Owen J. Roberts senior Maddie Sager selected Mercury-Area Girls Golfer of the Year

An artist’s masterpiece can’t be constructed overnight.

It takes inspiration, years of practice, plenty of fine-tuning and a devotion — all mixed together to develop the right formula for success.

Owen J. Roberts’ Maddie Sager is a testament to that formula. Her senior season serves as the masterpiece she’s spent the past four years crafting.

Her clubs the brush and the course her canvas, Sager put together four remarkable seasons with the Wildcats, ultimately ending her career with a silver finish at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Heritage Hills Golf Club & Resort in October.

“I’ll never forget that day,” said Sager of the second day of the state tournament where she shot a four-over 76 to claim second place. “All throughout the round, I had my coaches, my family and my friends watching. For me, that was the best way I could have summed up my high school career.”

Owen J. Roberts' Maddie Sager is the 2015 Mercury All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year. (Sam Stewart - The Mercury)
Owen J. Roberts’ Maddie Sager is the 2015 Mercury All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year. (Sam Stewart – The Mercury)

For the work of art she’s put together this past season, Sager has been named the Mercury’s All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year. She captured the inaugural title her sophomore season, and hasn’t let it out of her grasp since, earning her third straight this year.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “When I joined the team during my freshman year, I never thought I would walk away with so many achievements. There were a ton of good players across the league this year, so it’s an honor to be chosen out of all of them.”

Her dedication off the course hasn’t gone unnoticed, either.

Sager, who is committed to play at Seton Hall, was named a National Merit Scholar semifinalist after her junior year and was also given the University of Rochester Leadership Award. This year, she was named to the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s All-Academic Team as well as the All-PAC-10 Citizen Team.

Much like a true artist, her attention to detail spelled a recipe for success. She’s known when to take risk and when to play it smart.

That experience and knowledge has paid dividends.

“She’s such a smart player and she’s worked so hard at developing every phase of her game,” said Owen J. Roberts head coach Ted Snyder. “She knows how to play to her strengths and keep herself out of trouble. That’s been a huge factor throughout her career.”

Sager’s golf game continued to get better with time, evidenced by her improved score at the state championships each season (160 as a sophomore, 155 as a junior and 153 over the two-day event as a senior).

“That’s been my goal since the first time I got to states as a sophomore,” she said of improving her overall score. “I knew this season would be my last chance to do something I’d never done before. Finishing second out of every golfer from the entire state — that’s something I’ll never forget.”

Prior to her finish at the state tournament, Sager served as the ace on the boys team during the regular season. She averaged 36.2 strokes per nine holes, turning in the team’s low-round seven times on the season as OJR went 7-1 in the PAC-10 and 10-2 overall on the year.

Owen J. Roberts senior Maddie Sager was named the Mercury's All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year. (John Strickler - The Mercury)
Owen J. Roberts senior Maddie Sager was named the Mercury’s All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year. (John Strickler – The Mercury)

The senior led her team back to the PAC-10 championship match where the Wildcats fell to three-time defending champion Methacton by four strokes.

“That hurt,” said Sager, “because we lost to them by a stroke the year before, so that was one we really wanted. But overall, as a team, we had a really strong season. We weren’t too sure how it would turn out (in the beginning of the season), so to go all the way to the championship was a really big accomplishment.”

Individually, Sager finished third at the PAC-10 Girls Individual Championship at Gilbertsville. She finished two strokes behind Perkiomen Valley senior Carly Dorminy’s even-par 70 for the top spot.

A week later, Sager finished second in the District 1 Tournament, needing a playoff hole to settle the dust with Council Rock North’s Madeline Herr. Sager shot a career-best 5-under 66 at Gilbertsville on the opening day followed by a 74 on the second round at Turtle Creek before falling in the playoff.

“That’s just the way golf goes,” said Sager. “Sometimes you can have your best stuff one day and follow it up with an average day the next.”

But she always kept her focus on the road ahead, never in the rearview.

Battling difficult conditions at the Eastern Regionals, Sager advanced with an 11-over 83 at Golden Oaks.

Having shot a 1-over at the tournament the year prior, Sager and the rest of the field struggled with the mid-October conditions. Between hazardous pin placements, a morning frost and a chilling breeze throughout the round, the cut for advancing increased from 81 to 86 from the year before.

“That wasn’t the way I pictured regionals going. I don’t think anybody scored well that day,” said Sager. “I wasn’t striking the ball well and a course like Golden Oaks will make you pay if you’re not sticking it close.”

No matter her score, Sager played well enough to advance to the state tournament with a fresh slate, a new beginning.

“It didn’t matter what I’d done leading up to it,” recalled Sager, “it was about what I did once I got there. When I got there and got into that atmosphere, everything seemed to fall into place. I put Easterns behind me and focused on scoring my best.”

Sager hardly painted outside the lines throughout her two-day magnum opus.

She limited herself to just two three-putts across all 36 holes, playing conservative and avoiding trouble most of the way.

“You got the feeling that she really wanted to go out on a high note,” said Snyder of Sager’s championship round. “She spent the last two seasons getting more and more familiar with the course and that definitely played to her advantage as a senior. It was such a proud moment for all of us there who watched her.”

Now as she prepares for her collegiate career at Seton Hall, Sager will have an entirely new blank canvas in front of her.

It’s up to her to decide what she’ll craft over the next four years.

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