REHOBOTH, MA (September 20, 2016) -- The New England Senior Amateur Championship is the last hoorah on the 2016 New England Calendar as it marks the final Championship Proper of the New England circuit, following both the New England Amateur and the New England Junior that both took place earlier this summer.
Despite the late entry on the calendar, this year’s New England Senior Amateur taking place in late September at Rehoboth’s Crestwood Country Club, there were several players whose efforts suggested they were still in mid-season form as they kicked off day one of the event at the 18-hole, par 71 course located only 10 minutes from Providence.
One of those on top of their game on Tuesday for the front end of the two-day tournament was New Hampshire’s Phil Pleat, who shot a field best 3-under par 68 in the first round of the 18-hole tournament.
“I played pretty solid,” said the Nashua (NH) Country Club member on his first round of play. “I hit it straight and hit a lot of good short irons in there and fortunately, I made a few putts. I am happy the way I played.”
Pleat, playing in his fifth New England Senior Amateur Championship, bounced back from a first-hole bogey by tallying two straight birdies en route to four total on the day.
On bouncing back from his only bogey, which occurred on the 417-yard, par-4 10th hole and the 1st hole after starting on the back nine, Pleat said, “That’s huge. I had a good second shot on Hole No. 11 to two feet and then I birdied the next, which was 12, so it got me going.”
After making the turn at 1-under, Pleat, the 2011 U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up, also added birdies on the par-3 third hole and the par-4 sixth hole to finish the first day of the tournament at 3-under 68.
Pleat, who finished as high as T3 in 2011 and T4 in 2014 in the New England Senior, battled wet fairways on an otherwise gorgeous day at the club.
“There is some mud on the ball (with the wet fairways), so you had to guess here and there,” said Pleat. “We played early this morning so the ball wasn’t really carrying and a lot of these greens are slightly uphill, so you have to think out there. It was great. Especially after all the rain they got.”
After finishing atop the leaderboard after the first day of competition, there is no question that those guesses paid off for Pleat, given the fact that he had never played the course before.
He will return for only his second look at the course on Wednesday, where he will be teeing off at 1:20 p.m.
Joining Pleat atop the leaderboard after the first day of scoring was Massachusetts’ native, Jack Kearney, of Elmcrest Country Club in East Longmeadow and the 2010 winner of the MGA Senior Amateur Championship.
He said, “I’ve not been playing very well of late and today, I made a bunch of putts.”
Those putts were the difference for Kearney, who tallied five birdies and 11 pars before carding his 3-under par 68 score to finished T1.
He said, “You make a couple putts early and get to build confidence, and you’re not trying to play catch up.”
He hopes today’s momentum will carry him well into tomorrow.
In addition to Pleat and Kearney, several other players in the Championship field finished under par to set up what will surely be a competitive Wednesday at Crestwood for the final day of the New England Senior.
Massachusetts native Don Foberg (CC of Halifax) erased a mid-round double bogey with five birdies to place third overall after the first 18-hole round with a mark of 2-under par 69.
Behind him were five players, all of whom finished at 1-under par 70 through the first half of the 56th annual tournament that dates back to its inception in 1961.
Paul Mitchell (MA), Dave Szewczul (CT), Bill Hermanson (CT), William Hadden (VT) and Paul Quigley (RI), all of who were tied for fourth place through the first 18 holes.
All tee times for Wednesday were moved back 30 minutes, with the first times now scheduled for 8:00 am on both tees No. 1 and No. 10 at Crestwood Country Club.
View results for New England Senior Amateur Golf Championship