State Am: Get the coffee ready
STRATHAM — Bedford's Ryan Tombs said he needed a large cup of coffee to wake himself up for his 8:08 a.m. tee time Thursday at the New Hampshire State Am at Golf Club of New England.
He'll need another one Friday.
Tombs defeated Tom Hixon (Wentworth by the Sea Country Club) 3 and 2 in match play in the round of 32 in the morning and then knocked off Matthew Paradis of Derryfield Country Club 3 and 2 in the round of 16 in the afternoon. Tombs will tee off at 8 a.m. today against Chris Rivard of Candia Woods in the quarterfinal round at 8 a.m.
The semifinal round will also take place today (scheduled for 1 p.m.) and the 36-hole finals will begin Saturday at 8 a.m.
A two-hour thunderstorm/heavy rain delay between 4:45 and 6:45 resulted in half of Thursday's round-of-16 matches being continued until Friday at 7 a.m.
Thursday, Rivard beat Nick Fairweather of Windham, 2-up in another round-of-16 match. In the other two round-of-16 matches completed on Thursday, Craig Steckowych of Portsmouth CC defeated Mike Peters, also of Portsmouth, 4 and 3, and Michael Martel of Crotched Mountain beat Chris Houston of Laconia CC, 2 and 1.
The 18-year-old Tombs plays out of Manchester Country Club and will be attending Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., in the fall. Recent consistent play carried into the State Am, according to Tombs.
"I've been playing pretty well the last week or so and I felt pretty good about (my game). I've been hitting the ball solid and putting well," Tombs said. "To come play out here and play well, you have to hit the ball pretty straight off the tee and I've been hitting it well off the tee and that's why I've been successful."
Tombs scored an eagle on the second hole in his round-of-16 match with Paradis and played a bogey-free back nine to end the match on the 16th hole. Tombs said he had never played the course before and just wanted to show up and not over-think it.
"I didn't even play a practice round. I just showed up on Monday morning never playing the course. You just go out and hit shots," he said. "You're not sure where everything is so you just look at the pins and try and hit it there. Make those birdies and pars. I feel good for (today). Hopefully, I'll be able to get up early."
While it was a tough day for the course's groundskeepers, previous State Am winners had it rough as well. Five previous champions qualified for the tournament and all five made Thursday's round of 32. But that round ended with three of the five former champs ousted.
Manchester's Dan Arvanitis (Derryfield Country Club, 2001 champion) lost to Fairweather, 6 and 5. Three-time champion Phil Pleat (1981, 1985, 1997) of Nashua Country Club lost to Jake Nutter (Manchester country Club), 3 and 2. And 2011 champion Jim Cilley (Canterbury Woods Country Club) fell to Michael Mahan (The Oaks Golf Links), 3 and 2.
The two prior champions who survived were two-time winner Steckowych (1990, 1998 winner), and last year's champion, Joe Leavitt (Atkinson Resort and Country Club), who knocked off Sean Lacey (Intervale Country Club), 4 and 2.