MacDonald, Killam Suffer Quick Elimination at N.H. Am
Newport Golf Club's Michael Killam, right, congratulates Derryfield's Matthew Paradis after losing to the recent Manchester Central High School graduate, 6 and 5, in a New Hampshire Amateur quarterfinal on Friday at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, N.H.
Valley News -- Greg Fennell
Newport Golf Club's Michael Killam considers his options after driving his ball into the trees beside Stonebridge Country Club's 13th green during a New Hampshire Amateur quarterfinal match with Derryfield's Matthew Paradis on Friday morning. Killam lost the hole and the match, 6 and 5.
Valley News -- Greg Fennell
Goffstown, n.h. — By reaching the quarterfinals of the New Hampshire Golf Association Amateur Championship, Hanover Country Club’s Nick MacDonald and Newport Golf Club’s Michael Killam at least accomplished one thing: They succeeded in occupying what otherwise might have been five days of work with the pursuit of a little white ball over Stonebridge Country Club’s rolling hills.
The fun and games ended quickly on Friday, however, with both competitors bounced from the New Hampshire Amateur quarterfinals before lunchtime.
Killam, a Texas native whose family has summered in the Lake Sunapee area for years, went first, victim of a 6-and-5 loss to Derryfield’s Matthew Paradis. MacDonald followed shortly thereafter, bowing to Bretwood’s Damon Dalo, 3 and 2.
Killam’s performance marked his deepest run ever into the weeklong match-play state championship. MacDonald returned to the form that he set aside, after reaching the 2011 finals at Nashua Country Club, in order to enter the working world. Neither had regrets for how their weeks at Stonebridge came to an end.
“Long story short, my game just wasn’t there like it has been the past couple of days,” Killam said. “Yesterday, I was spot on. I didn’t really miss much and I was definitely around the pin more, which took the pressure off. My putting hasn’t been good all week; it’s not like I made many putts. But when I put it close enough that it didn’t matter if my putting was good or bad, then it was OK.
“Today, something was different. It might have been the pressure, but my swing was not 100 percent like it has been. I would have had to play my best even to beat Paradis.”
Paradis entered match play with the second seed out of qualifying earlier in the week and played like it.
Killam won the opening hole, sinking a birdie on the par-5 first, but his 18-year-old opponent — a recent graduate of Manchester Central High School and a three-time NHIAA Division I individual runner-up — owned the rest of the match.
Paradis won six holes, four of them with birdies, for a 5-up lead at the turn. Killam got a hole back with a birdie on the par-5 10th, an uphill hike that the recent McNeese State University graduate conquered with a 6-foot birdie putt.
“At least I can look back at one hole,” Killam joked to his younger brother and caddie, Matt.
Paradis took the match with a par on 11 and another on 13. Killam overcooked his drive on the latter hole, a 208-yard par-3, into greenside trees and was unable to produce an up-and-down par to extend the match.
The 23rd-seeded Killam estimated that even if he’d eliminated his quarterfinal bogeys, he wouldn’t have done much better than a 2-up loss to Paradis.
“I gave a lot to him, but he also just played amazing,” added Killam, who will be moving to Oklahoma City next month to begin a job in medical sales. “He deserved every bit of it.”
Making his first N.H. Am appearance since a title-match loss to Jim Cilley in 2011, the 11th-seeded MacDonald and the third-seeded Salo kept things close to the vest until the former Mascenic High School standout pulled away on the back nine.
Down a hole early, MacDonald capitalized on a Salo double bogey on 6 and a following bogey on 7 for his only lead of the match. Salo, a left-hander who will be a senior on the Johnson & Wales (Fla.) University men’s golf team this fall, birdied No. 9 to level the contest, then took the lead for good with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13.
With opportunities running out, MacDonald took a chance and tried to cut the corner with his drive on No. 15, a par-4 dogleg left with nothing but trouble down the left side. The Lebanon High School graduate’s tee ball didn’t clear the hazard; Salo won the hole with a par for a 3-up lead and halved No. 16 to win the match.
“I’ve wanted to play; it just hasn’t worked,” said the 25-year-old MacDonald, the 2010 N.H. Am champ at Eastman who was able to get the week off from his job with a Canaan-based investment firm. “I’ve still been playing pretty well, even though I didn’t played (the Am) the last couple of years. I still try to play as much as I can.”
Today’s 36-hole championship will pit Salo against Atkinson’s Joe Leavitt, who will be looking for his second state am crown in three years.
Salo followed his elimination of MacDonald by dropping Paradis in the semis, 2 and 1. Leavitt, an 8-and-7 winner over former Kearsarge High golfer D.J. Lantz in the 2012 final at Concord Country Club, started his day with a 2-up quarterfinal decision over fellow Atkinson golfer Nicholas Pandelena and ended it by dropping 2011 champion Cilley, of Pembroke Pines (the former Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke), in a 5-and-4 semifinal.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.