Bowker Brings It Home, Captures His First NHGA Stroke Play Title
Atkinson, NH – The venue changed for the final round, but the leader never did. Joe Bowker began the day with the lead and finished the day hoisting the New Hampshire Stroke Play trophy after a final round 70 (-2) to win the tournament by six strokes. This win is Joe Bowker’s second NHGA title of the season but first individual NHGA title after being among the leaders for a number of tournaments. With his second consecutive runner-up finish, Rob Henley shot 75 (+3) in the final round to finish the 54-hole tournament at even-par.
Bowker came into the final round with a one-shot lead over Henley and knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy round with the State Amateur Runner-up following right behind him. He said, “I knew I had to go low. I had to put the pressure on him [Henley] and play my own game.”
“My biggest thing was to not get wrapped up and feel like it’s a match, there were other golfers on the course that could go low”, continued Bowker.
Starting his final round, Bowker made back-to-back birdies by sticking his shots close to the hole and making the putts. While he was doing that, Henley bogeyed the opening hole to set himself an additional two shots back of Bowker. As the front nine went on, Bowker made one bogey and Henley rolled in a couple birdie putts, closing the lead gap back to just one stroke. But, by the time they made the turn, Bowker extended his lead back to three strokes.
“Today I just really wanted to go out and play pretty aggressively”, stated Bowker. “I’ve been swinging the club well so I put a lot of trust in my swing, and it was working for me so I kept going with it.”
He continued that aggressive play into the back nine where he rolled in birdie putts on 10 and 13 at Atkinson, while Henley wasn’t able to get his birdie putts to fall. Bowker’s lead continued to extend as he rolled in a lengthy putt from just off the green on the 16th hole for birdie to get his lead up to seven shots. With a bogey on the 17th hole, it was back to six shots, which is where it stayed for the rest of the round. A par on the 18th hole sealed the deal for Bowker to claim his first individual NHGA championship title.
Reflecting back on the day, Bowker said, “I kind of struggled to get the putter going again but I was hitting the ball well, so I didn’t need to make putts.”
Earlier in the season, Bowker was a part of the winning team in the New Hampshire Four Ball Championship at Owl’s Nest with partner, Mark Stevens. That win was his first NHGA title and the New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship makes his second. But this one is a little sweeter as this is his first individual title, after being so close for many tournaments.
“It’s awesome, that’s what we play for”, stated Bowker. “I work really hard on the game, so it feels great to have it pay off.”
While Henley finished in second place, Jim Cilley and Tom Hixon finished in a tie for third place. Cilley’s first round of 75 (+3) at Ridgewood Country Club put him over-par for the tournament, but he played back-to-back even-par rounds to finish the 54-hole event at three-over par. Hixon shot the same 73 (+3) for all three rounds to end up at three-over par, tied with Cilley.
Eric Emeneau began the final round at one-under par for the tournament and in third place. Emeneau’s goal from the start was to earn one of the New Hampshire Amateur exemptions given to the top 15 players in the New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship. He exceeded that goal, finishing in fifth place overall at four-over par.
The NHGA would like to thank Ridgewood Country Club and Atkinson Resort & Country Club for graciously hosting the New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship over the last three days. The generosity to give up the golf course does not go unnoticed.
NH Stroke Play | Results