The 116th annual N.H. Amateur Golf Championship at Portsmouth Country Club is just around the corner, with the first tee time set for Monday morning at 7:30, and 12 top area golfers can be found in this year’s field.
One of the biggest local names is Ryan Kohler, the Keene State alum playing out of Hooper Golf Course in Walpole. Kohler advanced farther than any area golfer in last year’s State-Am, making it to the round of 16 in match play before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual runner-up Pat Pelletier.
Kohler also finished in the top four at both the fall 2018 and spring 2019 Mid-Amateur Championships. His high finishes in both the Mid-Amateur and previous State Amateur championships earned him an excemption into the State-Am. Most of the field took part in one of six qualifiers to gain their spots in the tournament.
Kohler isn’t the only familiar name with a recent taste of success. Bob Kearney — a 63-year-old Houston, Texas, native who summers in Harrisville and plays out of The Shattuck Golf Club in Jaffrey — will also be taking part. He tied for third at a qualifier at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown June 5.
Kearney took home the amateur title at the N.H. Open at Bretwood Golf Course and Keene Country Club earlier this month. The UConn alum was ranked the No. 1 senior amateur in the nation in 2015, and qualified for back-to-back U.S. Senior Amateurs in 2015 and 2016.
Taylor Simpson, a former Franklin Pierce golfer who graduated in 2018, was medalist in the State-Am qualifying tournament June 12 at Bretwood, shooting a 1-under par 71. He plays out of Oaks Golf Links in Somersworth.
Five golfers playing out of Bretwood qualified that same day: Macky Seppala, Mike Davis, Hunter Drew, Nick Nadeau and Izzy Avilez. Also qualifying were Eric Karlson and James Kinnunen, who play out of Shattuck.
In the last of the six qualifiers, on Sunday at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, Peterborough native and Shattuck player Jake Hollander tied for first with Manchester Country Club’s Shane Glennon, shooting an even-par 72. Hollander was the runner-up to Kearney for the N.H. Open amateur title, and the only other amateur to make the cut for the third and final day.
Also qualifying at Beaver Meadow was fellow Shattuck golfer Cameron Salo, who tied for 10th at 3-over 75. In the first qualifier at Oaks Golf Links on May 28, Joel Armstrong, a 1997 Monadnock Regional High graduate who now plays out of Exeter Country Club, made the cut, tying for 11th at 11-over 82.
Bretwood veteran and longtime State-Am competitor Mike Blair is also exempt, but is not playing this year.