While a handful of first round contests at the 71st L.D. Pierce Invitational had a clear winner, there was one championship flight match that came down to the wire at Rutland Country Club.

Country Club of Barre’s Bryson Richards and Eric Lajeunesse battled back and forth with Mount Anthony Country Club’s Taylor Bellemare and Matt Wilkinson with neither side giving much ground.

The Barre duo took a lead with a 3 on the opening hole, but the MACC contingent quickly erased that and took a lead of their own on the third hole.

The teams went through most of the front nine tied, before the Barre side opened up its biggest lead of the day, 2-up, on the 10th hole. Bellemare and Wilkinson once again battled back to tie the match heading into the final holes.

The match came down to the 18th hole, where Lajeunesse’s 3 was good enough to pull out a 1-up win.

Rutland Country Club’s Drake Hull and Jared Nelson, the No. 1 seed in the championship flight, ran into a tough contest with No. 16 Samuel Major and Cody Booska, but they staved off the upset with a strong back nine.

The first four holes of their first round match play contest were even, neither side taking an advantage. Some separation finally came on Hole 5 when Booska bested Hull and Nelson by a shot.

Booska and Major took that 1-up lead into the back nine and held it for two more holes, before higher-seeded duo tied the match on Hole 12 and carried that momentum to take a lead on 13. Hull and Nelson held on for a 3-and-2 win.

The top-seeded pair will play No. 8 Walker Allen and Freeman Allen, who also won 3-and-2, in the quarterfinals Saturday.

No. 13 seed Garren Poirier and Evan Russell took an early lead on Frankie Sanborn and Devin Knight and didn’t look back. Poirier’s 3 on the opening hole, put his team up by one and they built on that lead the rest of the way.

Sanborn’s 3 on Hole 5 shrunk the lead back to 2-up, but Poirier and Russell responded with a strong back nine to put the match away, 6-and-4.

No. 15 seed Max Major and Matt Morin had a similar run to Poirier and Russell.

Their 4 on Hole 2 gave them a 1-up lead on Kevin Thompson and Gregg Spiro and they continued to build on that the rest of the round. Heading into the back nine, the lower-seeded duo were leading 4-up. They won 5-and-4.

Brian Hill and Dale Patterson went down early John Esterbrook Jr and John Esterbrook III, but quickly recovered to tie the match on Hole 3, both scoring 3s while their opponents scored 5s. Hill and Patterson continued to build their lead from there. The Esterbrooks made a late run, but Hill and Patterson won 3-and 2.

Hill and Patterson will play seven-time winners Jody Larson and Mike Dukette, who won their first round match 2-and-1.

No. 10 seed Jack Morgan and Michael Morgan never trailed to No. 7 Jeffrey Houle and Jared Barber. Both guys posted a 4 on the first hole and they were in business from there, winning 4-and-3.

Junior Stroke Play

MIDDLEBURY — The 2020 Vermont Golf Association Junior Stroke Play championships opened up Friday at Ralph Myhre Golf Course.

The 16-18 girls division pit a pair of Rutland County state champions against each other. Ralph Myhre’s Mia Politano, of Otter Valley, and Rutland Country Club’s Jillian Miles, of Rutland High, took to the course to begin their battle for the title, ahead of the upcoming Vermont Women’s Amateur.

The reigning Division I medalist, Miles, got the better of the two-time reigning Division II medalist, Politano, in the first round. Miles shot an 11-over, while Politano shot a 21-over.

In the 16-18 boys division, Country Club of Barre’s Nelson Eaton leads the way with a 3-over 74 round on the par-71 course.

He owns a small lead over Owen and Nathan Benoit of Champlain.

Manchester Country Club’s Josh Cohen is in seventh place. Stowe’s Robbie Robinson sits in ninth.

Rutland’s Teegan Duffy takes on Manchester’s Alyssa Gallo made up the field in the 13-15 girls division.

Both girls shot 20-over for the first round.

In the 13-15 boys division, Ralph Myhre’s Lucas Politano had a strong first round, shooting 4-over. Lucas Politano’s eagle on Hole 13 was the highlight of a great back nine for the golfer.

Barre’s William Eaton and Garret Cameron and Ralph Myhre’s Thomas Politano both shot 13-over, good for a tie of third.

In the 10-12 boys division, Rutland’s Mattie Serafin leads after the first round with a 12-over score.

Rutland’s Kyle Blanchard shot a 17-over, while Oliver Graves and Ronan Duffy shot 23-over.

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