Leavitt wins NH Golf Association State Amateur
Joe Leavitt putts as his father, and caddie, Bob Leavitt tends the flag during the New Hampshire State Gold Association Amateur Championship finals on Saturday afternoon in Goffstown. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)
That'll happen to a golfer when he wins a few tournaments and then crushes a course record with a 60 - and flirts with a 59 - on the eve of a premier event.
"It feels good to win twice," Leavitt said afterwards on the deck at Stonebridge. "One was nice. I'm already looking forward to next year."
In fact, Leavitt became the first golfer in a dozen years to win a second title. Since Peter Harrity won the 2002 championship, 11 straight golfers had been first-time winners. Leavitt lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Mike Martel last year.
The tone was set early.
On the opening par 5 hole of the championship match - scheduled for 36 holes - Salo put his third shot close enough for a tap-in birdie.
Salo birdied hole No. 2. And so did Leavitt.
"I was 2-under for two holes and I was one down," Salo said. "I was like, 'All right, just keep going, keep plugging.' I kept plugging and he kept making birdies."
"I came out ready to go," Leavitt said. "I love the environment. I love the crowd. My putter got hot today. That was the key."
Leavitt and Salo - who are longtime friends - grabbed lunch together.
Salo had a great chance to get a hole back on No. 4 in the afternoon, when Leavitt went over the par 3 green. Leavitt had a bogey, but Salo bogeyed as well.
Leavitt was behind the green in a rough spot with no angle at the pin.
"One in 5,000 golfers gets par here," said Gregg Burke, Leavitt's coach at URI as he watched his golfer's predicament.
"I meant one in 5,000 regular golfers," Burke said in an amendment.
"Probably that was the biggest one momentum-wise," Leavitt said.
"That shows the kind of player Damon is," Leavitt said. "He doesn't back down. He's a warrior out there."
Each had a par on the par 3 13th hole.
Salo went out of bounds right on No. 14, a par 5, and had to play a provisional from a tough lie. Leavitt played down the middle and when he stuck his third shot several feet from the pin, Salo took his cap off, walked over to him and conceded the hole and the match.
That came on Sunday night at Atkinson Resort & Country Club, Leavitt's home course, and he left an eight-foot putt for a 59 an inch short on the 18th hole.
Thing is, Burke was sure Leavitt's 76 in the first round of the State Am on Monday prepared him better than the 60.
"Anything after that is a letdown."
The 76 on the other hand ... "I was texting with one of our other players and said that's the best thing in the world," Burke sad. "Now he's a caged animal."