ORONO — Staci Creech has been playing competitive golf long enough to know not to worry about blips. It’s golf. They happen.

So when young Bailey Plourde cut Creech’s seven-stroke lead to one with eight holes left Wednesday in the final round of the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championships, Creech didn’t worry.

“I was just thinking, ‘Stay patient and hit one shot at a time,’ ” said Creech, who played at the University of North Carolina. “If you have a bad stretch you just have to keep plugging away and see what happens.”

What happened was Creech regained her stroke to pull away for her second straight women’s amateur title, winning by 11 shots on a sweltering day at the Penobscot Valley Country Club.

“It feels great,” said the 43-year-old Creech, who lives in Veazie and plays out of Bangor Municipal. “It’s hard to defend sometimes because the target’s on you. And especially being so close to home, a lot more people were interested. It feels great that I was able to get it done.”

Creech, who won by seven strokes a year ago, finished with a 2-over 75 for a three-round total of 215. She was the lone golfer to finish under par. Plourde, a 16-year-old from Newcastle who is entering her senior year at Lincoln Academy, was second with a 226 after a 10-over 83, including a disastrous 14th hole that turned the match around.

Stephanie Rodrigue was third at 233, shooting the only sub-par round Wednesday, a 1-under 72. Lori Frost, the third member of the final group, was fourth at 235.

Plourde, who entered the day three strokes back, recovered from early struggles to make it a match again. Creech bogeyed four consecutive holes and Plourde pulled within one stroke with birdies on nine and 10.

Creech got a stroke back when she parred 12 and Plourde bogeyed the hole, her putt for par breaking right at the last second.

Creech then birdied the par-5 13th, missing an eagle when her putt lipped out. And Plourde bogeyed it, her second shot landing in a bunker – an omen for things to come.

Creech parred the par-3 14th hole but Plourde shot a 9. Her tee shot went into the sand on the left. Her shot out of the trap flew over the green and out of bounds into the woods for a one-stroke penalty. She went back to the bunker and again overshot the green, landing in a sand bunker on the right side.

Her next shot got out of the bunker but only onto the rough sloping down toward the bunker. She got on the green with her next shot, then three-putted, her next-to-last shot rimming out. When it was over, she had to be consoled by her father, Bob, who was her caddie. That gave Creech an insurmountable 10-stroke lead with four holes to play.

“I honestly don’t know what happened,” said Plourde of that fateful 14th hole. “I wasn’t really on my game totally the entire round and just crumbled, I guess. I don’t know.”

Both Creech and Frost – who play Penobscot Valley occasionally – said the 14th is treacherous for its bunkers.

“The sand traps there are just unforgiving,” said Frost, who also shot a 10 over on Wednesday. “She got, just, flustered.”

Plourde added that although she had been playing well, her bogey on 13 – which dropped her four strokes back – was still on her mind when she teed off on No. 14.

“I thought I was on a roll,” she said. “I don’t know. Something went wrong. I didn’t stay focused out of (13). I said, ‘Geez, I’m out of it.’ I shouldn’t have. I should have kept focused but I didn’t …Learning curve.”

Creech said she knows Plourde’s pain. “We all have had holes like that,” she said. “She’ll learn. She’s got a bright future.”

Plourde, while disappointed with that one hole, was pleased with her overall performance. Last year she was fourth in the women’s amateur, the year before third. “It’s not too bad,” she said. “My best finish.”

Creech, meanwhile, showed why she’s the state’s best. She didn’t get flustered, continually hit the ball down the middle of the fairway and stayed out of trouble.

“She’s a great competitor,” said Frost. “She’s just a pleasure to watch.”

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