MANCHESTER — Just when it appeared that Nick Tufts was about to end Wednesday’s match against Evan Rollins in the Mike Ryan Memorial Tournament at Derryfield Country Club, things took a turn in Rollins’ favor. And we’re talking about a sharp turn.
Tufts, an 18-year-old Pinkerton Academy graduate, was 5-up with six holes to play, but Rollins made three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15 to keep things interesting. That momentum ended when Rollins lipped out a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 16, however, and Tufts held on for a 2-and-1 victory in the tournament’s Eagle A Championship Flight.
“I knew he could get birdies and my game is getting pars so the bigger the lead I could build the more confidence I had,” Tufts said. “When he started to come back and got those three birdies it was scary. I knew if I just stayed calm and kept my head and kept getting my pars he was going to slow down. That’s what happened on 16 and 17.”
The tournament is named in honor of longtime Derryfield Country Club golf pro Mike Ryan, who died in 2018.
Tufts, who lives in Auburn, was on the golf team in each of his four years at Pinkerton Academy. He’s a member at Candia Woods Golf Links and said he plans to play golf at Southern New Hampshire University.
Rollins, 16, will be a junior at Laconia High School. He won the Eagle B Division in last year’s Mike Ryan Memorial Tournament.
The match was even through four holes, but Tufts was 3-up after nine and won two of the first three holes on the back nine to push his advantage to five holes. His chance at completing the comeback seemed to end when he just missed the 35-foot birdie putt.
Rollins, the son of Laconia CC pro Todd Rollins, said he dug too deep of a hole for himself.
“I was really struggling,” he said. “My putting wasn’t good. It reached a point where I knew I had to make shots to survive. (Tufts) played consistent and did what he needed to do.”
The tournament had five other flights. Zachary Nelson (Youth on Course) beat Madelyn Savary (Youth on Course) 2-up in the Birdie Championship Flight final; Carys Fennessy (Cochecho CC) defeated Eva Gonzales (Intervale CC) to win the Eagle Girls Championship Flight 1-up; Leo Dixon posted a 7-and-6 victory over Ace Chancey to win the Eagle B Tournament Flight; Drew Cameron (Derryfield CC) beat Myles Oquinn (Portsmouth CC) 4 and 2 in the Eagle B Championship Flight; and Danny Benn (Manchester CC) beat Nate Stevens (Stonebridge CC) 4 and 3 in the Eagle A Tournament Flight.
Tufts called Wednesday’s victory the most satisfying win he’s ever had.
“I’ve played in the Mike Ryan since seventh or eighth grade,” he said. “Never had too much luck in it, but I just kept building my game and getting more confident. The better the competition got, the better I got because I knew I had to adapt. This was just my year.”