OJR’s Sager finishes 3rd at East Regional

FLEETWOOD >> Pressure: It’s one of few things that can push even the greatest athletes either to achieve greatness or cause them to crumble.

The players definitely felt the pressure on a windy afternoon as they competed in the PIAA East Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club on Tuesday.

Maddie Sager, a junior at Owen J. Roberts, certainly held up to the pressure well by shooting a 1-over-par 73, good enough to tie for third place in the girls AAA competition.

According to Sager, competing in regionals brings a lot of pressure, but after placing eighth last year and fifth in the state tournament, she admits she felt much more experienced and relaxed this time around.

“I was feeling really nervous because I knew the competition was going to be even harder this year,’ said Sager who placed first in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Individual Championship. “But I tried not to think about the competition too much. In my mind, it was just me against the golf course.’

Along with some mental fortitude, consistency and putting well played a role in her day.

“I was hitting my drives and my approach shots consistently,’ said Sager who birdied five holes. “But it was my putting that really did it for me. I was sticking it close and reading the greens really well.’

With 50 boys competing for just 24 spots in the AAA competition, each player knew there was a lot at stake with every swing.

Spring-Ford senior Matt Keim shot a 79, missing the cut by just a single stroke, on a day that none of the four PAC-10 participants extended his season.

“It’s really disappointing,’ said Keim who missed the cut last year by three strokes. “From the very beginning, my goal has been to reach states. I knew this was my last year, my last chance to make it.’

Behind Keim, Methacton sophomore Kyle Vance (80), Spring-Ford freshman Ben Pochet (82) and Perkiomen Valley junior Nate Guerinni (85) all missed the cut as well.

“I just couldn’t put anything together out there,’ said Pochet, who finished with three birdies. “I was never able to capitalize when I had a good shot, which ended up costing me.’

According to Pochet, he felt a lot of weight on his shoulders competing at regionals, something he hadn’t been used to as a freshman.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to play well today,’ said Pochet. “It was something I really wanted to accomplish—to make it all the way to states as a freshman. But I still have plenty more chances to make it in the next few years.’

With at least one more year of PAC-10 golf in front of them, all three have shown potential to come back and compete again next season.

Vance, who won the 2014 PAC-10 Individual Championship and competed as a freshman in last year’s PIAA Championships, struggled to get anything going Tuesday afternoon.

The junior hit just six fairways and 10 greens in regulation while needing 37 putts on the round.

Guerinni started out well, shooting one-over after five, but struggled with putting as he totaled 42 putts on the day.

Although having missed the cut this year, Keim, Vance, Pochet and Guerinni all gained and experienced another round of high-pressure golf Tuesday.

Moving on to the state championship for the second year in a row, it’s safe to say that Sager performs well under the bright lights of regionals.

“I usually play pretty well in high-pressure situations,’ she said. “I think today was an example of that. Going forward, I’m excited to see what I can do this year in the state tournament.’

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