Mike Cullity's NH Golf: Berberian eyes Q-School following NH PGA victory
Two days after Irish wunderkind Rory McIlroy blew away the field at the PGA Championship, another young standout notched a convincing victory at the New Hampshire PGA Championship.
With rounds of 68-66, Rich Berberian Jr. won the annual major for the state's PGA club professionals, which marked its 35th renewal at North Conway Country Club last Monday and Tuesday. A 24-year-old assistant pro at Derry's Hoodkroft Country Club, Berberian outpaced defending champion Matt Arvanitis and Greg Sandell by four strokes to win the chapter title for the third time in four years.
Tied for the lead with Portsmouth's Bill Andrews after one round, Berberian played bogey free on Tuesday, leaving his pursuers in the dust with five birdies on the par-71 North Conway layout, including three in the last four holes. Arvanitis, a Concord Country Club assistant, shot 71-67, while Sandell, an assistant at Golf Club of New England in Stratham, shot 70-68. Andrews (68-74) finished fourth but earned the tournament's senior title for the second time.
The victory was a confidence booster for Berberian, who won the Vermont Open in June — thanks in part to a first-round 62, his all-time competitive low — but has had a relatively quiet summer since.
“I'm glad I was able to put a good tournament together,” Berberian said. “The last couple tournaments I played in weren't very good, so I was getting a little nervous.”
Berberian, who narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Open in June, has entered the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, better known as Q-School, for the third consecutive year. He'll tee it up in first-stage competition on Oct. 24-27 in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
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ILL FORTUNE: An apparent case of altitude sickness prompted Phil Pleat's withdrawal from the U.S. Amateur last Tuesday.
After shooting a disappointing 82 in Monday's first round at Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver, Pleat withdrew after 11 holes of his second round at nearby CommonGround Golf Course, the second layout the U.S. Golf Association employed for the tournament's stroke-play qualifying portion.
“I was actually playing better (Tuesday), but I didn't feel good from the outset,” Pleat said. “I started getting dizzy, especially leaning over putts and chips. It was a weird thing. I lost kind of all feeling in my hands.”
After informing an official of his intention to withdraw, Pleat received medical attention on site. “They took my (blood) sugar and most everything checked out, but the (doctor) could tell I was worn out,” he said.
Pleat's illness put a damper on the rare experience of competing in a U.S. Amateur alongside his son, James, who missed qualifying for match play by three strokes. A 56-year-old Nashua Country Club golfer, Phil earned an exemption into the championship by virtue of his runner-up finish at the 2011 USGA Senior Amateur, while 20-year-old James qualified for the second consecutive year. The Pleats became the fourth father-son duo to compete in the same U.S. Amateur, joining Dick and Dixie Chapman (1958), Paul and Brett Quigley (1988), and Michael and David Derminio (2001), according to the USGA. After opening with a 72 at CommonGround on Monday, James shot 74 at Cherry Hills on Tuesday. But because father and son were in opposite groupings in the two-course qualifying format, they did not play a practice round together as they had hoped to.
“You have to play practice rounds in the rotation that you're (assigned) for the tournament rounds,” Phil said. “So I didn't spend a whole lot of time with (James), other than at night kind of going over notes.”
With Phil feeling slightly better on Wednesday, he joined James at Cherry Hills to watch Hanover golfer Peter Williamson's first-round match. Williamson, a teammate of James' at Dartmouth before graduating in June, qualified for match play by shooting 76-67 and surviving a Wednesday morning playoff among 17 players for the last 14 match-play spots. But the 22-year-old subsequently fell to Chris Williams, the world's top-ranked amateur, 3 and 2.
The two other golfers rounding out New Hampshire's U.S. Amateur contingent — New Castle's Nick McLaughlin (73-76) and Keene's Chelso Barrett (77-73) — failed to qualify for match play.
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THROUGH THE GREEN: Hooper's Ryan Kohler, Crotched Mountain's Joshua Chamberlain and Lake Sunapee's D.J. Lantz will represent New Hampshire at the 2012 USGA Men's State Team Championship. The 54-hole biennial championship featuring three-player teams from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico is scheduled for Sept. 19-21 in Galloway, N.J. ... A team of seven juniors representing New Hampshire finished fifth in the New England Junior Amateur Championship in Williamstown, Mass., last Tuesday. Connecticut won the event with a 3-over par total, outdistancing second-place Massachusetts by 29 strokes. Bedford's Ryan Tombs (70-76-75) was the low Granite State scorer. ... Derryfield's Louise Billy (75) and Lochmere's Dale Nims (79) won gross titles at the NHWGA's Senior/Legends Championship at Bretwood last Tuesday. Billy won the senior championship for players 50-59, while Nims won the legends title for players 60 and older. Candia Woods' Nancy Handy (61) won senior low net, while Lochmere's Nancy Jacobs and Waukewan's Yolanda Miller (66) shared legends low net. ... Hanover's Nathan Roth (71) won the boys' title at the NHGA's Bretwood Junior Invitational last Tuesday, while Windham's Lauren Thibodeau (76) won the girls' title.
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Mike Cullity's column on New Hampshire golf appears weekly during the golf season in the New Hampshire Sunday News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.