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Nashua’s Brandon Gillis heats up at State Am Golf tournament

Telegraph photo by HETOR LONGO Brian Nowak, left, salutes his Amherst Country Club mate and playing partner Gunnar Senatore after the 17-year-old drained a clutch putt on their final hole on Tuesday.

GREENLAND – Unleashing Brandon Gillis early on a calm, near-perfect morning here at Portsmouth Country Club simply was not fair.

To the golf course.

Gillis, the University of Rhode Island standout and ex-Nashua North Titan, carved up the track with the low round in medal play, a 6-under par 66, to cruise into a top spot on the match play tree at the 116th New Hampshire Amateur Championship.

Following up a lackluster opening day 77, Gillis is the No. 2 seed behind Manchester Country Club’s Ryan Brown (72-69 -141) as the field of 154 was trimmed to 64 heading into the match-play Wednesday morning.

A semifinalist a year ago in this event, Gillis brought the “A” game Tuesday, leaving little doubt that he again should be a factor through the rest of the week.

“The putter got going for me today,” Gillis told the NHGA media afterward. “I didn’t feel like I had to work too hard today because I was hitting it

pretty close. But I just have to keep it in the fairway and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

In all, it was a rock-solid two days for the area contingent as 19 local players moved on to match play.

Round one leader John Devito of Passaconaway followed up his opening 70 with a solid 74 on Tuesday, closing in a three-way tie for the fifth spot.

Devito is playing well, fresh off his win in the Lowell (Mass.) City Championships.

Nashua Country Club’s Tommy Ethier feasted in the Tuesday morning tranquility, carding a second-day 70, to carve out a spot in a four-way tie for eighth at 146. He was knotted with Amherst CC’s Brian Nowak, who carded a pair of 73s.

Interestingly enough, there were 64 players at +12 or better, leaving no need for a playoff for the final spots.

Nashua Country Club’s Phil Pleat was amid a three-way tie for 22nd at 149. NCC’s Austin Baker was next in a four-man pack at 150.

Passaconaway’s Jared Lamothe and Green Meadow’s Jeff Monahan each scored 75-76 — 151, while Amherst Country Club’s Colin McCaigue scored 77-75 – 152.

Sky Meadow’s Richard Moreau carded a 75-78 – 153, while Nashua CC’s Bryce Zimmerman, The Overlook’s Keith Stone and Green Meadow’s Tillman Evers checked in at 154.

Nashua North’s Zimmerman said he went from the “struggle bus” mid-round on Monday to a better place on Tuesday.

“I played a smidge better,” said the 16-year-old, who made match play in this event two years ago but was denied in 2018 at Hanover CC. “I’m just excited to be back in match-play again.”

Nashua CC’s Russell Hamel hung tough for two straight days, making it 77-78 – 155, and just clicking at the final number to survive, 156, were five area players: Rob Zimmerman and Derek LeClair of Nashua CC, Dylan Lortie of Amherst CC, along with Phil Smith and John Duarte, both of GreenMeadow.

Among the unfortunate area types, just missing the number was 17-year old Gunnar Senatore of Amherst Country Club.

Here are the Round of 64 matchups on Wednesday for the area players:

7:30 – Ryan Brown, Manchester CC vs. Derek LeClair, Nashua CC

7:38 – Jeff Monahan, Green Meadow vs. Mike Flynn, Cocheco CC

7:46 – Garrett Olivar, Canterbury Woods vs. Tillman Evers, Green Meadow

7:54 – Eric Evans, Portsmouth vs. Keith Stone, The Overlook GC

8:02 – Tommy Ethier, Nashua CC vs. Bill Moran, Atkinson CC

8:10 – Fletcher Sokul, Concord CC vs. Richard Moreau, Sky Meadow CC

8:50 – Cam Salo, The Shattuck vs. Russell Hamel, Nashua CC

8:58 – Derek Dinwoodie, Farmington CC vs. Bryce Zimmerman, Nashua CC

9:06 – John Devito, Passaconaway vs. John Duarte, Green Meadow

9:38 – Brandon Gillis, Green Meadow vs. Phil Smith, Green Meadow

10:18 – Austin Baker, Nashua CC vs. Nick Kalil, Portsmouth CC

10:26 – Brian Nowak, Amherst CC vs. Tim Braley, CC of NH

10:42 – Sam Barton, Kingswood CC vs. Dylan Lortie, Amherst CC

10:50 – Jared Lamothe, Passaconaway vs. Colin McCaigue, Amherst CC

11:14 – Jake Nutter, Intervale CC vs. Rob Zimmerman, Nashua CC

11:38 – Phil Pleat, Nashua CC vs. Jack Pepin, Nashua CC.