MANCHESTER — Mike Van Sickle’s first reaction was not anger when he heard the news that his opening round at Charlie’s Maine Open would not count.

“It was shock and a punch to the gut,” the former Marquette University standout said. “I really felt sickened.”

“I looked over at my dad and his face was white and in shock. It was just sickening. I don’t think I can express it any other way.”

Van Sickle’s ball was lying just short of the 18th green with an opportunity to chip in for an eagle and a new course record of 59 when the decision was made to bring players off the course due to intensifying rain. At approximately 1:30 p.m. officials with the Maine State Golf Association and Augusta Country Club elected to cancel the round and wipe the scoreboard clean.

“Although it stopped raining at around (1:45 p.m.) it was going to be about another two hours until the golf course was playable just because the amount of rain we got in such a short period of time,” Executive Director of the MSGA Nancy Storey said. “So we made the call. Randy Hodsdon — our official in charge — made the call after consulting with Chris Barnicoat, who is the superintendent (of Augusta CC).

“It was just an incredible amount of rain. There were rivers coming down the 18th hole. We would have had to trade golf carts in for kayaks to come into 18.”

The tournament will now be a one-day event with the entire 156-player field set to tee off Tuesday for 18 holes to decide the championship. Storey said that with other major events like the New Hampshire Open set to begin Wednesday that the Maine Open could not be extended.

“We couldn’t have a rain date with just so many events in the summer time,” Storey said. “We have to work to see when the event is going to be in the first place and we don’t really have any window of leeway or time where we can move it.”

Van Sickle broke the Bangor Municipal Golf Course record with an opening-round 60 at the Greater Bangor Open on Wednesday, and he went on to finish second in the tournament after falling to David Chung in a playoff. Van Sickle said he was not pleased with the decision and would use the washed out round as motivation Tuesday.

“I’m just going to show up fired up and ticked off and see if I can’t go birdie every hole out there,” Van Sickle said.

The Wexford, Pa. native did go back onto the course Monday after the round had been canceled to finish up the last hole, unofficially coming in at a 61. Had that counted, he would have held a five-shot lead over former University of Rhode Island golfer Jesse Larson.

Larson was one of a number golfers to post scores under par Monday before the rain washed them away. Defending champ Evan Harmeling carded a two-under-par 68 and saw the cancellation as an opportunity to get back in the hunt for the title.

“I guess I’ve got a better chance now that it got canceled,” he said.

Like Harmeling, recent Maranacook Community High School graduate Luke Ruffing was also relieved by the result. A disastrous start put him at six-over par after 14 holes.

“If today stood it would be just another round of golf,” Ruffing said. “That’s really how it is.”

Tommy Stirling, of Gorham, and four-time Maine Amateur champion Sean Gorgone did not even get that far as they were slated to tee off at 1:10 p.m. and 1:40 p.m., respectively.

“I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I wasn’t even going to play, or it was going to be at least delayed and I was going to play at a later time today,” Stirling said. “It ended up being a wash out.”

“I’m just going to have a good time and you go get ready tomorrow to light it up,” Gorgone said. “You do the best you can.”

Augusta CC superintendent Chris Barnicoat said the course “drains really well” and that it should — barring any more rain — be ready for Tuesday’s round. Although, battling the elements is nothing new for Barnicoat as he and his staff have been working to restore the course since snow and ice battered it this winter.

“You can’t mess with mother nature,” Barnicoat said. “It’s been swimming up stream the entire season but we’ll get through it. I’ve found the golf course is in very playable, decent shape.”

Harmeling, John Hickson and Andrew Slattery will be in the first group at 7:30 a.m. teeing off on hole No. 1, while Jace Pearson, Jimmy Lytle and Larson will begin at the same time on No. 10. Van Sickle will tee off on No. 1 at 7:50 a.m. in a group with Shawn Warren and Len Cole.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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