Atkinson golfer wins Stroke Play title to go with earlier State Am win.HARRY KOZLOWSKI
Special to The Union Leader
August 07. 2014 8:17PM
HUDSON — Joe Leavitt shot a 68 in the final round of the 2014 NHGA Stroke Play Championship at Green meadow Country Club in Hudson and became the first New Hampshire golfer to win both the State Am and the Stroke Play championship in the same year.
“It’s been an awesome summer. I think I’ve won four NHGA events including the two biggest ones,” said Leavitt, who plays out of Atkinson Country Club. “It does mean a lot to have a record like this. It feels good.”
Along with the State Am and Stroke Play title, Leavitt won the Player’s Invitational and the Tournament of Club Champions. He also won a non-NHGA event; the Healey Memorial at Atkinson.
Leavitt finished at 8-under-par, 280 over four rounds, two strokes better than Connor Greenleaf from Windham Country Club.
Ryan Kohler, who played his final round with Leavitt, shot the second best round of the day, 69, to finish third. Kohler was in contention after two rounds but shot a 3-over-par 75 the round earlier on Thursday.
The golfers played 36 holes Thursday. Leavitt and Greenleaf were tied at 4-under-par heading into the final round. Thunderstorms interrupted play for about 30 minutes.
Greenleaf fell behind by a stroke after a bogey on four but pulled even with Leavitt with an eagle on 13. Then bogeys on 14 and 16 put Greenleaf behind for good while Leavitt kept making pars.
“I had the putts I wanted today, they just didn’t drop,” said Greenleaf. “You have days like that. Maybe nerves got to me.”
Leavitt was playing two holes ahead of Greenleaf. “You just have to keep your mind on your own game,” said Leavitt. “I mean I heard (Greenleaf) bogeyed this hole or whatever, but you have to stay focused.”
“If you get caught up in the people above or behind you, what they’re doing, you’re just not going to play your best golf,” said Leavitt.
Leavitt said he didn’t putt well this week but made up for it with his wedges and irons. “The key to the week for me was just the wedge play,” said Leavitt. “Anything inside 100 (yards) I was putting real close. I was able to make the shots I needed to.”
So what does Leavitt credit his amazing season to? “I’m a much more patient player now. You just have to stay focused and do the best you can.” He also credits his coach, Mark Spencer, for improving his mental game.
“When I was younger I would get mental about my game. Bad shots would just drag on with me,” said Leavitt. “This year I’ve learned to just shake them off. I’m just trying to keep my mind right.”
Leavitt will play today at the U.S. Challenge Cup Foon Cup event in Cape Cod with Nick Pandelena, but that will be it for the summer.
“I plan to get into good shape and be ready for the fall season at URI (University of Rhode Island),” said Leavitt where he is a junior on a golf scholarship.