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Pleat Wins Stroke Play
Author: Wayne Mills
August 6th 2015 - HUDSON, NH- There is now another Pleat to add to the list of New Hampshire Golf Association (NHGA) champions.
James Pleat won the 2015 NHGA Stroke Play Championship on Thursday by one shot over Joe Leavitt at the Green Meadow Golf Club’s Jungle Course with a 72 hole score of 278- 10 under par. The Stoke Play is James Pleats first win in an NHGA event as an adult, having previously won the NHGA Boy’s Junior Championship.

Young Pleat joins his father Phil as an NHGA champion although he has a ways to go to catch up to Phil’s 18 total NHGA championships. Phil is still competitive finishing in sixth place of this year’s Stroke Play with a score of 4-under par.

James Pleat was one behind first round leader Ryan Kohler after posting a 68. A second round 69 put him in the lead by one and a third round 69 on Thursday morning gave him a three shot lead heading into the final afternoon round.

In the final round Pleat made birdies at the third and sixth holes to get to 12 under par before giving one back at the par 4-seventh hole.

In the meanwhile the 2014 Stroke Play champion Leavitt was going off on his front nine.  After starting the round six shots behind Pleat, Leavitt made four birdies in his first seven holes before bogeying the par 3-eighth. A spectacular eagle at the par 5-ninth had Leavitt out in five-under 31.

Pleat knew Leavitt was gaining on him. “I saw he was shooting up the leaderboard,” he said.

Leavitt made three more birdies against no bogeys in the first six holes of his back nine to overtake Pleat’s lead by one getting to eight under for the round and 12 under for the championship.  Pleat played steady making seven straight pars on the back nine before taking a bogey on the par 4- 17th hole to give Leavitt a two shot lead.

Playing two groups ahead of Pleat, Leavitt stood on the tee of the downwind par 5-18th, certainly reachable in two for the long hitting senior-to-be at the University of Rhode Island. Then disaster struck.

Leavitt pushed his tee shot into the pine trees on the right side of the fairway and ended up behind a root. Trying to advance the ball, Leavitt took a mighty swing and only made contact with the root. He tried again- and same result, finally taking an unplayable and a one stroke penalty. By the time he holed out for a triple-bogey eight the lead was gone and he was one behind.

“In hindsight I would have taken the unplayable the first time and try to make bogey at worst,” said Leavitt.  “Kind of a silly mistake on my part.”

Pleat who could see Leavitt’s problems from the 17th said “Once I saw that I knew what I needed to do.”

What he needed was a par on the 18th which he managed with a tap in putt for the one stroke victory.

The 2014 Dartmouth College grad who grew up playing across the Merrimack River at Nashua Country Club said of his first big boy win “It feels awesome.” 

Complete results can be found here. 

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