New Champion to Emerge: Henley & Pepin to Square Off in Final Match of State Amateur

Bedford, NH – Eight golfers began the day, but two remain as the Quarterfinal and Semifinal matches of the 120th New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Wedü with support from Irving Oil got underway at Manchester Country Club.  It was an early start, but the eight starting out were dialed in and ready for the challenges ahead as each of them were vying for a spot in the coveted final match.  Rob Henley (Lake Sunapee CC) and Jack Pepin (Atkinson Resort & CC) outlasted their opponents, tough ones at that, to find themselves in the final match of the New Hampshire Amateur, a place neither has been to before.
Henley had to go through Jon Dyer (Nashua CC) and Evan Rollins (Laconia CC) on his way to the finals.  In his Quarterfinal match against Dyer, Henley actually lost the first hole but halving the next four, Henley won the 6th hole with a par.  Dyer got another one back on the 7th hole in dramatic fashion.  While it took Dyer three to get to the green, Henley was on in two shots, but Henley’s pace on his first putt was off which ended up penalizing him and he settled for bogey.  Dyer rolled in his par save to win it and get back to 1up.
Dyer got to 2up over Henley with a birdie on their next hole and from then on, Henley worked his way back.  He won 10, 12, 14, 16 and 17 to win the match 3&1 and did not allow Dyer to get any more holes on him.  From there, Henley went on to face Evan Rollins in the Semifinals who had just took down the #1 seed, Mat Gover in his previous match, so Rollins had confidence in his game.
“I didn’t know anything about Evan”, stated Henley.  “I was just trying to play like I did on the back nine.”
Henley won the first hole and never let Rollins get an edge up on him in the match.  While Rollins was able to win a few holes throughout the match, Henley recovered by winning the next hole.  Henley won the par-3, 13th hole with a par and immediately following, golfers were pulled off the course for dangerous weather conditions in the area.  After an hour delay, they went back out and Henley closed it out by winning the next two holes, defeating Rollins 5&3.
With it being a long, grueling week of golf, Henley touched on his game saying, “I’m hitting pretty good shots, it comes down to the putting here.  I hit some good putts today.”
His putting and ability to avoid the rough at Manchester Country Club most of the way around has propelled him into the final match.  Last year, Henley had the #1 seed but bowed out in the Round of 32 to Will Ducharme.  This year is a different story for him.  He said, “It feels better.  It kind of stunk last year going out in the Round of 32.  I’ve been playing well so it feels much better.”
With the final match ahead of him, Henley now prepares to take on Jack Pepin, a current Southern New Hampshire University golfer who had to work his way through two of the toughest competitors in the field, Ryan Brown (Passaconaway) and James Pleat (Nashua CC).
Pepin’s Quarterfinal match was against the player with the most course knowledge on his side, Ryan Brown and Pepin got 1up in the match after the 2nd hole but Brown got it back on the 3rd with a par.  From there, the two halved the next three holes before Brown hit his tee shot on 7 into the rough, behind a tree, leaving him without a direct shot in the green.  Brown made bogey while Pepin made par to win the hole and get back to 1up.
They went back and forth for much of the remainder of the match with it ultimately coming down to the 18th hole.  Pepin, with nerves of steel, stood over his putt on the 18th and drained it for the win to advance to the Semifinals against two-time champion, James Pleat.
“James is obviously a great player”, stated Pepin.  “I tried to stick to my own game today and not try to force too many shots, which ended up working well.”
It worked great for him, he won the 2nd hole and held on to that 1up lead until the 8th hole where Pleat made birdie to get the match back to tied.  It didn’t last long as Pepin made birdie on 9 to make the turn at 1up over Pleat.  While the match never got to more than Pepin at 1up, the two exchanged holes for much of the back nine, making for an exciting experience for the gallery that accrued throughout the match.
“I had a few matches this week where I was two or three down, so it was nice to keep it steady”, commented Pepin.
Once again for Pepin, the match came down to the 18th hole where the two were tied after Pleat rolled in an incredible par save on 17.  Stepping up to the 18th tee where Pepin birdied once before, he had confidence on his side.  He said, “I hadn’t gotten in too much trouble on this hole yet, so I tried to stay confident.”
They both hit the green in two and each had a chance at a birdie.  Pleat missed his putt which opened the door for Pepin to close it out, just the way he did against Brown.  He confidently stepped up to his putt and drained it for the win and to advance to the final match against Henley.
Henley and Pepin have never been in this position before, vying for an opportunity at the State Amateur title.  With past champions out of the way, there will be a new champion emerging after the final 36-hole match on Saturday, July 15th.
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