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Opponent's honesty helps lift Nashua golfer into Junior final

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 24. 2014 7:57PM

Alex von Svoboda of Baker Hill hits out of a bunker during Tuesday's 2014 Junior Championship in Salem. He called himself on an infraction in his semifinal match that cost him a stroke and helped cost him the match. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

SALEM — James McKee of Windham rolled into Wednesday morning’s New Hampshire Golf Association’s Junior Championship match with a couple of dominating wins on Tuesday at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands Golf Course.

Brandon Gillis of Nashua held off Newbury’s Alex von Svoboda — helped in part by von Svoboda’s honesty — to earn his spot opposite McKee in the final of the championship flight.

McKee and Gills, a pair of 15-year-olds who just completed their freshman years of high school — Gillis at Nashua North and McKee at Windham — will battle to become the new NHGA junior champ in today’s 18-hole final. They tee off at 7 a.m.

“Three days in a row getting up at 5,” Gillis said.

He’s not complaining, mind you.

“I’m definitely excited,” Gillis said. “Especially considering the way I played last year in match play. Match play hasn’t been my strong point.”

Last year, he lost in the first round of the championship flight.

He was the tournament medalist on Monday by three strokes with a 3-under par round of 68 in the morning and won his afternoon match, 1-up.

Tuesday morning, he beat Doug Champagne of Bow, 7 and 6, and moved on to the semifinals against von Svoboda.

The two were all locked up — even after von Svoboda rallied to win holes No. 16 and 17.

Each was on the green on No. 18, a par 5, in three shots.

Gillis, who plays out of Souhegan Woods in Amherst, had about a 15-fott putt and von Svoboda’s was a little bit longer. Von Svoboda lined up his putt and then approached his ball.

He stepped back and called over the NHGA official who was monitoring the match and informed him that after he addressed the ball, it had moved.

He was assessed an automatic one-stroke penalty.

Von Svoboda missed his putt and Gillis had only to two-putt to win the hole and the match. He came close with his first putt and tapped in to move on to the final.

“I definitely didn’t want it to go down that way,” Gillis said. “It was really a bummer that the ball moved.”

Von Svoboda said he didn’t touch the ball and he never hesitated in calling the official over.

“It probably moved a dimple of the ball,” he said. “I had to call myself on it. Maybe it was the wind. It’s tough, especially in my last tournament as a junior.”

Von Svoboda, who just graduated from Bishop Brady High School in Concord, plays out of Baker Hill Golf Club in Newbury. He’s headed to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., and hopes to play on the golf team there.

Two of the top three qualifiers go at it in the final.

Gillis had his 68 and McKee tied for runner-up honors with Tom Hixon of Wentworth By the Sea with an even-par 71.

Hixon lost in the first round of match play on Monday.

McKee closed out his first match with four holes to play, his quarterfinal on Tuesday morning against Keeton Foster of Pine Grove Country Club in Spofford with three to play and his semifinal with Lukas Lynmayr of Wentworth by the Sea with six holes left.

McKee started slowly in his morning match, quickly in the afternoon.

He had a birdie and eagle on the first two holes against Lynmayr.

On the par-5 second hole, he hit a nice drive and was about 185 yards out.

“The hole was playing downhill all day and the previous round I was at about the same spot and hit a 7-iron and came up short,” McKee said.

“I figured if I hit the 7-iron a little better, I’d be right on it.”

He hit it better, was right on it and made a 2-foot putt for eagle.

- - - - - - - -

Champions were determined in six flights on Tuesday. In the first flight, Patrick McGinley of Manchester Country Club beat Alec Brunelle of Atkinson Resort & Country Club, 4 and 3; in the second flight Sam Zimmerman of Wentworth by the Sea topped Jack Grubbs of Windham Country Club, 3 and 2; in the third, Colin Stroshine of Bretwood Golf Club in Keene beat Ryan Agemian of Atkinson, 5 and 4; in the fourth, Tommy Ethier of Nashua Country Club beat Jacob Wolford of Atkinson, 5 and 4; in the fifth, Mitchell Zehr of Hooper Golf Club in Walpole beat Jack Shields of Sky Meadow, 2-up; and in the sixth, David Boardman of Campbell’s Scottish Highlands beat Christian Sullivan of Green Meadow Golf Club, 3 and 2.

Championship Flight


Brandon Gillis, Souhegan Woods, d. Doug Champagne, Concord CC, 7 and 6; Alex von Svoboda, Baker Hill, d. Ryan McGuirk, 1-up; James McKee, Windham CC, d. Keeton Foster, Pine Grove Springs, 4 and 3; Lukas Linemayr, Wentworth By the Sea, d. Macky Seppala, Bretwood, 3 and 2.


Gillis d. von Svoboda, 1-up; McKee d. Linemayr, 7 and 6


Gillis vs. McKee, Wednesday, 7 a.m. .

- - - - - - -

First flight


Alec Brunelle, Atkinson Resort & CC, d. Hayden Berry, Laconia, CC, 6 and 4; Patrick McGinley, Manchester CC, d. Ryan Brown, Manchester CC, 3 and 2.


McGinley d. Brunelle, 3 and 2.

- - - - - - - - - -

Second flight


Sam Zimmerman, WBTS, d. Marshall Halpin, Hoodkroft CC, 1-up; Jack Grubbs, Windham CC, d. Austin Baker, Nashua CC, 6 and 5.


Zimmerman d. Grubbs, 3 and 2.

- - - - - - -

Third flight


Colin Stroshine, Bretwood GC, d. Benjamin Burdett, Bretwood in 19 holes; Ryan Ajemian, Atkinson Resort & CC, d. Michael Jensen, Souhegan Woods, 5 and 4.


Stroshine d. Ajemian, 5 and 4.

- - - - - -

Fourth flight


Jacob Wolford, Atkinson Resort & CC, d. AJ Potvin, Stonebridge CC, 4 and 3; Tommy Ethier, Nashua CC, d. Tim Weeks, Manchester CC, 2 and 1.


Ethier d. Wolford 5 and 4

- - - - - - - -

Fifth flight


Jack Shields, Sky Meadow CC, d. Nate Ralston, Hoodkroft, 3 and 2; Mitchell Zehr, Hooper GC, d. Chris Lehmann, Hanover CC, by default.


Zehr d. Shields, 2-up

- - - - - - - - - -

Sixth flight


David Boardman, Campbell’s Scottish Highlands, d. Ryan Quinlan, Campbell’s Scottish Highlands, by default; Christian Sullivan, Green Meadow GC, d. Nicholas Nardone, Windham CC, 4 and 2.


Boardman d. Sullivan, 3 and 2.

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