Gillis off to strong start at State Am

With the state’s top amateurs raising their level of play, nothing is coming easy this week at the 115th New Hampshire State Amateur Golf Championship at Hanover Country Club.

As the field of 140 whittled its way down to the final 32 midweek, only one player from area clubs remained in the hunt.

The round of 16 approached on Wednesday with Brandon Gillis of Souhegan Woods, helping lead the way as one of the top players on the course.

Gillis was the No. seed in the 64-player group to make match-play, thanks to two dynamite rounds in stroke play. He put up rounds of 69 and 68, totalling four-under par, to move on.

Gillis then knocked off Matt Keane, 2-up, in his first match and looms very dangerous as things move on toward the title match on Friday.

A slew of players from the region missed on the match-play rounds. They were: Kevin Gaynor (78-77 – 155); Colin McCaigue (79-77 – 156); Gunnar Senatore (77-81 – 158); Chris Girouard (74-84 – 158); Dylan Lortie (78-83 – 161); Mike Cole (80-81 – 161); Justin Maguire (81-81 – 162); Richard Dichard (87-81 – 168); Shawn Lortie (83-86 – 169); Kevin Devine (102-91 – 193); and Byron Brandes (86-WD).

Playing on his former college course, Nashua Country Club’s James Pleat, the No. 6 seed after stroke play, survived a tough battle with Marshall Halpin, closing him out on the 18th hole, 2-up, to make the final 32. The course knowledge certainly helped Pleat.

“It’s definitely a collision of worlds, because I’ve played in the New Hampshire Amateur and this was also something separate,” Pleat told the N.H. Golf Association. “But it was great. It’s definitely good to be back.”

Pleat’s dad, Phil, a three-time State Amateur champ, prevailed in one of two Tuesday battles featuring two area players. Pleat went 19 holes to knock off Green Meadow GC’s Jeffrey Monahan. No. 19 Richard Moreau of Sky Meadow Country Club defeated Passaconaway’s Jared Lamothe in the other, 2-and-1.No. 11 Tommy Ethier of Nashua CC survived a tough battle with Alec Brunelle, 2-and-1.