WATERVILLE — Emily Bouchard does not get excited about the Maine Women’s Amateur Tournament — at least, not too early anyways.

“Leading up to it I’m not that excited about it,” Bouchard said. “Then the week before I start to realize it’s right around the corner and I wish I could start the tournament tomorrow.”

When the tournament does begin Monday at Waterville Country Club, Bouchard figures to be the favorite as the tournament’s two-time defending champ — even if she has been off her game as of late.

“I actually — believe it or not — have not been playing very well. My game hasn’t been where it needs to be,” Bouchard said. “I’m in the process of a real minor swing change. Hopefully the rest will show up on Monday.”

Bouchard is set to tee off at 7:30 a.m. in the first group and there she will get a good look at what might be her biggest competition. Former champ Kristin Kannegieser (Martindale CC) is in the first group, and so is Waterville CC member Debby Gardner.

“That’s her home course,” Bouchard said of Gardner, “so she should have some course knowledge.”

Local knowledge is not something that will be on Bouchard’s side, although she did say she got a chance to play the course last weekend.

“I played a practice round over the weekend and my father caddied for me,” Bouchard said. “The course is kind of like what you see is what you get. My mantra for the week is going to be fairways and greens.”

Once players get to the greens, they should be in for a pleasant surprise. While many of the courses throughout the state were torn up by the rough winter weather, employees at Waterville CC worked throughout the offseason to chip ice off greens and keep them clear.

“Our course is as good as it’s been for years,” Waterville CC general manager Danny Proulx said. “I think the women are really, really going to enjoy it.

The greens, while expected to be rolling true, should still offer some challenges to the players as well.

“Normally the greens are very fast and most of them are sloped from back to front,” course head pro Don Roberts said. “It’s usually important to be below the hole and not be side to side.”

Ladies who are longer hitters should have an advantage in the three day tournament, as there will be five par-5 holes on the par-73 course that should provide an opportunity to post some low numbers.

Leslie Guenther (Norway CC), Monica Austin (The Woodlands Club), Dale Hannon (Natanis Golf Course), Marie Cates (Waterville CC), Liz Wiltshire (Natanis GC) and Mary Brandes (The Woodlands) — among others — also figure to be in the mix.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley

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