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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nashua’s Phil Pleat adds to legacy with 4th straight NHGA Senior Championship

Local Golf Journal

Like a fine wine, Nashua’s Phil Pleat just keeps getting better as he ages.

The 58-year-old Nashua Country Club member had another great week on the New Hampshire Golf Association circuit, recording his fourth straight Senior Championship title and his record 18th NHGA championship overall. ...

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Like a fine wine, Nashua’s Phil Pleat just keeps getting better as he ages.

The 58-year-old Nashua Country Club member had another great week on the New Hampshire Golf Association circuit, recording his fourth straight Senior Championship title and his record 18th NHGA championship overall.

“I’ve just been very fortunate over the years,” said Pleat, whose next stop is the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., for the U.S. Senior Amateur starting on Sept. 13. “I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to be a part of the New Hampshire golf scene and have played with and against so many skilled golfers. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to pull out a few wins I probably shouldn’t have. Honestly, it’s just fun for me to even be competing in these things.

“I’m happy with how everything has turned out, but none of that would have ever happened if I didn’t have such a supportive wife. I’m most fortunate to have a really understanding and supportive wife. Lisa allows me the time to get in practice rounds and play in these events. She’s my biggest supporter and probably my harshest critic aside from myself. She’s great about it all.”

That support goes as far back as 1981, when Pleat won his first of 18 NHGA titles in the State Am at Laconia Country Club. Those title include eight Mid-Ams (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2012), three State Ams (1981, 1985, 1997), three Stroke Play (2002, 2003, 2005) and four Senior titles (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).

That last Senior Championship title was locked up Wednesday at Kingswood Golf Club in Wolfeboro, when he held off Derryfield Country Club’s Dan Arvanitis by one shot.

Arvanitis, who was a couple groups ahead of Pleat on the second and final day of the 36-hole event, did all he could to chase down Pleat in hopes of recording his first Senior title. But even shooting the low round of the day – a 3-under par 69 – wasn’t enough for Arvanitis to overcome Pleat’s two-day run of stellar play on the links, where he finished in a four-way tie for first place with an even-par 72 on Tuesday and then closed things out with a 2-under 70 Wednesday for a two-round total of 2-under 142.

After recording an eagle on the par-5 10th hole, Arvanitis actually grabbed the lead briefly on Day 2. However, bogeys on the 13th and 14th returned the advantage to Pleat. Arvanitis then birdied 15 and 17 to get back in the hunt only to close with a bogey on 18 and allow Pleat to lock up the win with a par on that final hole.

“If he hadn’t bogeyed the 18th, we would have been headed to a playoff,” Pleat said. “I’ve had to go to a playoff the last two years – last year I had a four-hole playoff with Bill Everett at Kingswood and the year before it was a one-hole playoff with Bob Mielcarz at Country Club of New Hampshire (in North Sutton) – so it was nice not to need that.”

As for the rest of the Day One leaders, Bretwood Golf Course’s Mike Blair finished third with an even-par 144 (72-27); Owl’s Nest’s Bill Everett finished tied for eighth with a 5-over 149 (72-77); and Farmington Country Club Richard Peek finished 10th at 7-over 151 (72-79).

Pleat leaves for California on Tuesday, Sept. 9. He’s using his final exemption from his runner-up finish at the 2011 U.S. Senior Am at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va. If he misses the cut for match play he’ll be returning home to play in the New England Senior Amateur at Laconia Country Club on Sept. 16-17.

Yes, that’s the same location Pleat’s 18-
title string began 33 years ago.

Nashua Cities just around the corner

Tournament Ryan Brogan is excited about another big field of competitors in this year’s Nashua Cities.

The golf tournament is scheduled for Sept. 6-7, with first round action teeing off at 6:56 a.m. on Green Meadow’s Jungle Course that Saturday and the second round starting at noon Sunday at Nashua Country Club.

The 60-player field will feature local players who have single digit handicaps, including four of the last six champions – Green Meadow’s Josh Kibbe (2013), The Overlook’s Ryan Friel (2011), Nashua Country Club’s Brogan (2010) and NCC’s James Pleat (2008). Also in the field is 1999 champion Larry Nuttall, of Green Meadow.

“Not only have we been forced to put people on a waiting list the last couple of years,” Brogan said, “but the quality of play is increasing each summer. Over the last three years, the winning score has been 3- to 4-under par.”

To qualify for the tournament, players must meet one of two requirements. They must either have a GHIN Index of 9.0 or less at either Green Meadow, Whip-Poor-Will, Souhegan Woods, The Overlook, Nashua Country Club, Sky Meadow Country Club, Passaconaway Country Club, Hidden Creek or Amherst Country Club; or be a resident of either Amherst, Nashua, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Merrimack or Milford with a GHIN Index of 9.0 or less.

The Local Golf Journal is a regular feature in The Telegraph. To discuss a potential journal topic or to report charity tournaments and aces, contact George Scione at 594-6520 or gscione@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter (@Telegraph_BigG).