Ethier wins NHGA Junior

GOFFSTOWN – Nashua Country Club members Tommy Ethier and Jack Brown have played countless rounds of golf together. Next time the friends tee off, Ethier will own the bragging rights – and a bigger trophy to prove it.

Ethier, a recent Bishop Guertin graduate, took control early and closed out recent Alvirne graduate Jack Brown on the 17th hole for a 3 and 1 triumph to claim the New Hampshire Golf Association Junior Championship on June 29 at Stonebridge Country Club.

Ethier also won the Division I title during his junior year with the Cardinals. He’s heading to Bentley University in the fall and will play golf. He was happy to complete his pursuit of an NHGA Junior title after being eliminated short

of the final last year by recent Nashua High School North graduate Brandon Gillis, who happened to serve as Brown’s caddie this week.

“I hadn’t really performed well in this tournament in years past,” Ethier said. “I don’t know if it was the match play, or what it was, so it feels good to finally get one in my last try.”

Ethier explained he didn’t feel he was striking the ball particularly well early, but took advantage of his opportunities on the green.

“I think I made timely putts to keep the momentum going, to halve holes or win holes,” Ethier said. “I feel like that’s the biggest different in my game. Now, even when I’m not hitting the ball that well I’m still able to make pars and scratch up something out of nothing.”

Brown, who will play at Siena College, was the top qualifier in stroke play with a 30 on the front nine on the way to carding a 68.

“I think he made about 500 birdies this week,” Ethier said with a chuckle. “He

obviously hit the fairways, hit them close and made putts.”

Brown was disappointed to settle for runner-up, but if he had to lose, it might as well benefit a good friend.

“I really wouldn’t want anyone else to win,” Brown said. “We play together every day. It’s good that he won. We were saying before we came in that one of us should win this, and then it was us two in the championship.”

The looming title match didn’t stop the two from some exchanging friendly jabs via text message the previous night.

“We were talking. We have a group message with NCC and we were talking all night, just joking around,” Brown said. “Once we get on the course, we play it pretty seriously.”

“I think we were both looking forward to it,” Ethier said. “It’s different. It’s not like playing against someone you

don’t know. There’s definitely a different vibe to it.

“At the same time, you still want to beat him,” he added with a laugh.

Throw in Gillis, and three jewels of Greater Nashua’s 2017 golf class were exchanging handshakes once Brown’s par putt on 17 wouldn’t fall.

Gillis could certainly relate to the feelings of both players, as the Wake Forest recruit won the 2015 NHGA Junior title and was the runner-up in 2016 and 2014.

“It’s a long three days – 36 holes Tuesday and Wednesday,” Brown said. “(Gillis) helped me stay with it mentally.”

The tournament started June 27 and Ethier was immediately put to the test by Daniel Pleva. They went 20 holes before Mother Nature interrupted.

“He made like a 25-footer to keep the match going. By the time they drive us over to this tee, it starts thundering and lightning. You come back (June 28) for potentially one hole,” Ethier, who ended up prevailing on the 22nd, said. “It was definitely a little nerve-wracking coming back in the morning to finish that match, but after I got through him, I felt pretty good that I could make a run.”

A run that culminated with a championship.