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Cilley, Sokul secure high seeds heading into State Am match play

  • Geoff Martin, of Canterbury Woods Country Club, hits from the fairway on the second hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Martin bogeyed the hole.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Geoff Martin, of Canterbury Woods Country Club, hits from the fairway on the second hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Martin bogeyed the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Kurt Wuenschel, of Baker Hill Golf Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the 13th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Wuenschel double bogeyed the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Kurt Wuenschel, of Baker Hill Golf Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the 13th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Wuenschel double bogeyed the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Golfers, their caddies, and a tournament official search for a lost ball on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Golfers, their caddies, and a tournament official search for a lost ball on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Charles McNeeley, of the Country Club of New Hampshire, tees off at the 16th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. McNeeley bogeyed the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Charles McNeeley, of the Country Club of New Hampshire, tees off at the 16th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. McNeeley bogeyed the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Fletcher Sokul, of Concord Country Club, hits the ball from the rough on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul lost a ball on the hole and scored a triple bogey.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Fletcher Sokul, of Concord Country Club, hits the ball from the rough on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul lost a ball on the hole and scored a triple bogey.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Fletcher Sokul (left), of Concord Country Club, discusses a putt on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul scored a par on the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Fletcher Sokul (left), of Concord Country Club, discusses a putt on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul scored a par on the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Jack Benson, of Den Brae Golf Course, hits the ball from the rough on the 12th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Benson scored a par on the hole.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Jack Benson, of Den Brae Golf Course, hits the ball from the rough on the 12th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Benson scored a par on the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Ricky Bergevin, of Pembroke Pines Country Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Bergevin scored a par on the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

    Ricky Bergevin, of Pembroke Pines Country Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Bergevin scored a par on the hole.

    (TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

  • Geoff Martin, of Canterbury Woods Country Club, hits from the fairway on the second hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Martin bogeyed the hole.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Kurt Wuenschel, of Baker Hill Golf Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the 13th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Wuenschel double bogeyed the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Golfers, their caddies, and a tournament official search for a lost ball on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Charles McNeeley, of the Country Club of New Hampshire, tees off at the 16th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. McNeeley bogeyed the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Fletcher Sokul, of Concord Country Club, hits the ball from the rough on the 11th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul lost a ball on the hole and scored a triple bogey.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Fletcher Sokul (left), of Concord Country Club, discusses a putt on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Sokul scored a par on the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Jack Benson, of Den Brae Golf Course, hits the ball from the rough on the 12th hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Benson scored a par on the hole.<br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)
  • Ricky Bergevin, of Pembroke Pines Country Club, hits the ball out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the second day of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Bergevin scored a par on the hole. <br/><br/>(TAEHOON KIM / Monitor staff)

With the opening two rounds of stroke play wrapping up yesterday at the Golf Club of New England, the State Amateur Championship will move to match play format for the remainder of the tournament. It’s a familiar scenario for Jim Cilley, out of Canterbury Woods Country Club, who finished in the semifinals last year and won the State Am in 2011. Cilley is seeded 11th heading into today’s action after shooting a 149 over the first two rounds, while Concord Country Club’s Fletcher Sokul stands out as the other local near the top of the leaderboard, seeded ninth after hitting a two-day score of 149. Cilley and Sokul are two of eight local golfers who made the cut to progress to match play.

The Golf Club of New England in Stratham has made a major impact on the play this year, with only two golfers hitting under par through the opening rounds. In comparison to the courses from the last two years (Concord CC and Nashua CC), this year’s venue makes for a much lengthier proposition.

“The last two years had courses that were both quite a bit shorter, with more wedge play, and a little tighter,” Cilley said. “It’s so much more difficult here. If you don’t hit fairways, you’re in trouble. I was hitting good tee shots and still struggling.”

Portsmouth Country Club’s Joe Cooper (a Wayland, Mass., native playing in the State Am for the first time) and Nashua Country Club’s James Pleat (son of three-time winner Phil Pleat) are tied at the top of the leaderboard at 1-under 143 over the first two days, with a four-stroke gap between the two leaders and four other golfers who finished at 3-over. Last year’s winner, Joe Leavitt out of Atkinson Resort & Country Club, also advanced past stroke play with a 153 and is seeded at No. 19.

The other six locals to make the cut and progress to match play were Bob Landry from Loudon Country Club (155, seeded 31st), Will McLaughlin from Concord CC (157, No. 37 seed), Ian Landry from Loudon CC (157, No. 38), Concord native Kurt Eddins from Exeter CC (159, No. 49), Kurt Wuenschel from Baker Hill Golf Club (160, No. 52) and Adam Godbout from Concord CC (162, No. 63).

Now that the field has been narrowed down, the remaining golfers will gear up for match play, which offers a different wrinkle to the competition.

“You don’t play conservatively,” Cilley said, “but you play off your opponent. Your mentality doesn’t change too much, unless you’re down late. ... I think that a good approach is to take what you have in front of you. Get on the fairway, attack a pin if you can. If not, play to a good opportunity to make par. If (my opponent) is putting pressure on me, so be it.”

With the lack of scores under par so far this year, finishing even would likely bode well for most golfers.

“Especially on this course, par is a very good score. If you’re hitting par, you’re forcing your opponent not to make mistakes,” Cilley said.

On the other hand, no matchup is easy at this point in the tournament, especially in Stratham. Any golfer who has made it this far is looking to go all the way.

“I know at this tournament that anybody who made it to match play has an opportunity to win a match or multiple ones,” Cilley said.

Last year’s semifinalist is looking to match his 2011 triumph but knows the field is strong, young and deep. Sokul, who progressed to the round of 32 last year, is one of many younger golfers who is looking to make some noise.

“Fletcher is a pretty good player,” Cilley said. “He’s improved over the last few years and has a little experience now. He’s got a very good swing, hits it a long way and has the tools, so he could make a run at it. If it’s not gonna be me (winning the tournament), I’d love to see it.”

The emergence of strong, young golfers has been a trend for years now at the State Am and is continuing so far this year with youngsters like Sokul, Pleat and Cooper in the mix.

“The year I won, after the round of 32 I was the oldest guy left,” Cilley said. “You still have more seasoned guys like Craig Steckowych, Danny Arvanitis and John Esterbrook, but the younger 20-somethings and teens are playing a big factor.”

Other local golfers who did not make the cut include Ricky Bergevin from Pembroke Pines (163), Dan Doyle from Canterbury Woods (163), Alex von Svoboda from Baker Hill (164), Josh LaCasse from Pembroke Pines (166), Rich Reeves from Canterbury Woods (168), Geoff Martin from Canterbury Woods (169), Dan Schultz from Concord CC (169), Hopkinton native Colin Barnea from Rochester CC (171), Seth Cross from Canterbury Woods (172), Adham Darwish from Laconia CC (174), Jim Jankowski from Baker Hill (174), Chris Jacques from Beaver Meadow (174), Charles McNeeley from the Country Club of New Hampshire (174), Jack Benson from Den Brae (177), Dave Mattson from Concord CC (186) and Wayne Farmer from Den Brae (196).

Mattson made a hole in one on the 14th hole, a par-3 of 176 yards.

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