New Hampshire Am: Stevens def Friel, 2 & 1

TILTON, New Hampshire (July 12, 2008) -- Mark Stevens, a Junior at the University of Rhode Island from Concord, and runner-up in this event last two years, defeated Ryan Friel of Brookline, Mass today to win the New Hampshire State Amateur Championship.

It was the sixth successive State Amateur in which a new winner has been crowned.

After winning two matches on Friday, Stevens seemed determined to make his third trip to the finals the charm.

"I didn't play that bad the last two years. I just ran into buzzsaws," Stevens said on Friday. "I have no fear. I'm out there to win. If it's meant to be ... great. If not ... make it to the final next year and give it another shot."

In the final match, Stevens never trailed. After halving the first three holes, Stevens took a one up advantage with a birdie at the 375-yard par 4 fourth, but lost that lead two holes later to a Friel birdie at No. 6. Evidently backing up his Friday words, Stevens bounced back with an eagle on the par 5 seventh, then ran his lead to 3-up after Friel made bogey on Nos. 8 and 9.

Friel fought the match back to even after 15, but lost the final three of the morning round to an birdie-par-eagle run by Stevens.

After lunch, the players tied their 19th hole, then Friel made on the 20th to get to 2-down. The match was tense for the next eight holes, all being halved with pars. Friel got to 1-down with a birdie on their 29th hole, but gave it back two holes later when he made bogey on the 418-yard 13th.

After four more halved pars, Stevens closed out the match, 2 & 1.

The 21-year-old will head back to the University of Rhode Island's fall schedule with some new found confidence. Perhaps next year he will come back and defend and end the six year streak of new winners...

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