Golf has been testing Ryan Gay’s patience of late.

Perhaps the second half of his day at the Charlie’s Maine Open on a course that he’s been playing since he was 7 can get him back on track.

Gay rebounded from a near-disastrous 40 on the front nine at Augusta Country Club to shoot 3-under par on the back. The Pittston native and three-time Maine Amateur champion finished 1-over 71, seven shots off the lead.

“I hit some good shots on the front. I missed, like, five putts inside of five feet. I hit it in, I believe, six bunkers, which is just no recipe to score well,” he said. “I got behind the eight ball real fast and then clawed my way back on the back.”

Gay bogeyed the par-4 third hole and double-bogeyed the par-3 seventh and par-4 ninth. A regular at Augusta before he turned pro, Gay said it was one of the worst, if not the worst, front nine he’s had there.

“I don’t ever remember shooting 40 on either side here. Maybe when I was real young, but I can’t ever remember shooting 40 on either side. It was just one of those freak things that happened,” Gay said.

He said he could have really made a comeback on the back nine and broken par for the round if he caught a couple of breaks, but was happy with how he recovered. He birdied par-fours at 12 and 14 and finished the day with a birdie at the par-5 18th.

“I had a couple of lip-outs on the back. I could have been lower, but what can you do?” he said. “I stayed really patient and fought back. At least I’m in a position where if I shoot something low tomorrow, I’ll at least have a different finish.”

Gay has been playing professionally around the Northeast and Canada this spring and summer. He returned to Maine last week for the Greater Bangor Open and shot 7-over 214, and Monday’s start was more of the same for the Gardiner High School alum.

“I’ve really just worked on trying to stay patient because I’ve been struggling,” he said. “Knowing it will turn around at some point, I strung some good shots together on the back and a lot of putts still didn’t fall. I managed to turn a terrible round into a manageable round.”

Gay hopes to continue improving as he tees up for the New Hampshire, Manchester, Boston and New England (Quechee, Vt.) opens.

• • •

Leader Brian Agee will tee off with the final group of the final round Tuesday at 1:20 p.m., joined by one of his playing partners from Monday, Eric Beringer, and David Hilgers, who are both a shot back at -5. Patrick Pelletier, who also trails Agee by a stroke, tees off at 1:10 p.m. With the exception of one player — Eric Atsma of Orlando, Fla., — the last four groups will begin the day within two shots of the lead.

Matthew Loubier, of Waterville, tied with Shawn Warren of Cape Elizabeth as the top Mainer after Day 1 after firing a 3-under 67. He tees off with Warren and Burgess Houston of Framingham, Mass., at 12:40 p.m.

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Manchester native and 13-time Maine Amateur champion Mark Plummer expected a steady flow of low scores throughout the day at his home course after being among the first to turn in his card late Monday morning.

“I thought (the course) was set up pretty easy today,” he said. “They had all of the pins right in the middle of the greens. They had a few good pins, but I thought they set it up very fairly and not really too difficult. The greens were good. They dried up pretty good from all of the rain.”. While Plummer, who shot an even-par 70, and other early starters played under mostly cloudy skies, the sun did start to peak through as the last morning groups hit the course.

“It was good. It was soft,” Gay said. “You can make a ton of birdies out here just because of how soft it is,”

Chris Hamel, of Waterville, played all of his round in the sun and subsequent spike in temperatures and found the greens soft but also getting quicker.

“The greens were really receptive,” said Hamel, who finished 2-under. “They were fast greens, though, and I put myself above the hole a few times, so some really quick putts coming down the hill.”

• • •

Ten of the top 12 amateur scores on Monday were turned in by Mainers. Curtis Jordan of Portland, Malcolm Oliver of Damariscotta, and Peter Wright of Old Orchard Beach finished at -1. Plummer and fellow Manchester resident Luke Ruffing were even and 1-over par, respectively. Jason Gall of Augusta was +4, Mike Nowak of Belgrade Lakes +5, Mike Pion of Vassalboro +7, Thomas Bean of Manchester +8, Taylor Morang of Winthrop +14 and Alec Peachey of Augusta +19.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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