By Matt Jenkins
---- — BOXFORD — Seven putts and an afternoon wind that was picking up speed with each passing hole made it difficult, but Gloucester’s Josh Salah persevered.
Salah shot a second-round 74 to capture the 39th Annual North Shore Amateur Golf Championship by one stroke yesterday at Far Corner Golf Course.
Salah, who plays out of Bass Rocks, entered the day in second place, trailing by one shot. His 74 was enough to edge out second-place finishers Craig Farley of North Andover Country Club and Phil Miceli of Sagamore. Salah’s two-day total was 146, while Farley and Miceli came in at 147.
A fast start — birdies on the second and third holes — had Salah thinking about a low score, but he four-putted on the fourth hole, then three-putted the 18th hole to make things interesting.
“I figured somebody would go low and I just wanted to make sure I stayed aggressive. But, as the round went on, it kept getting harder and harder as the wind picked up. It was probably the hardest I’ve seen this course play in awhile,” Salah said. “On four, I hit a great shot in there to about 12 feet and I had a little brain fart and four-putted. I don’t know if it just kind of got me to focus a little more. After I made those two (bridies) it felt easy and I just lost my focus a little on the green. From there on in, I kind of hung in there.”
After four-putting, Salah played the next nine holes at even par, carding a birdie on 12.
His three-putt bogey on 18 proved to be a non-factor.
“I knew that putt was going to be quick,” said Salah, a former Gloucester High and Sacred Heart University standout. “I wanted to make it and I was probably a little too aggressive with it, but I had been putting so well the last two days that I wasn’t even thinking about the next one. I just lost my focus on that and hit a bad putt. I’m glad it didn’t come down to that.”
John Gilmartin of Indian Ridge and Ki Kwon of Far Corner tied at 148, and North Andover Country Club’s Alex Brown and Bradford’s Nick Maccario were even at 150.
Myopia’s Emilio Bardini and Far Corner’s Andrew Ryan each shot 73 in the second round for the lowest scores of the day.
Bardini, Far Corner’s Ernie Lupi, and Thomson Country Club’s Dom Petruzelli were also prize winners at 151.
It was a crowded leaderboard coming into the second round with 17 players shooting 75 or better on the first day.
“On the back nine I thought if I hung around even par I was going to have a chance, but like I said the course was playing hard,” Salah said. “I didn’t think 5-under was out there today. That would have been a really good round and I didn’t think somebody was going to go too low. I figured I would at least have a chance if I hung around even.”
The win felt really good for Salah, who finished second to Colin Brennan last year after shooting a 66 in the first round. Brennan shot a course-record 65 in the second round to win.
Salah and Brennan have plans to move to Orlando with two or three other Massachusetts golfers in the fall to turn pro and work on their games all year.
“This summer I’ve kind of been struggling. I’ve been telling myself to just be patient, that it’s golf and it can come and go pretty quickly. Sometimes it just takes a tournament like this to spark a win, and it could lead to bigger and better things in the future,” Salah said.
“I’m really good friends with Colin and I was happy for him winning last year. Anytime someone shoots 7-under like that, you kind of just tip your hat. I like this course and I like this tournament. It’s always fun, but I just went out today and tried to free it up. I’ve been struggling so I’ve kind of been thinking too much out there. I just wanted to get out of my own way.”
A possible addition could be coming to the 40th North Shore Amateur Championship next year. Far Corner Director of Golf Bob Flynn was talking to some of the players about adding a senior division next August.