ROCKLAND — On the final holes of the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship, Bailey Plourde was unaware of her swelling lead. Plourde was aware of the butterflies in her stomach, and she needed to stay calm. Even so, she bogeyed hole 17, and Plourde’s tee shot on the 125-yard, par-3 18 ended up behind a bush just off the putting green, approximately 65 yards to the right of the 18th green.

“My confidence was really good on the front. I just had to keep calm and play my own game. On the back, the last two holes were a little tough,” Plourde said. She wiped away tears of joy as she spoke. “I tried to keep the nerves down because I’ve never been in that position before. I’ve always been behind going into the last couple holes.”

Tournament runner-up the last two years, Plourde, 18, was dominant early in Wednesday’s final round, and rode that momentum to her first Maine Women’s Amateur championship, at Rockland Golf Club.

Tournament winner Bailey Plourde plays during the Maine Women’s Amateur on Wednesday at the Rockland Golf Club in Rockland.

A Lincoln Academy graduate, Plourde won high school state titles in 2015 and 2016.

“I grew up on this course. Definitely, it’s special,” Plourde said.

The final round was played in a steady mist and wind. Even with Plourde’s struggles over the final two holes, the back nine of Wednesday’s final round had less drama than a Three Stooges film festival. Plourde led by five strokes at the turn, and led by as much as six strokes. While Plourde’s bogey on 17 and double bogey on 18 tightened the final result, the tourney finish was never in doubt. Plourde finished the three-day tournament at plus-13 232, three strokes ahead of 17-year old runner-up Jordan Laplume, who began the day with a one-stroke lead over Plourde.

“(Plourde) played unbelievable. It was hard to come back from that,” Laplume said.

Plourde tied Laplume for the lead on the second hole, which she parred while Laplume bogeyed. Plourde took the lead for good on the fourth hole, when Laplume had a rough experience, which later drew some laughs. After all, when you hit a tee shot into a pine tree, what else can you do?

“That was interesting. That was just kind of how my day went,” Laplume said. “I knew I didn’t hit it well and thought it might have carried the tree, but I saw it go right in the tree. My dad (George Laplume, her caddie) was like ‘Whoa!’ We were walking closer and I was like, ‘What?'”

Laplume’s tee shot went right of the fairway and was stuck two feet off the ground in the large pine. Laplume consulted with a rules official and was told she could take a penalty stroke, or play it. Laplume played it, hitting the ball almost baseball style to get it on the fairway.

“I would rather have just punched it out than took a penalty stroke,” Laplume said.

Laplume double-bogeyed the hole and Plourde took par. The lead stood at two strokes.

“Being up two after that hole, I felt good after that. I knew (Laplume) could’ve come back any time. I could have a double (bogey) and she could par and we’d be right back even again,” Plourde said. “I wasn’t trying to focus on what she was shooting, only on what I was shooting.”

Plourde then birdied the fifth hole, but was unaware her lead swelled to five strokes.

“We were purposely making sure we didn’t know where we were,” said Hans Stromberg, Plourde’s boyfriend and caddie for the tournament. “We were trying to focus on our game, on her shots, not worried about anybody else.”

As Plourde played the back nine, Stromberg was as much a therapist as a caddie.

“We didn’t talk about it at all. He just kept saying ‘You’re good, you’re good.’ Every shot, ‘Stay confident. You’re good,'” said Plourde, who will golf at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Added Stromberg: “I was just trying to keep her calm. She was just solid all around. She didn’t putt very well (Tuesday), but we went to the practice green yesterday and got it worked out. She started playing well today. It wasn’t her best golf, but she played the golf she needed to win.”

Erin Holmes tees off into a mist on the second hole during the final round of the Maine Women’s Amateur on Wednesday at the Rockland Golf Club in Rockland.

It was around the 15th hole — the course’s longest at 524 yards — when Plourde realized she was well in control of the tournament.

Plourde was earned junior champion honors in each of the last four years at the tournament. She finished runner-up to Staci Creech in the last two. Creech moved to Colorado last spring, opening the door to the talented group of younger players, led by Plourde. Four of the top five finishers in the tournament were teenagers.

“I’m always the one who puts pressure on myself. I wanted this one really bad. I don’t know if I was the favorite or not, but I really wanted this one,” Plourde said.

For Laplume, who will play golf at Merrimack College (North Andover, Massachusetts) in the fall, the tournament was a learning experience.

“I lost my swing a little bit on the front nine. I wasn’t trusting it, and I should have. I need to go in confident and trust my swing after all that,” Laplume said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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