GOFFSTOWN — Joe Leavitt and Nick Pandelena are 20-year-old Atkinson residents who have been best friends since they were 10. That friendship will be put to the test Friday, when they meet in the Round of 8 at the 111th New Hampshire State Amateur Golf Championship.
Leavitt and Pandelena are scheduled to face each other in match play at Stonebridge Country Club at 8 a.m. Each won two rounds of match play Thursday to advance.
“We’ve been riding up together each day and nothing will change,” Leavitt said. “But once we hit that first tee it’s game on.”
Leavitt, who plays for the University of Rhode Island golf team, attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Mass., and won the State Am in 2012. He beat Nashua Country Club’s Phil Pleat in 19 holes Thursday morning, and knocked off Rochester Country Club’s Jamie Ferullo, 3 and 2, in the afternoon. Pleat is a three-time State Am champion (1981, 1985 and 1997).
Like Leavitt, Pandelena is a member at Atkinson Resort and Country Club. He attended St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., and will be a junior the Boston College golf team.
Pandelena, who is seeking his first State Am championship, beat Windham Country Club’s Nick Fairweather, 1-up, in his morning match, and eliminated Stonebridge’s Josh Chamberlain, 1-up, in the afternoon.
Pandelena captured a three-player playoff that included Leavitt to win the Massachusetts Division I high school golf championship in 2011.
“I think it’s a match both of us wanted, and a match a lot of us wanted to see,” Pandelena said. “Too bad it’s not in the afternoon.
“We’ll most likely remain best friends. We’ll see how it ends, I guess. It’s going to be a blast.”
Matt Paradis, a member at Manchester’s Derryfield Country Club, also advanced to the Round of 8. Paradis beat Manchester Country Club’s Ryan Tombs, 6 and 5, in the morning, and Nashua Country Club’s Ryan Brogan, 5 and 4, in the afternoon.
Tombs eliminated Paradis during match play in last year’s State Am. “I played solid,” Paradis said. “I didn’t lose a hole all day. It’s been the same strategy all week: Try to put it in the center of the green and put pressure on the other guy.”
Paradis hasn’t lost a hole since his front nine on Wednesday — a stretch of 45 holes. He’ll face Newport Country Club’s Michael Killam in match play this morning.
The remaining field also includes Friel, Jim Cilley of Pembroke Pines Country Club, Damon Salo of Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, and Hanover Country Club’s Nick MacDonald.
Cilley (2011) and MacDonald (2010) are the other past State Am champions still in the field.
Bretwood’s Mike Martel, last year’s State Am champ, lost to Cilley, 1-up, in the Round of 16.Today’s two rounds of match play will slice the field to two players and set up Saturday’s 36-hole final.