James Kinnunen

File photo by Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff

James Kinnunen watches the flight of his shot on the 11th tee at Bretwood Golf Course last year. Kinnunen is one of three local players still alive in the N.H. State-Am, being played this week in Nashua.

NASHUA — The endurance test known as the N.H. Amateur golf championship is half complete … day-wise, that is.

But there is a whole lot of golf left to be played; five rounds of elimination play to be exact.

On Wednesday, at a steamy Nashua Country Club, the field for the 117th playing of the championship was whittled to 32 players.

Among those who will go back out Thursday are area players Ryan Kohler, Cameron Salo and James Kinnunen.

Two other area players were ousted: Bob Kearney of Bretwood, and Jake Hollander of The Shattuck. Hollander is the defending State-Am runner-up, but his bid to get back to the 36-hole final was derailed by Sam Natti of Maplewood CC, who scored a tight 1-up win Wednesday.

Kearney bowed out 2-and-1 against teen sensation William Huang, who plays out of the Golf Club of New England but will play his college golf at Stanford.

Salo, the No. 5 seed after strong sub-par rounds Monday and Tuesday, defeated Nick Fairweather of Windham CC, 6-and-5.

No. 8 seed Kohler posted a come-from-behind 2-and-1 over Colin McCaigue of Amherst CC. He was in a 2-down bind at the turn.

Kinnunen was down in his match with Phil Smith of Green Meadow but pulled out an impressive 2-and-1 victory.

Medalist James Pleat made quick work of fellow Nashua CC member DJ Petropulos, winning 6-and-5, in the first match out. Pleat was 13-under par to lead the field in medal play.

Defending champ John DeVito, Passaconaway Golf Course, had as tough a first-round draw as he could have wanted, but a run of four birdies to start his round propelled him to a 4-and-2 win over former professional Pat Pelletier of Carter CC in Lebanon.

In other matches of note, nine-time winner Bob Mielcarz showed that his match-play prowess is age-defying. The now-70-year-old marched on with a decisive 6-and-5 win over Dustin Moreault of Derryfield. Mielcarz built a big lead on the front nine and held on. Moreault had seven birdies and an eagle in his Tuesday stroke-play round; Mielcarz got into match play by finishing on the cut line.

Also, three-time champion Phil Pleat of Nashua CC advanced, rallying from 3-down to win 2-and-1 against Brian Nowak of Amherst CC. The elder Pleat, 64, joins his son in the round of 32.

Veteran past winners Craig Steckowych and Dan Arvanitis were among others that advanced Wednesday.

Thursday’s 16 matches will be followed by two rounds Friday and a 36-hole final Saturday.