OJR’s Sager secures second straight All-Area Player of the Year honor

In previous generations, the phrase “you play like a girl” might have been meant as an insult.

Today, however, you’d be hard-pressed to insult someone for playing like a girl, especially if that someone is Maddie Sager.

The Owen J. Roberts junior became the inaugural Mercury All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year a year ago. A year later, she didn’t let anyone else in on the honor after coming through with a PAC-10 individual title and second straight top 10 finish at the PIAA Championships to earn Sager All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year honors for the second straight year.

She may ‘ play like a girl’ but Sager plays with the boys during the regular season, and to great effect, too — she is the Wildcats’ No. 1 golfer.

In an effort to gain better college prospects, Sager began competing in the boys’ conference and success has followed.

“It’s definitely an extra challenge,’ she said. “But I’ve enjoyed it. It’s fun playing against better competition and it’s definitely a confidence-booster when a girl gets a win over one of the guys. It was a lot of back and forth all season, which was fun and a really good experience.’

Following a stellar PAC-10 season, Sager finished tied for seventh at the PIAA-AAA Individual Championships at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.

Prior to that, Sager won the PAC-10 girls individual championship at Gilbertsville after playing a sudden death hole against Boyertown’s Emily Gilbert. She also placed third at the East Regional Tournament at Golden Oaks with a one-over 73.

Overall, the junior felt consistency was the key to her season.

“I kept my mind straight the whole time and never lost focus,’ she said. “I always made sure I was doing well and having fun the whole way. This season was a really good experience for me.’

While keeping her mind straight, Sager also kept the ball straight throughout the season while averaging just 36.2 strokes per nine holes as the No. 1 player for OJR (7-2), which made it to the PAC-10 Final Four. The Wildcats ended their season with a loss to eventual champion Methacton, 185-198.

She scored two rounds under par, including 3-under versus Downingtown West at Kimberton and 2-under at Hickory Valley against Boyertown and also shot even par at Linfield National against Pope John Paul II.

According to OJR head coach Ted Snyder, Sager has improved each season, something he believes will stay constant through her high school career.

“Nothing ever seemed to affect her on the course whether it be in a negative or positive way,’ said Snyder. “She was always collected on the course, and never allowed herself to lose focus. She played so consistently well in all of our league matches.’

After placing second to Gilbert at the PAC-10 individual tournament last season, Sager swapped places with Gilbert and took home the gold this time around.

Upon finishing No. 18 tied at 73, Sager and Gilbert, two very close friends, went into the playoff hole with the title at stake and a lot of pressure on their shoulders. After Gilbert’s tee shot went awry and into the fescue, Sager played the hole magnificently and finished with a par to take home the gold medal.

“The whole experience was definitely nerve-wracking,’ said Sager. “But it ended up well for me, so I was happy about the way it turned out.’

Sager backed up her golden finish at PAC-10s with a bronze medal at regionals at Golden Oaks, carding a 73 that featured five birdies.

According to Sager, she was hitting her approach shots really well and had her putter working throughout the regional round.

“I was really consistent that entire day,’ said Sager. “I was just making pars and hitting really well. It was really exciting because I tied with top players in the state and I beat a lot of people who are ranked pretty high across the country.’

But Sager feels her best was yet to come.

After stumbling out of the gate with an 80 on the first day, Sager settled in and shot a 75 on Day 2 to tie for seventh and register another top 10 finish at states.

“My overall score was five strokes better than last year, which was a really good feeling,’ said Sager. “This year, the competition got a lot better, so I was pretty happy to finish seventh.’

Over the past couple of seasons coaching Sager, Snyder has seen a great increase in the junior’s skill level and work ethic.

“Each year since she started playing here, Maddie has continued to get better,’ he said. “She is constantly working on her swing, which is why she is becoming a really good all-around player.’

Good results have only made her more driven. She has been spending a lot of time working to improve her game in every aspect as well as her swing, something she knows does not happen in a day’s work.

“I’ve been out there practicing a lot on the range and also playing,’ she said. “You need a mixture of both practice and play to constantly get better.’

With two All-Area Player of the Year awards already under her belt, Sager looks primed to compete against all comers and whatever else may come her again way next season.

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