NASHUA — The 177th N.H. Amateur golf championship has delivered at every turn, it seems, and Friday morning was no different.
In the Round of 8 at Nashua Country Club, three of the four matches went down to the very end. Surviving were home-course favorite James Pleat, who has been the hottest player in the field all week; Cameron Salo, the one-time Mascenic High standout; Harvin Groft, a 35-year-old Dover native fresh off a win in the Seacoast Amateur; and Cameron Sheedy, a 20-year-old who lives in Nashua but plays out of Windham CC and who has lurked quietly by comparison to more familiar names up until this point.
Two semifinal matches Friday afternoon will set the 36-hole match-play final Saturday.
Pleat plays Salo and Groft goes head to head with Sheedy.
Pleat is the No. 1 seed coming out of two days of stroke play earlier in the week.
Pleat dispatched good friend Ryan Kohler of Hooper Golf Course in Walpole, 1-up, in Friday’s first match out. The match was everything that might have been expected. Pleat led 4-up after nine and Kohler erased all that deficit in a four-hole stretch that started at the par five 11th hole, where he made birdie.
Pleat retook the lead with a birdie at the par four 16th, then, remarkably, matched Kohler’s birdie at 18 to seal the narrow win. Pleat shot a 5-under par 66; Kohler, bidding to make it to the semifinals for a third time, fired a 67.
Salo’s match against Ryan Brown of Manchester CC was no less dramatic, with Salo winning in extra holes. Neither player enjoyed more than a 1-up lead and Salo, who plays out of The Shattuck in Jaffrey, went 1-up with a par at 17. Brown answered with a birdie at the closing hole to level the match for a third time on the inward nine and force extra holes.
Salo then advanced by winning the 19th hole.
Only three players with ties to the Monadnock Region have won this event. Salo could become the fourth.
Groft was 3-up on William Huang on the front nine, but Huang made four straight 3s starting at 12 to rally back and grab a 1-up lead. Groft then answered with a big-time match-squaring birdie at 17 and won the match on 18.
Huang, the 18-year-old headed to play at Stanford who has raised eyebrows all week with his game, was the No. 2 seed.
Sheedy defeated Jack Brown of Nashua CC, 5-and-4, a day after beating veterans Bob Mielcarz and Phil Pleat, who have 12 combined titles in this event, back to back.
None of the eight players that began play Friday has won the State-Am.