Abby Spector has a new job. A year after being hired as head pro at Sugarloaf, the Waterville native and seven-time Maine Amateur champ has accepted a position as teaching pro at Dunegrass Golf Club in Old Orchard Beach.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the instruction side of the business rather than the head professional side,” Spector said.

Spector is now a Class A member of the PGA, having completed her membership over the winter at Myrtle Beach where she also played some golf. Although she enjoyed her year at Sugarloaf, she admitted to feeling a little isolated.

“I used to live in the Portland area when I was at Val Halla,” she said. “I’ve wanted to get back to southern Maine since then.”

The teaching pro position is a new one at Dunegrass where Jim Fairbanks is the head pro. The club plans to start a first tee program this year and Spector plans to start a junior program much like she did at Val Halla.

“That’s the biggest thing I’ll try to do this year,” she said. “I’m very excited.”

Steve Niezgoda, who was head pro at Sugarloaf for two years prior to Spector’s arrival will return as head pro after working a year for Boyne, the course’s parent company.

“It was an amicable parting,” Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said of Spector’s departure. “We loved having her here for the summer. She was great for us.”

Spector won a New England Amateur title in 2001 and prior to that four schoolgirl championships while attending Waterville Senior High School. She attended the University of North Carolina on a golf scholarship, graduating in 2004. Her competitive career ended in 2003 due to complications following heart surgery.

She has worked as a pro or assistant pro at several golf courses, including Gaspirilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande , Fla. for five winters, Lake Winnipesaukee and the Balsams in New Hampshire, Natanis and Val Halla in Maine, and The Country Club in Brookline Mass.

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PGA Tour caddy and Waterville native Jeff Willett is back on the bag for Brandt Jobe, who missed much of last year with a neck injury. Willett picked up tour rookie J.J. Killeen in the interim. Jobe, 47, is playing his ninth tournament of the year this week, the Wells Fargo Championships In Charlotte, N.C. So far, Jobe has made five cuts and earned $117,00.

“He’s starting to get back on track right now,” said Willett, who is caddying in his third tournament in three weeks. “This little stretch should be good for him.”

Despite Jobe’s age, Willett said he plays like a much younger golfer when healthy.

“He doesn’t act his age or look his age,” Willett said. “He still bombs it. It’s so hard to leave him because he hits it so long and so good.”

While some caddies offer occasional advice, Willett is in Jobe’s ear and head often.

“I give him quite a bit of input,” he said. “He relies on me a lot.”

Willett said the mentality of the younger players has changed a lot since he first came on tour 13 years ago.

“There’s no more top and bottom,” he said. “These young guys don’t think about negative results. They’re just going for it. Veteran guys don’t want to make a mistake, the young guys just don’t care.”

Willett spends about 28 weeks a year on tour and there are pros and cons.

“I love it out here,” he said. “The travel takes away from my family and that’s tough. But Thursday through Sunday there’s no place I’d rather be than trying to help a guy win.”

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Ryan Gay saved his best tournament this season for the end of his collegiate career. The Pittston native and St. John’s University senior shot 70-71-61 — 212 to finish 4-under par and fourth overall at the Big East championships at the Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla., last weekend. St. John’s placed second in the tournament to South Florida, thus ending its season.

Gay, who transferred from the University of New Mexico after his junior year, plans to turn pro after competing in the Maine Amateur in early July at the Augusta Country Club. He’s struggled the last couple of years with a swing that led him to win three Maine Amateurs by age 20.

“I hit it great at the Big East all three rounds,” Gay said. “Actually I had a chance to win but I putted poorly on the final day.”

Gay has been working on his swing with Paul Piveronas, director of instruction at The Woodlands in Falmouth.

“I haven’t been hitting the ball well for the past couple of years,” he said. “Now everything is starting to fall into place. It was good to get myself back into contention this week.”

Gay will graduate in a couple of weeks from St. John’s with a degree in psychology, but hopes to make his living from golf. He plans to play in some state opens, starting with the Charlie’s Maine Open at the Augusta Country Club. He’ll live at home in hopes of saving some money before heading to Florida in the winter when he plans to compete on the PGA Tour Latin America, a developmental tour that features 11 events in 15 weeks.

Chip shots: Belgrade Lakes opened Wednesday and will host the Club Team championship on May 19 . . . Sugarloaf has yet to set an opening date, although spokesman Ethan Austin estimates it will be Memorial Day weekend. “There’s still snow in some spots on the course,” he said. . . . Clinton Golf Course plans to open later this month.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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