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State Amateur golf: Gillis forced to work overtime; Eight area players advance

Nashua Country Club's Rob Zimmerman blasts an iron up the seventh fairway in the NH State Amateur on Wednesday.

GREENLAND – At some point on a match-play run at the New Hampshire State Amateur, the switch flips from battling the course or your opponent to battling yourself.

Brandon Gillis wasn’t expecting it Wednesday in the round of 64. The University of Rhode Island sophomore from Nashua barely survived it, going 19 holes to slay savvy Green Meadow Golf Club veteran Phil Smith in a tension-filled classic.

“One hundred percent! It’s all about confidence, and I had zero confidence after the first few holes,” said the second-seeded Gillis, who hopes to put all that behind him when he tangles with No. 34 Ryan Kohler in Thursday morning’s Round of 32 here at Portsmouth Country Club. “I beat myself up out there, but luckily I held on to get it done.”

Gillis was one of eight area survivors Wednesday. In all, a dozen local players bowed out.

What a match it was vs. Smith, who got up-and-down from the deep stuff on 18, snagging his par and forcing the extra hole.

Both players went to the rough off the tee in the first sudden death hole. Admittedly, Gillis was fortunate, his tee ball faded past a giant willow tree and into the clear, allowing him an open look to the green. His par there ended it.

“It was tight the whole way. He played a hell of a match,” said Gillis of Smith. “He’s a good player, a great match-play player. He gets it up and down a lot. And that can drive you crazy, if you’re not making a lot of birdies.”

Gillis had shot the round of the tourney with a 66 on Tuesday. Yesterday’s 74 was nowhere near as pretty, but it got the job done.

“A coach of mine used to say, you gotta be able to wake up after shooting 80 and want to play the next day,” laughed Gillis. “Sometimes it’s tough. But I’m excited for (Thursday).”

For the other highly-seeded locals, little came easy.

No. 5 John Devito, a former Nashua South standout, worked hard, finally putting away a game competitor, Green Meadow’s John Duarte on the 17th green, 2-and-1.

Devito knew early he was in for a battle with Duarte.

“I’m playing all right. I just kept plugging away,” said Devito, now 29. “It was a real good battle with John. I was down two through seven.”

Devito’s only birdie of the day, at the 11th, gave him his first lead, one he would not give up the rest of the way.”

Nashua Country Club’s Tommy Ethier, like Gillis a semifinalist in this event last year, was too pushed deep into the day. The No. 8 seed finally KO’d Atkinson’s Bill Moran, 2-and-1, again on the 17th green.

No. 10 Brian Nowak of Amherst Country Club had a bit easier time of things, knocking out Tim Braley, 4-and-3.

The region produced a giant killer or two on Wednesday as well.

Bryce Zimmerman, 16-years-old and seeded 45th led nearly the entire way, ending the week for No. 20 Derek Dinwoodie, 2-and-1.

“It’s going pretty well right now,” said Zimmerman, whose dad, Rob, did not fare so well and was eliminated Wednesday. “I made a lot of key putts. (Thursday) is going to be a fun match. I’m just going to give it all I’ve got.”

And No. 49 Tillman Evers of Green Meadow was a 1-up winner over No. 16 Garrett Olivar.

Nashua Country Club’s Phil Pleat defeated Atkinson’s Jack Pepin, 2-and-1, while Passaconaway’s Jared Lamothe edged Amherst Country Club’s Colin McCaigue, a senior at the Derryfield School from Brookline, 1-up.

Wednesday’s Results

Ryan Brown, Manchester CC def. Derek LeClair, Nashua CC, 7-and-5

Mike Flynn, Cocheco CC def. Jeff Monahan, Green Meadow, 6-and-5

Tillman Evers, Green Meadow def. Garrett Olivar, Canterbury Links, 1-up

Eric Evans, Portsmouth CC def. Keith Stone, The Overlook GC, 3-and-2

Tommy Ethier, Nashua CC def. Bill Moran, Atkinson CC, 2-and-1

Fletcher Sokul, Concord CC def. Richard Moreau, Sky Meadow CC, 5-and-4

Cam Salo, The Shattuck def. Russell Hamel, Nashua CC, 4-and-2

Bryce Zimmerman, Nashua CC def. Derek Dinwoodie, Farmington CC, 2-and-1

John Devito, Passaconaway def. John Duarte, Green Meadow, 2-and-1

Brandon Gillis, Green Meadow def. Phil Smith, Green Meadow, 19 holes

Nick Kalil, Portsmouth CC def. Austin Baker, Nashua CC, 1-up

Brian Nowak, Amherst CC def. Tim Braley, CC of NH, 4-and-3

Sam Barton, Kingswood CC def. Dylan Lortie, Amherst CC, 5-and-3

Jared Lamothe, Passaconaway def. Colin McCaigue, Amherst CC, 1-up

Jake Nutter, Intervale CC def. Rob Zimmerman, Nashua CC, 5-and-3

Phil Pleat, Nashua CC def. Jack Pepin, Atkinson CC, 2-and-1

Thursday morning matches

Round of 32

7:38: Tillman Evers vs. Eric Evans

7:46: Tommy Ethier vs. Fletcher Sokul

8:10: Bryce Zimmerman vs. Cam Salo

8:18: John Devito vs. Nick Hampioan

8:34: Brandon Gillis vs. Ryan Kohler

8:58: Brian Nowak vs. Austin Fox

9:06: Jared Lamothe vs. Sam Barton

9:30: Phil Pleat vs. Jamie Ferullo