NH State Am Day 5: Concord CC’s Paradis, Carter CC’s Pelletier to square off in final

  • Pat Pelletier of Carter Country Club in Lebanon follows his tee shot during the fifth day of the NH Amateur Championship at Hanover CC on Thursday. NHGA / Courtesy

  • Matthew Paradis, a member of Concord Country Club, is back in the final round at the New Hampshire State Am. He was the runner-up in 2016 and 2017. NHGA / Courtesy

  • Sokul

Monitor staff
Published: 7/13/2018 12:03:59 AM

HANOVER – Matt Paradis has won more matches over the last five years than any other golfer at the New Hampshire Amateur Championship.

“I think it’s my competitive drive,” said the 22-year-old, who will compete in the 36-hole final for the third straight tournament. “Just being able to see what the other guy does on every hole and grinding over every shot … it just keeps me focused all day, dialed into the zone and I love this kind of play.”

With another stellar showing in match play on Day 5 of the State Am on the hilly course at Hanover Country Club, Paradis is one of the last golfers standing, again.

He breezed through Thursday morning’s quarterfinals with a 6-and-5 win over Fletcher Sokul and fought his way to a 2-and-1 semifinal victory over Tommy Ethier. On Friday, Paradis will take on Pat Pelletier for the $750 top prize beginning at 8 a.m.

“My goal this week was basically, and I hate to say it, but make it back to the finals again and give myself another chance,” Paradis said. “The ultimate goal is to win, but Pat’s a good players. ... I’m really looking forward to it. Just have to keep hitting how I’ve been hitting it all week and hope for the best.”

Before Paradis could focus on another final, he first had to focus on a friend in Concord native and Bishop Brady grad Sokul. Both play out of Concord Country Club and were excited to go head-to-head – even if Sokul didn’t play his best round.

“I was obviously super excited to be playing Matt this morning. I wanted to face him at some point,” said Sokul, whose quarterfinal finish was the best of his young career. “Matt played well. He did what he needed to do. He hit a lot of fairways and greens and I just didn’t have it going.

“If there was anybody I was going to lose to in this event, it was going to be Paradis,” Sokul said. “I think he’s the best player left and I want him to go out and win this thing.”

With three bogeys through the first six holes, Sokul found himself down in a hurry and it only got worse when Paradis birdied the 413-yard, par-4 seventh. Sokul inched closer with a par on No. 9, but lost the first three holes of the back nine to fall out of contention.

“In match play I missed a lot of greens with Matt, and instead of being like, ‘Okay, I need to get this up and down,’ It was more like, ‘Okay, I need to chip this close or chip this in.’ I don’t know if that was maybe the wrong mentality, but I think so highly of Matt’s game that he’s going to have a good look at birdie on pretty much every hole and maybe that kind of threw me off in spots.”

The momentum from the morning carried right through for Paradis as he kicked things off in the semifinals against Nashua Country Club’s Ethier with a 3-up advantage after the front nine. He birdied the par-3 fifth hole, but didn’t register another until the par-5 17th – the same hole where Ethier put his ball in the hazard for a bogey.

“It was unfortunate he made a mistake on 17,” Paradis said. “I played the hole pretty good, gave myself a good look at birdie and that’s all I could ask for there. … Tommy is a really good player. We had the Penmen Invitational here a few months ago for our home tournament and he was right behind me in second one shot back, so I knew he loved this course, I knew he could play good and we battled it out pretty good.”

In the other semifinal, Carter Country Club’s Pelletier – the medalist after stroke play – advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Souhegan Woods Golf Club’s Brandon Gillis. That came after Pelletier escaped the morning’s quarterfinals with a 1-up win over Windham Country Club’s Connor Greenleaf.

All square against Gillis after 10 holes, Pelletier picked up a birdie on the par-4 11th, saved par after an errant tee shot on 12, and grabbed another birdie on 13 to go 2-up.

“Once you get the lead, especially in the back nine with so many birdie chances, you don’t want to give holes away in match play,” Pelletier said. “Once I got past 13 with the birdie to get 2-up, you’re really just trying to give yourself as many looks as you can for birdie.”

As for his finals matchup against Paradis, Pelletier is expecting some friendly competition, and maybe a little ribbing.

“I played with (Paradis) a few weeks ago, he goes to Southern New Hampshire University and I’m good friends with the golf coach down there,” Pelletier said. “We’ve played a few rounds the last few weeks or so and we’ve kind of been jabbing at each other a little bit.”

Paradis is trying to win his first State Am title after finishing as the runner-up in 2016 and 2017.

“I’d love to make it three in a row,” Pelletier said, “but what are the odds of him losing three in a row?”

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

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