Kibbe takes early lead at Stroke Play tourney

ROCHESTER – Peter Keilty’s share of the lead disappeared when Josh Kibbe, one of the last players to reach the clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, unveiled the only round under par.

That doesn’t mean he left Rochester Country Club disappointed.

Keilty, a Portsmouth CC member, sits in a four-way tie for second place, two strokes behind Kibbe, after the first round of the 72-hole New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship. In all, 22 golfers were clustered within five

shots of the lead.

“A lot of these events, I’ll end up shooting 78 in the first round and it’s over,” said Keilty, who won a state Mid-Amateur title a decade ago. “It’s nice that it’s not over.”

On an overcast morning that gave way to some peeks of sun in the afternoon, Keilty, recently-crowned Derryfield CC club champion Sean Lacey, Damon Salo of Bretwood GC and 63-year-old Danny Arvanitis all shot even-par 72s.

Mike Mahan of Cochecho CC (73), Ryan Quinn of Breakfast Hill (74), two-time champion Craig Steckowych of Portsmouth CC (74), Tom Hixon of Wentworth By The Sea (74) and Scott Rowell of Rochester CC (74) all find themselves among the top 15.

The field was to be cut to the low 40 players and ties after Wednesday’s second round.

In the 18-year history of the Stroke Play, this is the first time it’s being played in the eastern part of the state. Rochester CC, well known to many of the local players, played longer than its 6,600 yards due to the heavy overnight rain, but the greens remained tricky and fast.

“It’s not easy,” said Keilty. “Everything’s in front of you but there’s plenty of trouble spots that you can hit.”

Kibbe, who plays out of Green Meadow GC, came to the par-4 18th as the only player in the field under par. He doubled his advantage by rolling in his fourth birdie of the day to close out his 70.

Arvanitis reached back in time to help his round, which featured four birdies and four bogeys.

Keilty, who last week won his division of the NHGA Parent-Child tournament with his son, Eric, a former St. Thomas Aquinas player, was inconsistent early but birdied three of the last holes on the front to take the early lead, rolling in a 12-footer on the 9th.

His goalafter one round? “A little more consistency with the putter,” he said.

“I hit some nice putts but I also hit some disastrous putts, too.”

Mahan, another left-hander, was 3-over through his first four holes but made only one bogey the rest of the way, mixing in a birdie on the par-4 9th and par-5 15th, and trails by juts three.

Notes

The NHGA and NHWGA released a joint statement Tuesday stating the two organizations will retain their independent structures and missions, but work collaboratively to deliver services such as course rating and building engaging playing opportunities for women. The future of the NHWGA had been in doubt facing a USGA mandate for state and regional organizations to consolidate handicapping operations.

At issue was the split of GHIN revenue between the NHGA and NHWGA. A tentative agreement between them was reached Friday.

“The (NHWGA) believes this tentative agreement outlines a fair and equitable division of resources moving forward,” said NHWGA board president Dana Harrity.

State Am champion Mike Martel of Nashua CC opened with 74 and is in a tie for ninth, four shots behind Kibbe.

Wednesday’s second round tees off at 8 a.m. The final two rounds will be played on Thursday.

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