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State Amateur Golf preview: Zimmerman among top young guns in field

Telegraph file photo Nashua North's Bryce Zimmerman is ready for the State Amateur Championship, which begins Monday at Portsmouth CC.

Like any good son, Nashua’s Bryce Zimmerman leaped on the opportunity to carry his dad Rob’s bag when the match-play portion of the 2018 New Hampshire State Amateur kicked in.

That, of course, was “Plan B.”

A year later, Bryce isn’t even considering the option.

“Hopefully, that won’t be the case again,” he chuckled.

Bryce Zimmerman, now 16 and headed into his junior season at Nashua North High School, will himself be making his third try at the State Amateur, which commences early Monday morning at Portsmouth Country Club.

A deep NHGA field takes over Portsmouth beginning with 7:30 a.m. tee times. The players will compete over 36 holes in two days of medal play before the match play portion kicks in.

The round of 64 is held on Wednesday, followed by the rounds of 32 and 16 on Thursday, the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday, July 12, with the championship to be decided on Saturday, July 13.

Zimmerman is a veteran of two State Ams. He made match play in his first try back in 2017 at Bretwood Golf Club.

And last year at Hanover CC?

“I wasn’t even close,” laughed Zimmerman. “Hanover just didn’t fit my eye. I felt good heading into it. I did as much homework (on the course) as I could. I just couldn’t get anything going. It wasn’t my week. I don’t think I was mentally there. A couple bad holes took me out of it.”

That, plus some solid early work by Rob, earned Bryce the title of “Caddie” a year ago.

A lot has happened since then, including Zimmerman picking up the Division I NHIAA state title and our Telegraph Golfer of the Year in the fall.

Most recently, Zimmerman has hit the road, rolling to a tourney win on the NHGA Junior tour stop at Amherst CC, firing a 5-under par round of 67.

He was a top 10 finisher in the New England High School Championships and battled in the National High School event at Disney in Florida.

“I haven’t practiced a lot, but I’ve played in a ton of tournaments,” said Zimmerman, who tees it up on Monday afternoon in the second to last pairing of the day at 2:09 p.m.

“I’ve tried to play as many as I can. The round at Amherst definitely put a lot of confidence in my game.”

Host of the New Hampshire Women’s State Amateur a year ago, Portsmouth is a dynamite track to play, until the wind kicks up off of Great Bay.

Zimmerman will be ready.

“I haven’t played Portsmouth since the (NHIAA) states my freshman year,” he said. “I’m not too worried about the course. I’m familiar with it. I’ll will also have a local kid caddying for me. So, we’ll know the golf course.”

That Portsmouth member is NHIAA Division III state champ Nick Grimbilas of Bishop Brady.

“We hung around a lot together at Nationals in Florida, and when I asked him if he’d caddie for me he was happy to do it.”

Zimmerman is just one of many young guns looking to make their mark at the State Amateur.

“It’s definitely a tough field with a lot of very good players,” Zimmerman said. “There are top college players (Nashua’s Brandon Gillis and Tommy Ethier to name a couple) and a lot of juniors playing in this. That’s really cool to see.”

Among those juniors are 14-year-old Noah LeClair and Russell Hamel, both good friends and playing partners of Zimmerman’s from Nashua.

Match-play clearly tops Zimmerman’s agenda.

“If I can make it at (age) 14, I can make it now,” he said. “As long as I keep my head up this week, I should be OK.”

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Both Bentley’s Ethier and URI’s Gillis could be major factors if things break right this week.

Each plowed deep into the week at Hanover CC last year, falling in the semifinals.

Ethier tees off Monday afternoon at 1:33, while Gillis tees it up at 2 p.m.

Another player to watch locally is former Nashua South star John DeVito, who plays out of Passaconaway in Litchfield.

DeVito hits the State Am fresh off a victory in the prestigious Lowell (Mass.) City Championships.

New Hampshire Amateur Golf Championship

Area Qualifiers

Amherst CC: Colin McCaigue, Dyan Lortie, Brian Nowak, Gunnar Senatore

Green Meadow GC: Tillman Evers, Jeff Monahan, Andy Page, Phil Smith, John Duarte, William Herrmann, Brandon Gillis, Matthew Hughes

Nashua CC: Noah Leclair, Austin Baker, Derek Leclair, Phil Pleat, Ryan Emerson, Tommy Ethier, Bryce Zimmerman, Rob Zimmerman, Russell Hamel

Passaconaway CC: Todd Fitzgerald, Eric Veiga, Jared Lamothe, John Devito, Cris Mansfield

Sky Meadow CC: Richard Moreau, Clifton Spinney , Larry Holt

Souhegan Woods GC: Richard Dichard, Eric Emeneau

The Overlook GC: Keith Stone, Ryan Friel