By Dalton Balthaser
CRANSTON, R.I. – By the time Jared Nelson teed off for the final round of the 93rd New England Amateur, the Day Two co-leader wasn’t in the lead.
Christian Emmerich, who teed off at 8:10 a.m., more than three hours before Nelson, lit Alpine Country Club (par 72, 6,763 yards) on fire with a final round of 62. His 62 set the course record which was previously 66.
“I showed up 20 minutes before my tee time,” said Emmerich, 21, of Swampscott, Mass., and a rising senior at the College of Holy Cross. “I was just going to go out there and see what happened. I figured if I would shoot 5 under today, I would go home happy. Once I got to 9 under through 12, I was thinking about making more birdies. I finally figured out how to play the course today. It means a lot to get the course record.”
But as Nelson did all week, he remained calm and focused on what he could control.
“I had someone come up to me on the putting green telling me what Christian was doing,” said Nelson. “I looked and saw he was in the lead, and I couldn’t believe it. I went out there with an aggressive mindset. I wanted to push the envelope. Players were going low. I needed to keep up.”
Nelson, aided by par 5 dominance, is the 93rd New England Amateur champion. His final round of 70 was good enough for a one-shot victory over Emmerich, Bryson Richards and Joe Harney.
“When you are able to win it is always fun,” said Nelson, a rising fifth-year senior at the University of Connecticut. “It has been a good summer for me, and this is a great way to keep the momentum going.”
Nelson, the reigning Vermont Amateur champion, got off to a nice start with birdies on Nos. 4 (par 5, 520 yards) and 8 (par 5, 555 yards).
On both occasions he reached the green in two. He hit a crisp 5-iron from 210 yards to 35 feet on No. 4 and a 3-iron laser from 240 yards to 25 feet on No. 8.
But for Nelson, the shot of the tournament came on No. 10 (par 5, 510 yards). After he blitzed a drive and hit an 8-iron from 180 yards to 20 feet, he dripped the putt in the hole at perfect speed to get to 10 under.
“I had a feeling that was a huge putt,” said Nelson, 22, of Rutland, Vt. “Making that putt gives you so much more leeway coming in with a lot of guys chasing you. It was a good one to make.”
It turned out it was vital. Two bogeys on the next seven holes left him with a one-shot lead heading down the last. Nelson knew exactly where he stood and what he had to do.
His drive on No. 18 (par 4, 435 yards) found the left rough but he hit a sand wedge from 135 yards to 10 feet and two-putted for the victory.
Vermont has had a previous total of three New England Amateur champions in the previous 92 editions. Shawn Baker won in 1989, Hans Albertson won in 1990 and Evan Russell won in 2013. Now you can add Nelson to that list.
“I didn’t know that,” said Nelson, who also won the prestigious Hornblower Invitational in June. “That is cool. I grew up in Vermont and my father was a PGA professional there. There are a lot of good players in Vermont that might not get the recognition they deserve that guys in Southern New England do. I knew Evan Russell won in 2013. I looked up to Evan and to have my name along with him on the trophy means a lot to me and shows how far I have come.”