Self-taught Kohler teaches 'em a lesson to grab State Am medalist honors
GOFFSTOWN — Ryan Kohler said he’s never taken a golf lesson, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him on the course.
Kohler, a 30-year-old Chesterfield resident, shot a 6-under-par 66 at Stonebridge Country Club on Tuesday. That score, coupled with the even-par 72 he shot in Monday’s first round, earned him medalist honors in the 111th New Hampshire State Amateur Golf Championship.
Kohler, who plays most of his golf out of Brattleboro (Vt.) Country Club, had a bogey-free card Tuesday, when he shot the lowest round of the day. He’s also a member at Hooper Golf Club, a nine-hole course in Walpole.
“My golf background is pretty limited,” Kohler said. “No golf in high school. No golf in college. I picked it up after college and caught the fever.
“I’ve never had a lesson. I hit a lot of golf balls and just figured it out. I’m a bit obsessive about things. I was either going to figure it out or stop playing.”
Kohler’s two-day total was one better than the 139 turned in by Matt Paradis, an 18-year-old Hooksett resident who graduated from Manchester Central High School earlier this year. Paradis, a member at Manchester’s Derryfield Country Club, followed up the 71 he shot Monday with a 68 Tuesday.
“I hit 17 out of 18 greens both days, I just putted a little better today,” Paradis said. “Rolled a couple in.”
Kohler attended Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, and then played baseball (he was a pitcher) at Keene State College. This is the fifth time he’s competed in the State Am. His best finish came in 2011, when he lost to eventual champion Jim Cilley in the semifinals.
Kohler was 6-under-par through 10 holes Tuesday, and completed the round by making eight pars.
“It was a clean card, which is unusual for me,” Kohler said.
Mike Martel and Damon Salo, both of whom play out of Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, completed medal play tied for third at 140. Martel, who shot a 69 Tuesday, won last year’s State Am.
“I hit the ball solid all day,” Martel said. “I didn’t make many mistakes in terms of ball striking. It was pretty boring, actually.”
The tournament field was trimmed to 64 golfers following Tuesday’s round, when the cut was made at 156. Nine golfers finished under par in medal play.
Eight golfers were involved in a playoff that determined the final three spots for match play. Rich Reeves of Canterbury Woods Country Club, Tommy Ethier of Nashua Country Club and Derek Mahoney of Manchester’s Intervale Country Club advanced. Each made a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Those golfers who survived stroke play will be dealing with a different animal today, when the tournament shifts to match play. There will be one round of match play today, and two rounds of match play on both Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s championship is scheduled for 36 holes of match play.
First-round leader Nicholas Pandelena followed up his opening-round 66 with a 5-over-par 77 Tuesday. Pandelena, a Windham resident, made a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 17th, and a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 18th. He began his day on the 10th hole.
Pandelena is an Atkinson resident who is a member at Atkinson Resort & Country Club. He played high school golf at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., and is currently a member of the Boston College golf team.
Wednesday’s first pairing (Kohler vs. Reeves) is scheduled to tee off at 8 a.m.