Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vt., will return to defend his title in the 79th New Hampshire Golf Association State Open Championship set to begin Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at Owl’s Nest Golf Club in Campton. A field of 138 golfers, including 42 amateurs, will compete in the 54-hole stroke play tournament Wednesday and Thursday.
Following Wednesday’s round, the field will be cut to the low 40 scores, plus ties. Two rounds of stroke play will be played Thursday following the cut. Any ties for overall first place or for low amateur will result in a hole-by-hole playoff immediately after regulation play has finished Thursday.
Seven of the top 10 finishers from last year’s New Hampshire Open, won by Larson at Stonebridge CC in Goffstown, are returning to play in Campton.
The low amateur in last year’s New Hampshire Open was Nicholas Pandelena of Atkinson. He just finished second last week in the 72-hole New England Amateur Golf Tournament in Winchester, Mass.
Overall, Pandelena shot three-under-par and he was in second place throughout the three-day tournament in Winchester. Pandelena made 41 pars, 16 birdies, 13 bogeys, one double bogey and one eagle.
“Pandelena just recently played in a state four-ball tournament here (in Campton) and played extremely well,” said Owl’s Nest head pro Charlie Wheeler. “To me, he’s a complete player who can execute an assortment of shots very well.”
Wheeler said the Owl’s Nest has been home to a NHGA State Am Tournament in 2002 and has hosted many NHGA State Four-Ball Tournaments over the last eight years.
“The NHGA has liked the way we’ve hosted their tournaments, likes the way the course sets up for the players,” said Wheeler. “From our clubhouse, spectators can see most of the action on six different holes, including the ninth and 18th holes.”
Wheeler labeled many of the holes on the backside as being “risk-reward. There are some holes, if you choose to play them aggressively, where you can reach the green on two shots and score well. But if you miss the green, you can pay a steep price.”
Other title contenders this week include Jimmy Lytle of Ocean Ridge, Fla., Geoffrey Sisk of Marshfield, Mass., Matt Smith of Thompson, Conn., Jason Thresher of West Suffield, Conn., and Shawn Warren of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Michael Welch of North Quincy, Mass., who won the 2008 New Hampshire Open, is also in the field this week.