Maddie Sager has taken her golf game to some extraordinary levels throughout the years.
Now, she’s headed for the big stage.
Sager, a 2016 graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School, qualified for next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship to be held in San Diego, California. She posted a 1-over 71 for second place during the Regional Qualifier at Kenwood Golf & Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland earlier this week to earn her first trip.
“It took some time for it to hit me,” said Sager. “But then after I realized that I qualified, I realized how important, how big of a deal this is for me.”
She finished even with Youngin Chun (Gainesville Fla.), both of whom were four strokes behind the leader Bryana Nguyen (Columbia, Md.) atop the leaderboard.
Not up against a relatively long course at Kenwood, Sager eventually pulled the driver from the bag and focused solely on her location rather than distance off the tee.
“I was hitting my 4-wood right down he middle off almost every tee,” said Sager, estimating that she’d hit 14 greens in regulation. “I was trying to play smart and make pars, not take too many chances.”
Sager and two of her teammates from Seton Hall University — Mia Ness and Lizzie Win — will take on over 150 golfers at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, California from August 7-13.
During her time at OJR, Sager served as the ace to the boys golf team, leading the Wildcats to a runner-up finish her senior year. The three-time Mercury All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year finished runner-up both in the PIAA Class AAA and District One Championships to go along with a bronze finish in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Individual Championship her senior season. That season she was also given the University of Rochester Leadership Award to go along with selections to the PAC’s All-Academic and All-Citizen Teams.
She was a two-time Philadelphia Girls Junior Tour Player of the Year as well as the 2014 Tour’s scoring leader.
Following her scholastic career, Sager went on to golf at Division I Seton Hall University. She was a key contributor to the Pirates’ success as a sophomore last season, competing in all 10 tournaments while logging a pair of top-10 finishes including two sub-par rounds. Her most impressive round came at the Jackrabbit Invitational where she posted a 2-under 70 on the final day and helped lift Seton Hall to a second place finish.
For the year, Sager ranked fourth on the team with a 79.37 stroke average and was named a BIG EAST Academic All-Star. Along with four of her teammates, Sager was also named to the 2016-2017 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholar Team on Wednesday.
Sager will also be joined by two-time PIAA-AAA champion Brynn Walker, a Radnor High School grad who won and qualified at Forsgate Country Club last month. Walker now attends the University of North Carolina.
“It’s a really big deal for me,” said Sager. “I’ll be up against some big time players from all over.”
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship marks the beginning of women’s competitive golf in this country. Along with the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open, the Women’s Amateur was one of the USGA’s first three championships. Although a stroke-play format was selected for the first championship, the Women’s Amateur became a match-play competition in 1896, and has remained so ever since.
As she begins to eye up her first competition trip out to California, Sager was quick to note that she’ll be loading a much different outfit into her suitcase than was originally planned.
“We actually had an Alaskan cruise booked for the same week as the Amateur,” said Sager with a laugh. “My mom was joking ‘I’ll bet you’ll qualify just because we have this cruise.’ But we were able to cancel it. Hey, either way I’ll be going out west.