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Portsmouth Proves To Be Challenge: DeVito Rises Above

July 8th, 2019

Greenland, NH – With the sun shining down all day, the first round of the 116th New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Audi Nashua has come to a close with John DeVito (Passaconaway CC) leading the 156-player field at two-under par, 70.  Portsmouth Country Club was no match for DeVito as his round include one eagle and 17 pars to take the lead.
Following his round, DeVito took a look at the leaderboard and seemed surprised that his 70 for low for the day at that point.  For DeVito, and most other golfers in the field, the challenge was Portsmouth’s greens, which were firm and not holding many approach shots.  Those able to adjust were successful in keeping their scores closer to the even-par number.
“You have to play it atleast a club or two shorter on a lot of the holes because of the firmness”, states DeVito, who figured he wasn’t the first person to comment on that aspect of the course.
DeVito continues saying, “I made all my short putts and made a long one on 11 for eagle and didn’t really get into much trouble.  I was kind of hitting it all over the place with my driver, but this is kind of the place to do that.”
He looks forward to having the first tee time tomorrow and taking what he learned about the course in the first round and applying it to the second, hoping to go even lower to grab the number one seed heading to match play.
Today’s common theme was firm greens providing a challenge for unfamiliar golfers taking to Portsmouth Country Club, while those in the know, knew where to place their approach shots to give themselves a look at birdie.  Craig Steckowych, a two-time New Hampshire Amateur champion and Portsmouth CC member, took advantage of his local knowledge and finished at even-par, 72.  He knew to not hit his approach shots directly at the hole and to leave them short so they could roll UP, based on the talk around the course being the firmness of the greens.
Sitting in second place after round one is Ryan Quinn (Breakfast Hill GC) who has seen this course plenty of times being a local golfer.  With three birdies and two bogeys, he maintained a consistent round.
He commented on what was working for him saying, “My putter was great.  I missed a 10-footer on 18 and that was probably the only putt that I missed that I easily could have made all day.”
Quinn also noted the firmness of the greens and quickly realized he could not fire shots right at the hole as even wedge shots weren’t holding for him today.  For the second round he states, “I just have to be a little more methodical with it and kind of map your way through the golf course.”
Notably, Phil Pleat proved he can still compete with the younger golfers in the field by firing an even-par, 72 to sit two shots back of the lead.  Recently announced, Pleat is set to be inducted into the New Hampshire Golf Hall of Fame alongside three other distinguished golfers and will join an elite group in the Hall of Fame in October.  As a three-time champion of this event, Pleat claims he is playing “old man golf” by keeping the ball in front of him the entire way, but he is far beyond that by hitting numerous greens in regulation and letting is short game take the lead, getting him to even-par.
Joining Pleat at even-par are five additional golfers who will be chasing down DeVito and Quinn, trying to capture the number one seed.  Many golfers have the mindset of just capturing a spot in match play to advance further into the week, with their sights set on that State Amateur title.
Portsmouth Country Club is in pristine condition for the state’s premier amateur golf championship.  The greens were the most difficult part for all the players in the opening round, with many not knowing how to play their approach shots just yet.  Playing at around 6,900 yards, round two may see lower scores as 156 golfers are vying for those coveted 64 match play spots.
The New Hampshire Amateur Championship is a six-day event, beginning with 36-holes of stroke play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday to determine the 64 players who will be advancing to the match play rounds beginning on Wednesday.  One round of matches will be played Wednesday, two rounds of matches will be played both Thursday and Friday, and the championship concludes with a 36-hole final match on Saturday.
Round One results can be found here:
Round Two pairings can be found here: