Back To News

Pleat Goes for History While Gillis Looks to Break Through

July 16th, 2021

North Conway, NH – The two players who are headed to the 36-hole final match of the 118th New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Tuckerman’s Restaurant have been determined.  James Pleat (Nashua CC) will be returning to the final match for the second-straight year in the hopes of defending his title, while Brandon Gillis (Sky Meadow CC) looks to put his name down in history by winning his first State Amateur victory.  Both are worthy competitors that will make for an exciting final match.
Pleat began the day in the Quarterfinals against Ryan Kohler (Hooper GC) who has been on a hot streak all season with him game.  Despite have a tough competitor to get past in the morning, he turned his game on in all aspects to come out with the 5&4 win over Kohler to advance to the Semifinals, a familiar place for him. 
In the Semifinals, he faced Jim Cilley (Laconia CC) who came off a win over the 2020 State Amateur Runner-up, Cam Sheedy (Windham CC Online) who was also hoping to advance back to the final match, but was stopped by Cilley on the 17th hole, going down 2&1.  Cilley, a past champion of the tournament, put up a strong fight trading holes with Pleat along the way.  Pleat ended up getting the edge on Cilley early and didn’t let off his lead, he won the match on the 17th hole, 3&1. 
With the long week of golf, players are bound to struggle with their game at some point, but Pleat was dialed in for all aspects of his game, which helped him defeated the tough competition he faced in the Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds.  He said, “My ball hitting was still pretty solid, I wasn’t really making many mistakes off the tee.  My wedge game was a little bit better.  Basically, everything was working.  It was nice, I just played solid.”
Moving on the final match was the goal all along but to make it happen for the second-straight year is something special.  Pleat commented, “I honestly can’t believe it that I’m in the finals for the second-straight year, it feels great.  It’s a long haul.  I played two great players today where I had to play well to get through and I was lucky enough to get through, so I’m thrilled.”
Having been in the final match of the State Amateur last year, Pleat has the experience over Gillis who will be in the finals for the first time.  When asked what he may have learned last year that he will be taking with him into this final match Pleat stated, “Having it be a 36-hole match is logistically way different.  You can have a small lead or even a 4up lead coming down the stretch and it can evaporate quickly which is what happened to me last year.   So, no lead is safe.”
With his father, Phil, on the bag throughout each match this week and his mom walking along each match, the Pleat family is excited to see if James can make more history by being one of the few who have won the State Amateur for two consecutive years.  If he is able to accomplish it, he will join the ranks of players like his grandfather Thomas J. Leonard, Jr and New Hampshire Golf Hall of Famer Bob Mielcarz.
On the other side, Brandon Gillis will be entering into the final match of the New Hampshire Amateur for his first time.  The further he has made it in the State Amateur is the Semifinal round back in 2018 when the event was held at Hanover Country Club.  He looks to continue what he has been doing throughout the entire week in the hopes of capturing his first title.
Gillis’ road to the final match involved going up against Scott Underhill (Canterbury Woods CC) in the Quarterfinal round and then against Brett Wilson (Golf Club of New England) in the Semifinal round.  In the Quarterfinals, Gillis admitted that both players didn’t bring their best game, likely being over par throughout the match, but Gillis held strong enough to win it 1up.
He went on to face Wilson who is a strong competitor, having taken down the top seed of the tournament the previous day and won his morning match in 19 holes over Nick Hampoian (Golf Club of New England) who was cruising through his own matches.  Gillis and Wilson went back forth, both playing very well, but Gillis got up in the match and even rolled in key putts on the 16th and 18th holes to eventually win it, 1up.
Thinking back to those putts, Gillis said, “There were definitely a lot of nerves, but I’ve been in some similar positions this year already.  Just knowing that you can get through those nerves is very helpful.”
Heading into the match against Wilson, Gillis commented on his mindset saying, “It’s really kind of the same mindset I’ve had all week.  You just have to go out and try to birdie every hole until they are in a spot where they can’t make birdie or par and then you kind of adjust from there.”
That is the game plan he will have as he goes into the final match against James Pleat, knowing Pleat won the tournament last year.  Both players will look to play their own game.  One way or another, history will be made as the 118th champion will be crowned.
The final match of the 118th New Hampshire Amateur Championship will commence at 7AM on Saturday, July 17th.
The New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Tuckerman’s Restaurant is a 6-day championship event that begins with 36 holes of stroke play qualifying to determine the 64 golfers that will advance to the match play rounds.  The tournament concludes with a 36-hole final match.
Match Play Bracket > CLICK HERE