after shooting a two-day total of 160 on the challenging Heritage Hills course in York.
"From last year, I think I got more distance,' said Sager. "I was more consistent in my shots, and my chipping and putting helped too. Getting up and down helps.
"I definitely had bad holes. I tried to forget about it ... take one hole at a time. Even in states, I had some bad holes."
But she also had some very good holes in state play as she came up with three birdies on the second day while shooting a 77, a six-stroke improvement over her round the day before.
"She is a very smart, determined player,' said Owen J. Roberts head golf coach Ted Snyder. "She played a good summer tournament schedule, which challenged her. Her parents are very involved and see to it that she gets the proper instruction. She is athletic, and can hit the ball with good distance. She definitely gained on the top players in District 1."
Sager began playing golf at the age of 6 and plays regularly at Spring Ford Country Club. She is also a member of the school's perennial PAC-10 contender swim team and the chorus.With two more years to study and play in high school, it's still too early to have much of an idea where she'll go to college.
"I honestly have no clue,' Sager added. "I definitely want to play golf in college. I think I want to play golf in college and concentrate on academics.'