BELGRADE — Cole Anderson triple-bogeyed the seventh hole Thursday. He bogeyed the eighth, and then the 10th. And all hopes for a Maine Amateur Championship disappeared.

Or so it seemed at the time. Anderson, however, saw it differently.

“I felt like I was going to win the whole back nine,” he said. “I felt like I was going to win the whole day, really. My confidence never really wavered.”

Anyone can say that, but few can back it up the way the 17-year-old did at the final round of the Maine Am on Thursday afternoon. Buried at the turn, Anderson put on a back-nine blitz, firing one dazzling shot after another and charging from six shots back on the 10th hole to a chance to pull even on the 18th green at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.

The pursuit fell short, as Anderson finished one shot back of defending champion Jack Wyman. But even as he clutched his second straight crystal trophy, Wyman acknowledged relief at holding off the threat he could feel building throughout the back nine.

“I definitely felt it,” he said. “Cole’s got a lot of firepower. He can fill them up in a hurry, making a lot of birdies.”

Anderson had mixed feelings after the round, showing pride in his run as well as regret over the start that necessitated it.

“I’m happy with how I played, (but) a little disappointed with the result,” he said. “I came here with one goal. I wanted to win.”

For the first two days, Anderson looked like a favorite — even the favorite — to do so, and he made an early move Thursday with an eagle on the par-5 sixth that put him at 5 under, one shot behind Wyman.

Suddenly, the roof gave in on the Florida State commit. Trouble began brewing when, from 163 yards out, he hit his approach over the seventh green, setting him up for a difficult chip back to a tight pin. Bad became bizarre when Anderson, a three-time Class A champion, four-putted, with three coming from inside 10 feet, to limp away from the green with a triple bogey and crippled chances moments after the galvanizing eagle.

“The second putt, I just bashed it through the break. I just hit it too hard,” he said. “The (third) putt I did the exact opposite, I didn’t hit it hard enough. … I just made a mess of that green.”

Three holes later, with two more bogeys on the card and Wyman showing no sign of faltering, the outlook was even bleaker. Anderson, however, kept his poise. He was running out of time, he knew, but he wasn’t out yet.

“You can’t really quit, especially on a course where a double can be made out of nowhere,” he said. “But you have to stay patient, and that’s something you learn over time playing in enough events, you figure out that you can’t quit. You can’t do it.”

He just needed a spark, and he got it on the par-5 12th, when he stuck his third shot a foot from the hole for an easy birdie.

“The third shot on 12 kicked him into gear,” caddy Alex Plummer said.

Suddenly, there was no stopping Anderson as he began an improbable comeback. He rolled in a 12-foot putt for birdie on 14, cutting his deficit to four shots. He drove to the apron around the 15th green and nearly holed the chip, settling for a birdie that put him three back. He made his best shot of the round on the par-5 16th, a stunning 2-iron after a long drive that put him 6 feet from the pin and resulted in a birdie to bring him within two.

“I knew I had to turn it on,” he said. “(I thought) ‘I have to start firing at flags, I can’t wait anymore. I’m running out of time.’ “

He ultimately did, though not without a final push. Both he and Wyman reached the 18th green in regulation with the gap still at two shots, but Wyman ran his first putt about 7 feet by the hole, setting up a potential bogey with Anderson putting for birdie. Anderson’s 10-footer trickled toward the cup, even grazing the hole, but stayed out, much to Anderson’s disbelief and Wyman’s relief.

“It hung right on the edge and lipped out,” he said. “I hit a great putt, there’s nothing you can really do about it, it just doesn’t drop.”

Though the charge fell short, Anderson took stock in breathing life back into a round that, midway through, looked unsalvageable. It demonstrated a poise that, even as a teenager, Anderson has shown he rarely loses.

“The kid has unbelievable spirit, incredible ability, a lot of fight,” Plummer said. “He never gives up. He’s so confident in what he can do on a golf course.”

Wyman saw it as well, never doubting that he was finished with Anderson even as his lead swelled.

“You can never count him out,” he said. “Cole is a very accomplished junior amateur golfer, and he’s going to have a great career ahead of him.”

And it’s a career that, however far it goes, Anderson showed he’ll have the mental toughness to handle.

“I felt like I started to make better swings as the pressure mounted and I got closer and closer,” he said. “It’s a good thing to take forward so next time I’m in this position I’ll be more comfortable.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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