A strong field of players is ready for the Maine Women’s Amateur Championship, which will be played Monday through Wednesday at Biddeford-Saco Country Club.

The top contenders include defending champion Leslie Guenther of Norway, three-time winner Emily Bouchard, who will be playing her home course, Monica Austin, the 2013 Women’s Amateur champion, and Staci Creech, who reecently placed third at the New England Women’s Golf Association Championship. Kelsie Dessent of Fairfield and Bailey Plourde, two of the top high school golfers in the state last fall, also should contend.

“I’ve played quite a few tourneys (this summer),” Dessent, who won the state junior title last summer, said. “I had a rough start, but I’ve been playing a lot better lately.”

Dessent has never played Biddeford-Saco, and planned on getting in a practice round at the course on Friday.

“I’ve heard it’s pretty narrow,” Dessent said.

Longtime Women’s Amateur participant Wendy Bean is familiar with Biddeford-Saco Country Club.

“I really like the course. It reminds me of my home course, Augusta Country Club,” Bean said. “The course is kind of compact. From tee to green, it’s very close, and that makes it good for walking.”

While Dessent is among the top young players in the field, she’s keeping her goals for the Maine Amateur simple.

“I want to have a good show on the first day, and over the next two days narrow my score down,” Dessent said.

For Bean, who said she’s missed just tournament just once in the last decade, the goal is to simply have a good time.

“I do it to support women’s golf in Maine,” Bean said. “I just enjoy it. It’s fun to compete with different people.”

• • •

Dessent will begin attending Husson University in the fall, and she’s eager to be a part of the school’s inaugural women’s golf team.

“I’m pretty excited to be on the first team,” Dessent said. “In 20 years, that’s something I’ll be able to look back on.”

When she began looking at colleges, Dessent originally thought she’d prefer to head south, where she could play golf year-round. After giving the idea some thought, she changed her mind.

“I wasn’t ready to leave my family,” Dessent said. “Husson is the perfect distance from home.”

Coached by Mike Dugas, the pro at J.W. Parks Golf Course in Pittsfield, the Husson women’s golf team. Also the men’s golf head coach at Husson, Dugas will be assisted by Staci Creech. The team will hit the ground running, and is scheduled to appear in tournaments around New England.

“We have six tournaments in the fall,” Dessent said.

Dessent plans on studying premed at Husson.

• • •

Ninety-three golfers teed off in the first round of the Greater Bangor Open on Thursday at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. With day one of the two day tourament complete, a familiar name is at the top of the leaderboard.

Bangor native Jesse Spiers shot a five under 64 on Thursday to take the lead. A Bangor native, Spiers won the tournament in 2011. Spiers also won the Maine Amateur title in 2009. Spiers has a one stroke lead over Raoul Menard, Mike Welch and Gregory Jarmas, who are tied at 65. There is a seven-way tie at 67.

Spiers birdied four of the first five holes and finished his round with eight birdies. Menard birdied the first three holes, while Jarmas birdied holes 11 and 16, the two par 3’s on the back nine, to finish his round four under. Welch took a triple bogey on hole 12, but it was his only hiccup of the round. Welch birdied three consecutive holes after struggling on 12, and finished his round with seven birds.

Pittston native Ryan Gay was a four over 73. Gay was even on the front nine, but had two bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine.

First place in the Greater Bangor Open is worth $9,000 for a pro, while the top amateur wins $500.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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