Ryan Gay’s game is beginning to come around, just in time for the Maine Amateur and his subsequent debut as a pro.

Gay played in Northeast Amateur this week at Wannamoisett Country Club in Providence, R.I. The tournament, in its 52nd year, is one of the most prestigious for amateurs, and this year drew participants from seven foreign countries. The 72-hole tourney is limited to 84 players.

Gay shot 72-73-74 — 219 and missed the cut for the final day.

He’s played well since graduating from St. John’s University where he transferred from New Mexico for his senior year. He teamed with three Augusta Country Club members to win the Club Team Championship at Belgrade Lakes, then finished second in the Paul Bunyan Tournament which drew 215 participants. He attempted to qualify for this week’s PGA Tour event, the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., and missed by a stroke despite shooting 69.

“It looked like I was going to get into a playoff for the last spot,” Gay said., “but a guy came in the last group and knocked me out. That would have been pretty good.”

Because of his amateur status, Gay has to go to a pre-qualifier to get into the regular Monday qualifier. He shot 72 in qualify for Monday. In looking back on Monday’s round, Gay recalled that he missed a putt than was less than two feet on the fourth hole.

“I missed a tap in,” he said. “You don’t think anything of it when you’re playing.”

Gay, who is working on his swing with Woodlands pro Paul Piveronas, will attempt to win his fourth Maine Amateur, which this year will be played on his home course at Augusta on July 9-11.

“That will be my last amateur event,” he said.

He’ll turn pro in time for the Charlie’s Maine Open later in July, which will also be played at the Augusta Country Club. After that he play in some open tournaments in New England and head to the Web.com tour school in the fall. The school has yet to select a site or a starting date.

“It’s still like a work in progress,” said Gay, who is looking for sponsors.

* * *

Defending Maine Amateur champion Seth Sweet of Madison has made a couple of swing changes this summer that could make him a two-time winner of the state’s most coveted amateur trophy.

After an up-and-down freshman year for the Old Dominion University golf team, Sweet adjusted his swing on the advice of ODU coach Murray Rudisill.

“It was kind of pushed by my college coach and I realized I had to,” Sweet said. “It’s very good right now. I’m hitting it a ton better.”

Sweet said he made a couple of adjustments at the top of his swing and another to his swing plane coming down “and I’ve been hitting it 15 yards further and straight. My driver’s been down the middle.”

Sweet and his father Dan recently won the Maine State Golf Association’s Father/Son tournament at Natanis. Sweet has since been working at home course, Lakewood, and playing and practicing every day in preparation for the Maine Amateur which will be held July 9-11 at the Augusta Country Club. Sweet, 18, won the title last year at Sunday River. He estimates he’s played Augusta a dozen times.

“It’s going to be challenging because they’re going to make the greens quick,” he said. “It’s short so it’s going to take driver out of my hands.”

* * *

In awarding 12 scholarships this year, the Maine State Golf Association topped 500 in the number of scholarships awarded since the program began in 1950. Over that time, the MSGA has awarded nearly $1.3 million in scholarships. Recipients have come from 124 different cities and towns and all 16 counties. This year’s 12 winners will receive $1,500 for the 2013-2014 academic year, renewable for four years of undergraduate study for a total of $6,000.

Funding comes from donations along with membership and entry fees paid by MSGA players and member clubs. The Charlie’s Maine Open Pro-Am is the single largest contributor to the fund outside of the MSGA itself.

The 12 recipients this year are Josh Bailey of East Vassalboro, Sam Grindle of Deer Isle, Kyle Bickford of Cumberland, Thomas Murray of Bangor, Spencer LaPierre of Gorham. Peter Carley of York, Wyatt Foster of Howland, Josh Pepin of Kennebunk, Tyler McDevitt of Morrill, Colton Davis of Bryant Pond, Chris Hillier of Bangor, and Ed Socker of Camden. Meghan Bickford of Cumberland and a junior at Methodist will receive an award on behalf of the Women’s Maine State Golf Association.

Chip shots . . . Vermont won the annual ladies Tri-State Golf tournament played Wednesday and Thursday at Natanis. The winners trailed New Hampshire by 3.5 points after the first day of alternate shot play but came back in Thursday’s individual matches to win by a point, 145-144. Maine finished third with 116 points . . . Tom Bean and John Downing won the Senior Two-Man championship recently at Poland Spring with a gross of 68 . . . Maine Amateur qualifiers will be held Tuesday at Martindale and Thursday at Penobscot Valley . . . The Maine Junior Tour will visit Belgrade Lakes on Tuesday for the Kit Bartlett Memorial.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

 

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