Martel grinds out State Amateur win
STRATHAM - Whatever Mike Martel had for lunch Saturday, it seemed to improve his golf game.
Chris Rivard had a 4-up lead on Martel at the midway point of Saturday's New Hampshire State Amateur championship match at the Golf Club of New England, but Martel battled back to win the tournament with a 2 and 1 victory.
Martel, 20, a member at Crotched Mountain Golf Club, won eight of the 17 holes played after lunch.
"I was a lot better in the afternoon," Martel said. "I didn't feel like I hit it that bad (in the morning), but nothing was going my way. When I was 4-down I knew it was nothing. It's a long day. I had previous champions tell me, 'Don't worry if you get down. There's a lot of golf left. Just keep grinding all day.' That's what I did."
The scheduled 36-hole final ended when Martel made a par on the par-3 17th hole, the 35th hole of the match.
It was the second trip to the State Am championship match for the 34-year-old Rivard, who lost to Concord Country Club's Bob Mielcarz in the 2000 final. Rivard is a Hudson resident and Candia Woods member who played as a pro for six years after playing college golf at Southern New Hampshire University.
"I don't really think I hit my irons particularly well in either round, I just got better breaks in the morning," Rivard said. "I also made some putts in the morning. In the afternoon I just couldn't get the pace on the greens - that was my biggest issue."
Rivard's 4-up lead evaporated after five holes in the afternoon. Martel won the 19th hole, and then won Nos. 22, 23 and 24 to pull even.
"He made some putts in the afternoon" Rivard said. "That was the difference. I think I lost three of the four holes he ended up winning to get back in the match. I think I let the lead go more than anything else."
Martel, who lives in New Ipswich, went 2-up with a par on the 28th hole, but Rivard evened the match by winning Nos. 30 and 31. Martel regained a 1-up lead by winning the 32nd hole, and didn't surrender his advantage after that.
Martel played high school golf at Mascenic Regional. This was the fourth time he has competed in the State Am and he had never won a match until this year.
The hole that may have caused Rivard to lose sleep last night was the par-5 15th, where each player made a double-bogey in the afternoon. Martel hit his tee shot into the woods, shanked his second shot and didn't have much of a third shot because his ball was nestled between two tree stumps.
"I couldn't swing hard at it (his third shot) because I would have either broken my club or my arm or something," Martel said. "It wouldn't have been pretty. When I got out of there with a halve that was huge.
Martel didn't reach the green until his fifth shot, but Rivard hit his approach shot into the rough behind the green. He failed to take advantage of Martel's struggles and exited the 15th green still 1-down.
"Mentally I had zero nerves today," Rivard said. "I just couldn't execute the shots. I just didn't hit it well enough in the afternoon - didn't putt it well enough in the afternoon - to make it happen."