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Nashua’s Devito leads State Am Golf

Telegraph photo by HECTOR LONGO Nashua South standout John Devito watches his drive on the first hole Monday in the State Amateur Golf Tournament at Portsmouth Country Club. Devito shot a 2-under for the day, leading the field.

GREENLAND – The tide comes in, the wind kicks up and scores tend to rise.

Somebody forgot to hand Nashua’s John Devito the rather ominous script for this week’s 116th New Hampshire State Amateur Championship at Portsmouth Country Club.

Playing out of Passaconaway, Devito carded a sparkling 2-under par round of 70 on Monday and leads the State Amateur field into Round 2 on

Tuesday.

Following today’s action, the field will be chopped to 64 and the match-play begins on Wednesday, with the title being decided on Saturday.

Portsmouth played tough. The greens were hardened and fast.

“You have to play it at least a club or two shorter on a lot of the holes because of the firmness,” Devito told the NHGA.

“I was kind of hitting it all over the place with my driver, but this is the kind of place to do that.

Devito was one of only two players among the 154 finishers to break par on Monday. The other was Ryan Quinn of Breakfast Hill at 71.

Nashua Country Club was well-represented in the six-way tie for third at even-par 72.

Derek LeClair and Phil Pleat enjoyed fine days, each getting out in the morning before things start to blow a little bit harder in the afternoon, to remain level par and sit well-positioned.

The only area man among the eight-player clump tied for ninth place at 73 was Amherst Country Club’s Brian Nowak.

The 47-year-old father of two, whose best finish in this event was a trip to the Round of 16 three years ago, was quite pleased.

“I had a good day. I’m a 47-year-old working guy with two very active boys, who I’m active with. I try to sneak some golf in here or there, so I’m pretty happy,” said the Amherst resident.

“Under 80 (Tuesday), I should be OK.”

Handling the conditions was the chore for the day.

While pristine, Portsmouth was Portsmouth.

“The course is playing long. The tees are back on just about every hole,” said Nowak. “There was a premium on being in the fairway. Coming out of the rough, it’s almost impossible to hold these greens.

“But the greens rolled true. I play out here a lot. The wind is always blowing. This was fairly tame for Portsmouth. But it was firm and fast out there.”

Position and finding the way into the 64-man match-play tree is the Tuesday priority.

Other area players in good shape through the opening round include: Nashua Country Club’s Austin Baker (74), Passaconaway’s Jared Lamothe (75), Sky Meadow’s Richard Moreau (75), Green Meadow’s Jeff Monahan (75), Nashua CC’s Tommy Ethier (76), Green Meadow’s Brandon Gillis (77), Amherst CC’s Colin McCaigue (77), Nashua CC’s Russell Hamel (77), Nashua CC’s Bryce Zimmerman (78), Amherst CC’s Dylan Lortie (78), Green Meadow’s Tillman Evers (78), Overlook’s Keith Stone (79), Nashua CC’s Rob Zimmerman (79) and Noah LeClair (79).