YORK — With the final nine holes of the Maine Amateur Championship still to play, two-thirds of the final group — the tournament’s leaders — knew it was over.

Vetrans Joe Baker and Ricky Jones sensed that Matt Hutchins, their 19-old playing partner playing in his first Maine Am, was on the verge of a roll.

“Me and Ricky both saw it coming. We were talking to each other going up, I think, the tenth hole. We both looked at each other and started laughing. That’s all you can do,” Baker said. “After a while, me and Rickey pretty much knew we were playing for second.”

On Thursday, Hutchins eagled hole 8 at the York Golf and Tennis Club, sparking a dominant finish to the tournamwent. Hutchins birdied three of the final nine holes, had one bogey in the final round, and shot a five under 65 to finish the tournament at six under overall.

“It was just a true honor to play this week,” said Hutchins, who was born in Maine, lived in Massachusetts the last 12 years, and moved back to Falmouth last fall with his parents. “I just try to keep a level mind out there, not too high or low… Winning a tournament’s awesome, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a joy to be out here playing golf when a lot of people are doing other things. I just really appreciate to have the opportunity to play.”

Hutchins’ 65 on Thursday was the best round of the tournament, besting the 67 he shot on Wednesday. He was the only player to finish the tournament under par, beating the second-place Jones, a three-time Maine Am winner, by six strokes.

“It was fun to watch him when got going on the roll. He made those two good up and downs in the first three holes, and from there, it was unbelievable,” Jones, who started the day with a one stroke lead over Hutchins and Baker, said.

Hutchins’ final round was average for four holes. When he bogeyed the 369-yard, par-4 fourth hole, Hutchins was two strokes behind Jones for the lead. A birdie on five pulled Hutchins within a stroke of Jones.

Jones doubled bogeyed the 200-yard, par-3 seventh, bringing the final group all even. On hole 8, Hutchins took over.

Hole 8 at the York Golf and Tennis Club is a par 5, a 456-yard challenge. It’s the second-longest hole on the course, and after two shots, Hutchins faced a 50-foot putt for eagle. He sank it, and that shot was a harbinger of what was coming on the back nine.

“I was just trying to lag that up close, and I was fortunate enough to catch one of the edges and bang in the back,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins had a two stroke lead over both Jones and Baker as they went to the back nine. Hutchins birdied 10, picking up a stroke on each. Baker lost a stroke when he bogeyed 11, and Jones lost a stroke when he bogeyed 12. Jones gained back a stroke with a birdie on 13, the second and final par 5 of the course, but gave it back with a bogey on 14.

“It was basically par the rest of the way, and watch him make birdies,” Jones said. “Honestly, I asked my caddie on (hole) 10 what he shot on the front, because I didn’t know. I knew going out I was going to try to be around 67, 68. If I’d had done that, I still wouldn’t have caught him.”

An uphill hole, 16 gave players fits all week, producing just 10 birdies in the tournament. On Thursday, Hutchins was able to chip to within a few feet of the hole on 16, picking up an impressive par.

“On 16, I felt like if I was short of the green, that’s an easier chip than hitting it over. Just a pretty straight uphill chip, and if you hit it hard enough, it’s going to get up the slope,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins birdied 15 and 17, but said he didn’t feel comfortable with his lead until the 18th green.

“I never was sure if they’re going to make an eagle or birdie. You never know,” Hutchins said.

The only thing that prevented Hutchins from pulling away from the field sooner was a dreadful start to his opening round Tuesday. Hutchins bogeyed three of his first four holes before finding his rhythm.

“He got off to a slow start. It could’ve been better,” Baker said.

Hutchins felt a key to his win was a short game was that strong for all three rounds.

“I was just trying to hit smart shots on the green and get myself uphill putts for birdie. Just make sure I don’t miss it in places that will be tough to make par,” Hutchins said. “I putted well all week. I was able to make some good par saves today, and especially the past two days, which kind of kept my round going. That kept me in it.”

The Maine Am win is another impressive effort in Hutchins’ summer. He also paced second in the New England Open, and third in the Massachusetts Open. In May, Hutchins helped Chico State University place second at the NCAA Division II golf championship. Next fall, Hutchins will transfer to UCLA, where he’ll play Division I golf for the Pac-12 school.

“I’m really looking forward to it, to help their team. They didn’t have their best year last year, but hopefully we can turn that around and contend for a national championship,” Hutchins said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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