James Pleat is trying to do what his well-known golfing father has done three times: win a N.H. Amateur championship.
Now, the 29-year-old Dartmouth grad is one win from pulling that off.
Of course, it is one, anything-but-routine 36-hole win.
For all the great golf Pleat has played at his home course this week, in the 117th edition of the State-Am, including winning medalist honors and the No. 1 seed, he has one major test still ahead.
Pleat, the host-course favorite who has been a virtual birdie-making machine, will meet 20-year-old Cameron Sheedy in Saturday’s full-day final.
Pleat reached his first final by beating Cam Salo of The Shattuck, 4-and-3, Friday afternoon. It followed a 1-up win over Ryan Kohler of Hooper in Walpole, in a tense, dramatic quarterfinal match between two great friends.
To advance, Pleat, 1-up, matched Kohler’s birdie at 18.
Sheedy, too, has had himself some kind of week. He plays out of Windham CC. Sheedy defeated William Huang in the morning Friday then eliminated Harvin Groft 3-and-2. A case can be made that that double-header win is as impressive as any by any player in the field in match play this week.
Pleat took charge against Salo with birdies at the second and third holes, led 3-up at the turn and never trailed on the way in. When Salo got one back early on the back, Pleat put the pedal down again, making birdie at 12 and 13 and then closing the match out by matching pars with Salo at the next two holes.
Sheedy’s birdie at nine against Groft put him ahead to stay. He made three other birdies from there, including one to match Groft at 16 that ended the match.
The State-Am is being played at Nashua CC for the 14th time in the event’s 117-year history. Pleat’s father, Phil, won one of his titles here, and now the son can write some history of his own.
Only five times in the event’s history has a player won the State-Am on his home course. Paul Kennett of Keene, in 1968, was the first to do it. It did not happen again until 1993, when Bob Mielcarz won at Concord CC.
Sheedy will have something to say about Pleat’s title run. Amid all the great matches and play over the past five days, Sheedy flew under the radar for a while. He tied with 29th in medal play after pedestrian rounds of 75 and 71 (4-over par).
But he has shown his mettle in match play, beating Mielcarz and Phil Pleat, two players with 12 State-Am titles between them, on Thursday, and then Huang and Groft Friday.
The State-Am has done again what it often does: serve up an exciting and anticipated championship match.