When the Maine Women’s Amateur Championship gets underway at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono next week, the biggest question will be, can anyone compete with Staci Creech?

Last year, Creech played in her first Maine Amateur, winning by seven strokes over Emily Bouchard at Biddeford-Saco Country Club. Creech and Bouchard were tied with six holes to play, but Creech finished with four pars and two birdies over the final holes to pull away. Her final round 2-under 70 was the only round under par of the tournament.

The tournament is scheduled for Monday through Wendesday, with a field of 64 players.

Creech will tee off in the first group on Monday morning at 7:30. Her playing partner for the first round is Bailey Plourde of Newcastle. One of the top junior players in the state, Plourde won the state girls junior title on Wednesday at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland. Erin Holmes, who was runner-up to Plourde at the junior championship, will tee off in the day’s second group, and play with Lori Frost.

Leslie Guenther, who won the 2014 Maine Amateur title at Waterville Country Club, will tee off at 8 a.m. Monday.

Among the contenders from central Maine are Carrie Langevin of Augusta Country Club, Liz Wiltshire of Natanis, and Kelsie Dessent of Natanis. Langevin and Wiltshire will tee off together at 8:20 a.m. Monday. A Lawrence High School graduate, Dessent recently completed her first season as a member of the Husson University golf team.

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A pair of professional tournaments are taking place in Maine this week. First, the Greater Bangor Open began on Thursday at Bangor Municipal Golf Course and will run through Saturday. On Monday, Charlie’s Maine Open will play the first of two days at Augusta Country Club.

The back-to-back tournaments attract professional golfers from around the country, as well as some of the top amateur players in the region.

Gardiner’s Ryan Gay shot an opening round 3-under at the GBO on Thursday to place himself among the leaders. Gay had four birdies and just one bogey in his opening round. Gay sits two strokes behind a three-way tie for the lead between Jesse Larson, Raoul Menard and Matt Saglio. Larson, a Vermont native, was as many as seven strokes under par before bogeys on 16 and 18 to close his round. Menard finished his round well, with three birdies over his final seven holes. Saglio birdied three of the first five holes and added two more birds with a bogey-less round for his 5-under.

Mike Dugas, the pro at JW Parks Golf Course in Pittsfield, shot a 2-under 67 in his opening round. Amateur Gavin Dugas, Mike’s son, shot an even 69 in the first round. Gavin Dugas was 1-under until a bogey on 18 evened his round.

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This is the fifth consecutive year the Maine Open will be played at Augusta. The field features 120 pros and 36 amateur players over 36 holes of stroke play. Golfers from 20 states are registered for the tournament.

Matt Campbell, a pro out of Clifton Park, New York, won the 2015 Maine Open. Campbell shot 7-under on the second day to take the crown, with eight birdies over his final 15 holes. Campbell is back to defend his title, and will play in the first group on Monday, teeing off at 7:30 a.m. Campbell will be joined by Matt Hutchins, who won the Maine Amateur title last week at York Golf and Tennis Club, and Jeff Martin, of Warwick, Rhode Island.

Playing his home course, Gay is scheduled to tee off on hole one at 7:50 a.m. Monday. Among the local amateurs set to play the Maine Open are Mark Plummer, Thomas Bean and Luke Ruffing, all of Manchester, Jim Quinn of Farmingdale, Taylor Morang of Winthrop, Gavin Dugas of Pittsfield, and Harold Hutchins of Winslow. The top 20 amateurs plus ties will advance to Tuesday’s final round.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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