Teenagers Brandon Gillis and Davis Chatfield Dominate 52nd Hornblower with 65’s; Gillis Birdies 18 for One-Shot Victory

picture above: Champ Brandon Gillis stands between runner-up Davis Chatfield and Hornblower chairman Mike Ellis.

Two 17 year olds, Brandon Gillis and Davis Chatfield, turned the 52nd Hornblower Memorial Golf Tournament into their own personal junior championship during Saturday’s final round of the 36-hole event at Plymouth CC. Distancing themselves from the rest of the field, they both shot four-under-par 65. Gillis, however, who shot 68 (-1) on Friday, one better than Chatfield’s even-par 69, won the title when his 20-foot birdie putt on 18 teetered and then toppled into the hole.

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Brandon Gillis tees off in a photo that appears on his own website.

Never having seen PCC until his first round, Gillis, an upcoming senior at Nashua (NH) North and already committed to Wake Forest, was ecstatic. He said, “I hit the ball extremely well both days, and when I did make mistakes, I was able to recover with my short game. I was super calm all day today. Even on the last hole, I wasn’t feeling nervous, and I was able to roll in the putt for the win. Just unbelievable!” Gillis’s -5 total of 133 included five birdies, two eagles, and four bogeys.

Standing on the 14th tee, Gillis, who plays at Green Meadow GC, was at -2 and three behind Chatfield, who was playing in the group ahead. Also an upcoming senior at Bishop Feehan in Attleboro (MA), Chatfield had parlayed four birdies, an eagle on the par-4 7th, and a lone bogey into his -5 as he teed off on the par-3 15th. A bogey on 15 and then a missed eight-foot putt for birdie on 18 set the scene for Gillis’s late heroics.

With only one bogey all day, Brandon Gillis, who won the 2015 NH Junior Amateur and finished third in the Southern Junior Amateur, made a great up and down on 15 to save par and then crushed his drive on PCC’s only par five, the 505-yard 16th. He said, “I had 220 left and hit a choked down 3-hybrid to within seven feet. I then made one of my best putting strokes in the tournament for that eagle.” Gillis made a routine par on 17, crushed another drive on 18, and left his PW within 20 feet for the decisive putt.

Mike Ellis, Hornblower chairman and longtime member of PCC, said Gillis and Chatfield now co-own the new Hornblower course record, created with the lengthening of the course and the addition of four new black tees. James Driscoll, a touring pro today, had the low round of 63 on the former layout.

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At only 5’ 4” and 120 pounds, Davis Chatfield seemed a little out of place among the other 154 players who teed it up on Friday, but his ball striking, short game, pleasant demeanor, and undeniable poise were all big time. His seven birdies and one eagle with only five bogeys also proved that he belonged.

Already committed to Notre Dame upon graduation in 2017, Chatfield spoke glowingly of the tournament. He said, “What a great event! And the course was in great shape. I had a ton of fun with my playing partners today, Herbie Aikens and Bobby Leopold. They really put me at ease. Plymouth is just an awesome course and reminds me so much of my home course Wannamoisett, another par-69 Donald Ross with one par 5 on the back. This was my first Hornblower, and I’ll be back next year.”

Two time champion (2009, 2011) Bobby Leopold shot a two-under 67 to go along with his first round even-par 69 to come in third, three shots off the pace at 136. St. Anselm College graduate and George Wright GC golfer, Sean Fitzpatrick, the overnight leader with a 66, was -4 on the 11th tee before struggling over the final eight holes and carding a 73 for a 139. One of New England’s leading amateurs, Herbie Aikens, who plays at The Pinehills just down the road from PCC, tied Fitzpatrick for 4th with scores of 69-70.

Tufts University’s Owen Elliot added a 73 to his 68 for a 141 and 6th place all alone. Ryan Tombs (73-69) from Bryant University and Mike Arter (71-71) from LeBaron Hills CC tied for 7th at 142. Seven players tied at 143: Kevin Duncan (71-72), Fairfield University; Patrick Frodigh (72-71), University of Louisville; Christopher Gentle (73-70), St. Thomas Aquinas; William Hall (73-70), Rollins College; Tim Johnson (73-70), Poquoy Brook; John Kelly (70-73), Mass Amateur champion 2014; Matt Parziale (72-71), Hornblower champion 2007; and Patrick Welch (69-74), Metacomet CC.

Yale University student and Thorny Lea member, Lucas Hicks (70-74) used a six iron to ace the 192-yard 15th hole on Friday. It was the first hole-in-one for the 19-year-old Milton (MA) resident and Noble & Greenough graduate and the first in the Hornblower since 1993.

A 74 was needed to make the cut for Saturday, one of the lowest cuts ever.

For all scores and more information, access the website at www.HornblowerMemorial.com.