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Blazing back 9 in State Am opener puts Atkinson's Pandelena in lead

GOFFSTOWN — Atkinson’s Nick Pandelena was at even par after 10 holes, among the leaders Monday in the opening round of 111th New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship, when he elevated his game from good to great.

After birdies on holes 11 and 13, Pandelena carded an eagle on the par-5 14th, then added two more birdies, on 15 and 17, as he surged into the lead.

A rising junior at Boston College, where he’s a member of the school’s golf team, Pandelena takes a 6-under-par 66 and a one-stroke lead over New Ipswich’s Damon Salo into the second and final round of medal play on Tuesday.

The top 64 in medal play will advance to match play on Wednesday.

New Boston’s Josh Chamberlain, playing out of Crotched Mountain Golf Club in Francestown, enters the second round of medal play third at 3-under 69.

Three golfers are tied for fourth with a 2-under par 70, including John DeVito of Indian Mound Golf Club in Ossipee, Penn State golfer Chris Houston of Gilford and Laconia Country Club, and Chris Durocher of Lake Sunapee Country Club in New London.

Four golfers are tied for seventh at 1-under par 71 including defending champion Mike Martel of Crotched Mountain, recent Manchester High School Central graduate Matt Paradis of Manchester’s Derryfield CC, Jim Cilley of Pembroke Pines and Michael Killam of Newport Golf Club.

Salo, a member of Bretwood Golf Course who plays for Johnson & Wales University-North Miami, was atop the leader board most of the day.

“I had a good round,” said Salo, who was among the day’s first competitors, teeing off at 7:15 a.m. “I like being in the sun. I like to wake up fresh and be up ready to go.

Pandelena, who plays out of Atkinson Country Club and graduated from St. John’s Prep of Danvers, Mass., teed off at 12:30 p.m. and didn’t return to the clubhouse until after 5:30, when most of the golfers had already left.

The condition of the grounds were a concern for some golfers, especially on the greens, which were bumpy in places made putting challenging.

“The greens were a bit hairy. Nothing (greenskeepers) can do about that,” said Salo. “They got really torn up last winter. (Greenskeepers) put the pins where the greens were healthiest.”

Paradis, who finished the day tied for seventh at 1 under, said finding the right speed putting was a challenge.

“You have to keep the speed down on putts,” said Paradis, the 2013 Manchester city champion. “Otherwise they bounce around.”

Other golfers felt conditions weren’t that bad.

“I thought the course was in great shape,” said Cilley, the 2011 State Am champ. “You hear the horror stories of the winter kill on the greens. I thought they were far better than expected. It’s still rough in patches, but who isn’t in New Hampshire this year?”

Also in the quartet of players at 1-under, defending champ Martel was happy with his opening-day round.

“I had a good game plan coming in and executed it really well,” Martel said.

That put him in better position than after last year’s Round 1, which left him at 10 over par.

“I hit the ball better today than I did last year,” said Martel. “I felt a little jumpy on the first hole, but after that it was great.”


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