All summer last year, it was as if Jack Wyman couldn’t miss.

The Falmouth resident won the Portland Country Club championship. He won the Maine Amateur championship. He reached the finals as the top seed at the Match Play Championship, and was the low amateur at the Charlie’s Maine Open.

Week after week, Wyman teed it up as the favorite in the field. And he began to feel like it, too.

“After a while, you start gaining confidence and believing in yourself a little more,” he said. “It was just a mentality of ‘I can do this,’ as opposed to ‘Hopefully it does (happen).’ “

Now, after a summer to remember, Wyman’s looking for an encore. He’ll be in the field Tuesday at the Maine Am at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club as the defending champion, looking to reclaim the title that kicked off his standout season.

“It’s when everyone kind of gets together and gets to show off their best stuff, and this year it’s at Belgrade, so it’s a treat for everyone,” he said. “I think we’re all pretty excited to get up there and play.”

The players seeking to deny him that title, meanwhile, will be looking for his name on the scoreboard.

“Obviously you need to try to play against the course and not the players in the field, but you also need to recognize that Jack is out there and he’s probably going to play well,” said UNC Wilmington golfer Reese McFarlane, another favorite going into the tournament. “If Jack is on the tee sheet, you know that you’re probably going to need to post a good round in order to stay in contention.”

For Wyman, last year’s title — his first — was a boost for his career.

“I didn’t have expectations (last year), but I definitely wanted to compete,” he said. “It was kind of the validation of my hard work. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career, so hopefully I could have one more, or a couple would be great.”

Eager as Wyman is to conquer the state and one of its most prized titles again, his goals and aspirations extend to a broader scale. Shortly after graduating from Endicott College in 2013, Wyman made the decision to pursue golf year-round, holding off a full-time job while seeing how far he could take his game.

“I really just wanted to work on my game and see how good I can get,” he said. “And that’s kind of been my focus the last couple of years, just to see how good I can get and see what happens.”

After the summer of 2015, Wyman started his now annual routine of going to Charleston, South Carolina for the winter. He leaves in November and comes back to Maine in late April or early May, allowing him to play or practice nearly every day.

From the start, Wyman could see the improvement.

“I noticed, playing all year round, that I kind of hit the ground running as far as the season went. The trend kept going the same direction each year I came back, I felt like I was improving just by playing,” he said. “The more you play, the more confident you are. You can’t just show up without playing, unless you’re a pure natural … and hope to have a good round.

“It’s repetition and experience. That’s how you perform. I don’t think there’s any way to really cheat that.”

It’s a routine, however, that could have a time limit. Most players making the decision to turn pro do so in their early 20s, and at 27, Wyman knows he’s going to have to make a decision soon.

“(Playing professionally is) an option I’d definitely pursue if I felt like my game was at that level. But I’m also getting to the age where I have to build a career at some point too and start a life,” said Wyman, who earned an MBA after graduating. “I’ll know when to throw in the towel. I’ve been fortunate to be able to play as much as I have, and I’ve had a great time doing it, but it either works out or it doesn’t.”

That call can wait. For now, Wyman is eager to add a second chapter to his storybook run, which began when he beat the field at last year’s Maine Am at Brunswick Golf Club by two strokes.

“It was the front nine of my second or third day, the putter was going, and I just knew that if I could get it close to the greens or on the green, I was going to have a good chance,” he said. “You have times during a round where you just kind of know if you have it or you don’t. I had it for three days last year, so it just worked out great for me.”

His opponents know he’ll likely be up near the top again.

“Jack is sneaky good,” MacFarlane said. “He wouldn’t catch your eye. If you see him on the driving range, you might not think that he’s going to be the best player in the field, but when you play with him he seems to always make par. He’s never out of a hole … and he’s just a fierce competitor. He’s never going to give up.”

And he won’t be the one putting pressure on himself, defending champion or not.

“I’ve played golf long enough to know you can’t expect to go out there and win every time you play,” he said. “It’s just not realistic.”

As he showed last year, however, you can come pretty close.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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