Nashua’s Pleat leads NH golfers

Of the five New Hampshire players competing this week in the U.S. Amateur, Nashua Country Club’s James Pleat posted the best score in Monday’s first round of qualifying, a two-over 72.

The Dartmouth College senior posted his score on the par-70 CommonGround Golf Course, one of the two Denver area courses used during qualifying. Each of the players in the 312-golfer field plays one round each at CommonGround and the par-71 Cherry Hills Country Club, where all matches will be played beginning on Wednesday.

The top 64 golfers will move on to match play, and Pleat is tied for 86th going into Tuesday’s second round, which for him will be at Cherry Hills. Among the other golfers tied with Pleat are California’s 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who challenged at the U.S. Open, and 17-year-old Andy Shim, who won last month’s U.S. Junior Amateur.

The second best score posted by a New Hampshire player was by Nick McLaughlin, of New Castle, who will enroll at the University of Virginia in a few weeks. The recent graduate of St. John’s Prep in
Danvers, Mass., shot a three-over 73 at CommonGround.

The other three New Hampshire players opened at Cherry Hills on Monday, including Nashua’s Phil Pleat, who shot an 11-over 82.

The 56-year-old father of James Pleat has played in a number of U.S. Amateurs, including the 1980 tournament at Cherry Hills. The three-time New Hampshire Amateur champion, who reached the finals of last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur, had a tough day Monday, including a triple-bogey on the par-5 17th hole.

Peter Williamson, a college teammate of James Pleat, also had a rough time Monday at Cherry Hills. Ranked among the top amateur in the country coming into the event, Williamson’s five-over 76 included five bogeys and a double bogey. He’s currently tied for 185th.

Williamson, the eighth-ranked amateur in the world, reached the second round of match play a year ago. He’ll have to come up big Tuesday to get that far again.

It was also a tough day for one of the younger players in the field, Keene High School senior Chelso Barrett, who shot a six-over 77 at Cherry Hills. Barrett was the runner-up last summer in the U.S. Junior Amateur. He didn’t qualify for match play in this year’s event in Stratham.

The round of the day belonged to Bobby Wyatt, a junior of the University of Alabama and the seventh ranked amateur, who shot a seven-under 64 at Cherry Hills. Wyatt had a stretch of five birdies on seven holes on the front nine.

James Pleat’s only two birdies on Monday came back-to-back, on his 16th and 17th holes of the day.