LAFAYETTE _ The feeling that accompanies what Jess Barry refers to as "coming up short" is unpleasant.
Chatham's Barry, a junior, has had enough of being second and third so she followed up a double bogey on a not-very-menacing par 3 with a impressive birdie on her closing hole.
By righting herself immediately, Barry took first at the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament held on May 27 on the Valleyview Course at Farmstead Golf Club.
"I really, really needed it," Barry said of the birdie that prevented the need for a playoff. "I had a 42 today and the runnerup had a 43 so it was close. It was a relief because I could end on a good note. That really paid off. I've played poorly at times this season and come up short."
By regaining control on the ninth, the 16-year-old Barry was able to garner her first NJAC title. Her drive on the last hole left her 50 yards from the pin. She chipped on and sank a 10-foot putt.
"I was nervous on the last hole," Barry said. "I had trouble finding the break. I decided I should just aim straight at the hole."
Pope John's Rachel Tarnapoll, who took top honors at the NJAC as a freshman, was second with a 43 and Julia Taormina of Pequannock carded a 45 for third. Kirstin Ondris of Vernon (45) was fourth on a match of cards. In fifth place was Francesca Bello of Kinnelon with a 46.
Barry was the runnerup to Rianna Quiogue of Hanover Park at the Morris County Girls Championship at Flanders Valley. She finished a mere one stroke behind Quiogue.
But this time, Barry was in command from the first shot until the last until she dropped the decisive putt. Barry said she had never played at Farmstead. She and her teammates didn't compete in 2014 because the tournament conflicted with testing.
Her iron shots, which haven't been accurate, were on target. Barry weakened her grip recently prior to the Tournament of Champions because her balls had too much draw. She viewed the NJAC as a chance for redemption after the subpar showing at Flanders Valley.
"I was a little distracted when I played in the county tournament," she said. "This was my last match so I wanted it to be good."
The second hole, a par 4 with woods on the right, was a birdie. Barry hooked her hydrid left near the teebox for No. 3. She had a good lie and hit a flop shot onto the green. A four-foot putt ensued.
Holes 5 and 6 were bogey and double-bogey holes, respectively, for Barry. No. 6 was most irritating. Barry's tee shot clipped a branch and landed in the rough. Anxious to recover, she hit the ball into the water.
To prepare for the tournament, Barry played a nine-hole round with coach Steven Kmiec on Tuesday. Her numbers were solid that day and she boosted her confidence.
Barry had only a few hours down time after winning. Chatham held its end-of-season banquet at Fairmount Country Club on Wednesday evening.
"I'm happy," she said. "I got to redeem myself. There are always things you think of that could have made your numbers lower. I hit the ball straight and ended with a win. All I can do is keep improving."
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