After missing State Am due to computer error, Hudson’s Kibbe set for Stroke Play Championship

HUDSON – Hudson’s Josh Kibbe was looking forward to this year’s New Hampshire Amateur Championship at Concord Country Club.

He thought the course set up well for him, and in anticipation of the event he put in for a week’s vacation. But when Kibbe went on line to find his tee time, he wasn’t on the list.

A glitch in the online registration kept Kibbe, who reached the final eight two years ago, out of the tournament.

“It was disappointing, because I was really looking forward to playing,” said Kibbe, who was able to cancel his vacation time and work that week. “When I registered for the Stroke Play (Championship), I made sure it went through.”

Kibbe, who finished tied for second in last year’s Stroke Play event, is just one of a number of top players who missed the State Am but will be playing at Green Meadow this week.

Despite the terrific venue in Concord Country Club, this year’s State Am didn’t attract the strongest field of the state’s top eligible golfers.

Nashua’s Phil and James Pleat were missing, with the latter caddying for the former at the U.S. Senior Open. Both are playing later this month at the U.S. Amateur Championship in Colorado.

Some of the younger players, like Ryan Greenleaf of Windham, who recently qualified for match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur, were playing in national events when the State Am took place three weeks ago.

So was up-and-coming Ryan Kohler of Walpole, who was playing in the U.S. Public Links Championship.

All five, including Kibbe, will be on hand Tuesday at Green Meadow for the opening round of the three-day, 72-hole tournament.

“Course knowledge is helpful and I play a lot of rounds there,’’ Kibbe said. “But most of the players in the state have played a fair amount of golf at Green Meadow.’’

You could argue that this week’s tournament, which concludes with 36 holes on Thursday, has a stronger field than this year’s State Am.

All four State Am semifinalists will be on hand, including 18-year-old champion Joe Leavitt of Atkinson, runner-up D.J. Lantz of New London, and semifinal losers Ryan Friel of the Overlook and Jim Cilley, who plays out of Canterbury Woods.

Cilley won the 2011 State Am, beating defending champion Nick MacDonald of Hanover in the finals. MacDonald went on to win last year’s Stroke Play event by 10 shots.

But MacDonald, who recently started a new job, didn’t play in this year’s State Am and won’t be in Hudson this week to defend his title.

Still, it’s a strong field, and if you had to pick a favorite, you can start with Leavitt. The recent Central Catholic High School graduate was on fire three weeks ago at the State Am, beating Lantz in the finals 8 and 7.

He had eight birdies in the 29-hole match and four over 16 holes in a 3 and 2 victory over Friel in the finals. Friel, the defending Nashua City champion, reached the State Am
final in 2008.

Among the other young golfers who could do very well this week are Laconia’s Chris Houston, Windham’s Nick Fairweather, Matt Killam of Newport and a pair of locals, Griffin Brown of the Overlook and Chase Dembisky of Souhegan Woods.

Brown posted the fifth best 36-hole qualifying score at the State Am (144), including an opening round 68. Dembisky beat Brown
in the opening round of match play before losing in the next round
to Lantz.

Among the other top local players in the field is Steve Lane of Green Meadow. The Nashua High School North varsity basketball coach reached the quarterfinals of the State Am before losing to Lantz.

Amherst’s Josh Chamberlain, a 2009 State Am runner-up and 2009 Mid-Am champion is also in the field, as is two-time Stroke Play champion Craig Steckowych of Portsmouth.