Stroke Play Qualifying of Match Play Championships at Challenge with Windy Conditions at Stonebridge CC

Goffstown, NH – The common sentiment from all competitors after the 18-hole stroke play qualifying round of the Match Play Championships at Stonebridge Country Club was that it was difficult out there.  Windy conditions and firm, fast greens led to some higher scores, while a few were able to keep their game in check to land at the top of the leaderboard for their respective divisions.
In the Women’s Match Play Championship, Deb Clauson (Portsmouth CC) held her round together well enough to earn the top seed of the Championship Flight of her division.  With a round of 87, she edged out Margaret Brenner (Nashua CC) by one stroke. 
Clauson came into the round lacking confidence in her game when it comes to playing at Stonebridge CC, especially with the par-3, 6th hole that forces you to hit over a pond that protects the front of the green on her mind.  She walked away with a bogey on the hole and ended the day at the top of the leaderboard.  Brenner, always a tough competitor, led the way in the Women’s Division by one stroke after nine holes.  After making the turn, she made two double bogeys to start her second nine which set her back from Clauson.  With an 88 on the round, Brenner takes the second seed in the Championship Flight of the Women’s division. 
Excitement came when a playoff was needed to determine the final spot in Championship Flight of the Women’s division between Yuhui Svendsen (Souhegan Woods GC) and Zoe Daboul (Pease GC Online).  Svendsen came out on top in the playoff which only needed one hole, Svendsen defeating Daboul by one stroke.
In the Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship, Keith Stone (Pease GC Online) took the top seed as he fired a 77 (+5), one stroke better than Ryan Blossom (Lake Sunapee CC).  Stone’s front nine was one of the best on the day at just one over par, his single bogey coming on the par-4, 3rd hole at Stonebridge CC.  With an up and down back nine, he managed to keep his score to just five-over par, 77 and walk away with the top seed.
Blossom, who returns to New Hampshire golf this year after living on the west coast for a number of years, set the tone early by going even-par on the front nine with two back-to-back birdies to start his round and two bogeys.  The back nine at Stonebridge is certainly the more challenging nine holes on the golf course and it showed in his score as he carded six bogeys to finish at six-over par, 78.
“Heading to the back nine, obviously there’s some tough tee balls from the back tees.  I managed to hold on and make some bogeys in some situations that looked like double”, commented Blossom following his round.
“The winter here in New Hampshire is a little bit to get used to, so I’m still dusting off some rust there”, stated Blossom.  “Chipping and putting is probably the thing that takes the longest to come around, so I definitely need to work on that but tee to green I hit the ball pretty well.”
The Mid-Amateur golfers who were able to shoot 86 or better found themselves in the Championship Flight of the division with Match Play rounds slated to begin next month at Beaver Meadow Golf Course.
The Senior Match Play Championship saw some of the top senior golfers in the state competing with names like Phil Pleat (Nashua CC), Bob Mielcarz (Concord CC), and Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC), to name a few.  Pleat showed us that his game is starting off in a great spot this season as he went out and fired a four-under par opening nine, which turned some heads.  Like many others, Pleat saw the difficulty in the back nine, but managed his game well to keep it to just two-over par on the back nine, finishing with the only under-par round of the day, 70 (-2).
Talking about his strong front nine, Pleat stated, “I was trying to keep it in control with the wind.  I made four birdies in a row, I guessed right on some of the reads, so I made some good putts.”
Pleat commented on his back nine saying “On the back, I kind of fell asleep a couple holes.  I three-putted and hit a couple poor chips, but I finished well.  I hit two good shots on 18 and made the putt so I’m happy.  With the conditions and the wind, it’s tricky.”
The off and on wind which continuously changed direction throughout the day made it a challenging round out at Stonebridge Country Club.  The golf course was in great condition; competitors faced firm and fast greens, forcing them to think about their different approach shots into the green.
The Match Play Brackets for each division will be released tomorrow, Wednesday, May 11.  The first round of matches will be on June 17 at Beaver Meadow Golf Course.

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