CONCORD — Nine-time champion and tournament top seed Bob Mielcarz, competing on his home course, is making a memorable run at another State Amateur crown. But a golfer less than one-third of the legend's age is building considerable momentum.
Look out for 18-year-old Joe Leavitt. The No. 2 seed at the New Hampshire Golf Association's 109th championship advanced without playing his best.
“I didn't play that well. But I didn't make any mistakes,” Leavitt said Wednesday after ousting Mark Douglas, 6-and-4, in the match-play Round of 64 at Concord Country Club. “I kept it down the middle, hit a few good wedge shots. I didn't really make any putts. But I only had one three-putt, I think. I was just pretty steady.”
Leavitt (Atkinson Resort & Country Club) on Tuesday won his second consecutive Ty Abate Award. The award is presented annually to the tourney's golfer, age 19 or younger, who posts the lowest score in medal play.
He finished with a 1-over-par 141, one stroke behind Mielcarz.
► State Am match play results, Round of 32 pairings, tee times.
A wedge shot on the fifth hole allowed Leavitt, a Florida Southern recruit, to take control against Douglas (Concord CC). The teen missed the cup by inches, then nearly birdied the sixth hole.
“I won three or four holes in a row. I was 3-up through 10,” said Leavitt, who reached the Round of 8 last year at Nashua Country Club. “I pretty much cruised in from there with pars.”
The 62-year-old Mielcarz, possibly playing in his last State Am, defeated No. 64 seed George Craft (Hanover CC), 3-and-2.
Mielcarz recovered from bogies on Nos. 5 and 6 — and a mishit on his second shot at the seventh hole — to create separation.
“I was, maybe, close to 20 yards short of the green,” Mielcarz said. “I knew losing three holes in a row would have been trouble. I worked really hard to get up and down, and I hit it within 6 inches. That was the key to the match.”
Mielcarz's solid strike sparked a surge. He posted birdies on holes 9, 11 and 13.
“Three tough holes,” he said. “I pretty much built a comfortable lead.”
The highest seeded golfer bumped from the bracket was No. 8 Griffin Brown (The Overlook GC of Hollis). Two days after his sizzling 2-under 68 in stroke play, he was ousted by Chase Dembisky (Souhegan Woods GC of Amherst), 4-and-3.
Though it wasn't an upset based on seeding, No. 40 Dan Arvanitis (Derryfield CC of Manchester) was defeated by No. 25 DJ Lantz (Lake Sunapee CC of New London). Arvanitis, the 2001 State Am champ, lost 2-and-1.
Two matches required a 19th hole to decide. Will McLaughlin (Concord CC) and Joshua Chamberlain (Crotched Mountain GC of Francestown) emerged with wins.
McLaughlin trailed John DeVito (The Overlook) by three holes with three to play. Chamberlain knocked off Jake Nutter (Manchester CC) in a back-and-forth duel, setting up a Round of 32 match with No. 4 seed Jim Cilley (Canterbury Woods CC).
Cilley, the defending champ, beat Johnny Schuder of Manchester's Intervale Country Club, 6 and 5.
“Both of us struggled on 18,” Chamberlain said. “Jake scrambled and made par. I hit one of the best putts I've made in a long time. I punched out of the left bunker, but my ball went over the green into the fringe. I hit an 18-footer to force extras.”
Chamberlain pared the 19th hole to cement today's showdown with his good friend.
Weare's Joey Bowker, a senior-to-be at John Stark Regional, suffered from extreme misfortune.
Bowker (Duston CC of Hopkinton) was 1-up through 16 holes. Using a 3-wood for his second shot on 17, he pushed it wide into a tree. Bowker was boosted 5 feet off the ground by caddie Paul Sheppard to identify the ball, which was ruled unplayable.
Taking a one-stroke penalty, Bowker had to drop the ball under the tree. His ensuing shot clipped the branches and landed in the bunker. He lost holes 17 and 18, leading to a 1-up win for 14-seed Matthew Killam (Newport GC).
“There's nothing you can do about it. It happens — although it doesn't really happen that often,” said the 16-year-old, a first-time match-play qualifier. “That's golf.”