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Gover’s feel-good run ends; DeVito to play Hollander for State Am title

  • Passaconaway Country Club’s John DeVito watches a tee shot during Friday’s action at the 116th New Hampshire Amateur Championship at Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland. DeVito will take on Jake Hollander of The Shattuck Golf Club in Saturday’s 36-hole finale. Courtesy of NHGA

  • The Shattuck Golf Club’s Jake Hollander watches a tee shot during Friday’s action at the 116th New Hampshire Amateur Championship at Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland. Hollander will square off against John DeVito in Saturday’s 36-hole finale. Courtesy of NHGA

Monitor staff
Published: 7/12/2019 7:26:33 PM

GREENLAND – Mathew Gover had little in terms of expectations when the 116th New Hampshire Amateur Golf Championship began earlier this week.

But the 16-year-old out of Atkinson Country Club just kept finding ways to move on.

The high school sophomore provided plenty of dramatics during the week at Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland, using extra holes in each of his first four rounds of match play to reach the semifinals before finally running into opponent he couldn’t quite keep up with.

Gover’s spirited run came to an end Friday on the 17th hole as Passaconaway CC’s John DeVito took home a 2-and-1 victory to set up a 36-hole championship round on Saturday against Jake Hollander (Shattuck GC), who won a tight match of his own, 1-up, against Sam Barton (Kingswood GC).

“It’s been mind-blowing,” said Gover, who reached the semis after beating Eric Evans (Portsmouth CC) in 19 holes earlier in the day. “I didn’t know how far I was going to make it. I kind of wanted to see where my game took me and it took me with the best of the best.”

DeVito, a 29-year-old Nashua South graduate, will play in the State Am final for the first time after several strong attempts in past years. He and Hollander – another first time finalist – are slated to tee off for the title at 7:30 a.m.

“It’s great. Like I said earlier in the week, you just fight one match at a time. I got one more tomorrow to hopefully win it,” said DeVito, who has some familiarity with Hollander after beating him in the first round of match play during the 2017 State Am at Bretwood Golf Course. “I haven’t been this far before, but this is the end so you got to give it your best.”

Even with a potential State Am championship on his mind, DeVito was quick to heap praise on Gover, who quickly made a name for himself during the tournament.

“He’s a fighter. He bombs the ball and he can roll it like anybody,” DeVito said. “He made some putts to extend holes out there. He’s got a bright future.”

After battling back and forth, Gover and DeVito were all square through seven holes before DeVito rolled in a 25-foot par putt on No. 8 to reclaim the lead for good. He remained 1-up until gaining another hole on No. 14 where he birdied the 525-yard par 5 to provide himself with a bit more cushion down the stretch.

“Now that I look back at it, I was kind of down on myself at that point,” DeVito said on his thoughts before sinking the long-distance putt on No. 8. “It was a downhill curler. Just the right speed, the right line, right in the center and (Gover) ended up three-putting that.”

Gover, though, had his chances to get back to even. He lipped out a would-be birdie putt on No. 10 and nearly chipped one in on No. 16 that could have extended the match.

“My putter was on fire this morning. That’s what kind of helped me beat Eric (Evans), who played unbelievable,” Gover said. “But I missed a couple putts (in the afternoon) and DeVito just drained a couple of bombs on me and I’m just like, ‘Well, I can’t do much about that.’ ”

DeVito defeated Bald Peak CC’s Andrew Purse, 3-and-2, in his quarterfinal match.

The other semifinal match was tense from the first tee all the way up to the 18th green as neither Barton nor Hollander gained much separation.

Hollander, who grew up in Peterborough and is a senior at the University of Redlands in California, was 2-up walking toward the tee box on No. 17 after collecting wins on Nos. 8 and 11. But Barton, last year’s NHGA Junior champion, wasn’t going out quietly, keeping the match alive by draining a birdie putt from 30-35 feet. The two halved the final hole and Hollander walked off a winner.

“It was a real back-and-forth battle with Sam and he made that big putt on 17 that definitely gave me a little bit of a scare,” Hollander said. “The 18 holes were playing tough today so being able to have that cushion in the end really made the difference.”

Hollander reached the semifinals by knocking off Portsmouth CC’s Nick Kalil, 3-and-2, while Barton defeated Rochester CC’s Jamie Ferullo, 2-and-1, in his first match Friday.

Both Hollander and DeVito are expecting a competitive final.

“He’s a nice player. Playing with him two years ago was a good match. It feels like a while ago, but back then he was a much better player than I was,” Hollander said. “Hopefully now I can give him a little bit better of a run.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)

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