NEWBURY, N.H. — He may live an hour away from the course, but Joe Leavitt knows this course well and he also knows what it would mean to capture the New England Amateur Championship on New Hampshire soil.
“This is the first time that I have ever played the New England Amateur when it has been in New Hampshire,” said Leavitt, who lives in Atkinson and attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence (MA). “This is my favorite course in New Hampshire. I have played really well when I have played here, so I knew coming in that if I could play I could do well.”
The home-town favorite has done everything right thus far and currently stands atop a talented leaderboard with a two-round score of 7-under par 137. He bettered his first-round score of 2-under par 70 with a 5-under under 67 on Wednesday to claim the top spot heading into the final 36 holes.
“I was confident coming in,” said Leavitt. “I have been driving it well and my putter is good so that has been keeping me alive.”
Leavitt took advantage of the two-par 5s on the back nine and made the turn at 2-under par 34. He was red hot on the front nine and made birdie on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 8th holes. His solid iron play left him with short birdie putts except for on the 369-yard, par 4 8th where he made a 40-foot birdie putt to cap off a round that included just one bogey.
“I was hitting it pretty close all day,” said Leavitt. “The other [birdies] were either tap ins or within 10 feet so it was exciting to make that putt. It’s good to be at the top. I feel good, and I feel good about tomorrow.”
The rising junior at the University of Rhode Island is enjoying his latest stretch of golf. After all, he is coming off a runner-up finish at last week’s New Hampshire State Amateur Championship.
“I am definitely a little drained, but I just love this game,” said Leavitt. “It’s all I do so I am definitely looking forward to it. I am in a great spot, and it exciting to be in this position.”
Brian Carlson fires tournament-best round to grab second place
It wasn’t the start he had envisioned, but Brian Carlson (Clinton CC – CT) is hoping for a fairy-tale finish.
One day after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for having too many clubs in his bag, Carlson fired a tournament-low score of 7-under par 65 on Wednesday to draw within two-strokes of the overall lead at the 2015 New England Amateur Championship. Carlson currently stands in second place with a two-round score of 5-under par 139 behind Joe Leavitt (Atkinson CC – NH).
“I was thinking ‘now I have 14 clubs so let’s just start it off correctly’,” said Carlson. “I birdied 10 and I doubled it yesterday with the penalty so I wanted to keep it going.”
He did that and much more. He finished his round of 7-under par with eight birdies, one eagle, a double bogey and a bogey.
“I was on fire on the back side,” said Carlson, who will be a sophomore at Purdue University in the fall. “Unfortunately I made a double on the par 3 with a bad shot. That was the first green that I had missed in the tournament, but I came right back and stuck it to five feet for eagle.”
Carlson made the turn at 3-under par and then went on a roller-coaster ride on the Baker Hill Golf Club back nine where he made birdie on four straight holes.
He first made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 423-yard, par 4 10th hole and then two putted for birdie on the par-5 11th hole. We would go on to make 6-foot and 20-foot birdie putts on the next two holes.
“It sets up well for my eye,” said Carlson. “I also love nature and the mountain views here.”
Carlson would suffer that double bogey on the 14th hole, but he responded with an eagle and a birdie. Even a bogey on his final hole of the day could not dampen his spirits on this day.
“Even though I bogeyed 18 I am hitting it good,” said Carlson. “I am not going to take any bad things away from my round today.”
Today’s round was an important exclamation point on Carlson’s summer and his recent return from a wrist injury that kept him out for two weeks.
“It was my left wrist so I was practicing putting because I could and I got really good at putting,” said Carlson. “It helped out my swing for the good, I think.”
With 36 holes down, 36 holes left and only 14 clubs in his bag… Carlson is hoping for a great finish here in Newbury.
View results for New England Amateur Golf Championship