MANCHESTER — Steady rain kept most of the afternoon field from posting low scores on day one of the Maine Open at the Augusta Country Club. For James Dornes, the weather was nothing more than a minor nuisance.

Dornes, a pro from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, teed off at 1:30 p.m. on hole 10, in one of the final groups of the day. Playing in the worst conditions of the day, Dornes birdied five of his final eight holes. Even a bogey on No. 3 couldn’t put a dent in Dornes’ round, as he shot a 7-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead into Tuesday’s final round.

Jason Thresher, who on Saturday won the Greater Bangor Open by four strokes, and Geoff Sisk are tied for second at 5-under. The top of the leaderboard is peppered with former Maine Open champions. Former winners of the tournament in the top 10 after round one include Sisk (1996), Michael Carbone (2011), Shawn Warren (2004), and Matthew Campbell (2015). Carbone is three shots off the lead, while Warren and Campbell sit four strokes behind Dornes.

“Thought I kind of plopped my way around the course pretty well today. Just kept it in play off the tee and got a lot of wedges out here, so giving myself some pretty good yardages to where I had wedge in my hand, and was just putting it in good spots on the green,” Dornes said. “I hit a few tight, but just really hit it, kept it below the hole, which you’ve got to do out here on some holes. But just gave myself makeable putts all day, that’s all I can ask for. And the putter was going well.”

In all, 25 of the 105 players finished the first day under par.

“This course has some teeth for 6,500 yards,” Rocky Khara, who sits five strokes behind Dornes at 68, said.

Dornes said playing in the rain forced him to make adjustments.

“Once it started getting a little slippy, a little wet, I just kind of started choking down and getting it in play off the tee, whether hitting drivers out there only 270, 275, but you’ve still got wedge in,” Dornes said. “Really, on the front side, I just tried to keep it in play, and my wedges were feeling good today. I just tried to give myself putts and, like I said, my putting was feeling good.”

Unlike Dornes, other players struggled in the rain. Ricky Stimets birdied four of his first five holes and was 4-under through nine, but a bogey on 10 and a double bogey on 12, a tough uphill par 4, and finished his round 1-under 69. In the rain, Stimets said he shortened up his swing.

“I haven’t played a tournament round in the rain for a while, so it was just a little different. I wish I had a caddie,” Stimets said.

Thresher, from West Suffield, Connecticut, played in the first group of the day, and was off the course before the rain came. Thresher birdied four of his first six holes Monday. Thresher opened his round with birdie on hole one, then went to four under par with consecutive birdies on four, five, and six. The 10-foot putt Thresher sank for birdie on six was his longest made putt of the day, he said.

“The front nine, I was just in the zone again,” Thresher said. “Coming from the Bangor (Open), the greens were a little quicker, so I had to make an adjustment there. This morning there’s no wind, cloudy, absolutely perfect scoring conditions. Couldn’t ask for better weather.”

Thresher’s lone bogey came on No. 11, but birdies on 16 and 18 dropped him to 5-under. Thresher, who also has won the last two Massachusetts Opens, had a chance for eagle on 18, but his putt lipped the hole and stayed out.

“I hit my line. I knew it was going to stay a little to the right, but it was a little more than I thought,” Thresher said.

Campbell won the Maine Open two years ago, and put himself in contention again with a 3-under 67 Monday. Campbell placed third in the Greater Bangor Open, his first tournament since competing in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin last month.

“On the first tee (at the U.S. Open), I’ve never been so nervous,” Campbell said. “I joked with my caddie, ‘Can you put the tee in for me?'”

Nerves were not an issue for Campbell at Augusta Country Club. He’s had success here before, and despite his low score Monday, felt he left some shots on the course.

“Anything under par is good right now,” Campbell, who placed third in the Greater Bangor Open, said. “My wedges have been off. I’m not giving myself good looks at birdies.”

Among the leaders, Dornes and Thresher each feel good about their recent play. For Thresher, the proof is in the wins.

“I went down south to Florida this winter for the first time, and I got a head start on the season. I spent a lot of time putting down there,” Thresher said. “My key has always been ball striking in the past. This year I’m just making a few more birdie putt than I have in the past. That’s the main difference.”

To Dornes, recovering from a three-putt bogey on No. 3 to sink three consecutive birdies and take the lead in the rain was an encouraging sign.

“I’ve been playing some good golf lately. I’m hitting the ball well, putter feels really good, so I’m just going to go out and try to do the same thing (Tuesday),” Dornes said. “If you put yourself in good spots on the green, get some uphill putts, you’re going to make putts. The greens are good. Just more of that tomorrow, putting it in good spots on the fairway and giving myself good looks all day.”

There’s a three-way tie for the amateur lead, with Craig Chapman, Ricky Jones, and Will Kannegieser all even. Jones is the last amateur to win the Maine Open, in 2006 at Fox Ridge.

Staff Writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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