ENFIELD — Unless he signs for an incorrect scorecard, it seems likely that Beaver Meadow Golf Course’s Mark Stevens will prevail in this year’s New Hampshire Golf Association Stroke Play Championship.
Stevens enters today’s final round at Montcalm Golf Club with a two-day total of 133 and is five shots clear of the field. He finished with a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday after opening the tournament with a 66 on Wednesday.
Stevens had nine birdies and four bogeys Thursday.
“It was very eventful,” Stevens said. “I only shot one shot worse than (Wednesday), but I felt like I played awful. A couple unexpected birdies, but I played more solidly yesterday than I did today even though the scores were similar.”
Beaver Meadow’s Jim Cilley is alone in second place at 138. Cilley came in with a 5-under-par 67 Thursday after shooting a 71 on Wednesday.
“Truthfully, if Mark sets his alarm tomorrow and shows up he’s probably going to win,” Cilley said. “I could go out and shoot 63 and it might not be good enough. He’s playing that good.”
Stevens, who lives in Hopkinton, said if he’s protecting a sizable lead late in today’s round he may not be as aggressive, but added that he doesn’t plan to play all that different today than he did during the tournament’s first two rounds.
“Today (Thursday) I wanted to play like I didn’t have a lead — like I was chasing somebody,” said Stevens, 33. “If I have a five-shot lead on the 14th hole, I’m just going to hit an iron to the fairway and wedge it on. Situationally, it’ll play different, but most of the tee shots I’ll probably hit most of the same clubs I did today.”
Carter Country Club’s Pat Pelletier, a Lebanon resident who won this tournament in each of the last two years, began Thursday’s round in second place, four strokes behind Stevens, and followed up his opening-round 70 with a 1-under-par 71. His round included an eagle, five birdies, three bogeys and a triple bogey on the par-4 third hole.
Pelletier is in a three-way tie for third place. Derryfield Country Club’s Dan Arvanitis and Hooper Golf Course’s Ryan Kohler are also at 141 through two rounds. Kohler shot an 8-under-par 64 Thursday, which was the day’s low round and is one shot shy of the course record.
“I was literally all over the map,” Pelletier said. “I hit 15 greens, but it didn’t seem that good. I haven’t been hitting it good all year, really. I make one terrible mistake every round. It’s been a mixed bag of results in terms of tournaments.”
Arvantiis was even for Thursday’s round after nine holes, but birdied three of the next five holes.
“(Stevens) is awfully, awfully strong,” Arvanitis said. “I’m not thinking of catching anybody. I’m just here to compete. If I can shoot even par for 54 holes it’s great.”
A cut was made after Thursday’s second round. The low 40 scores plus ties advanced to today’s final 18 holes.
Stevens said he played the scenic Montcalm course once before this week’s tournament.
“My boss is a former member here, so I came up on Sunday and played with him,” he said. “He kind of showed me around. Gave me some good local knowledge. Had I played it blind, I don’t think I would be in the position I’m in right now. Having some familiarity with the property was pretty crucial to playing well.”