SACO — While some of his top competitors faltered late in their rounds, defending champion Cole Anderson kept getting better and grabbed a three-stroke lead at the 101st Maine State Golf Association Amateur Championship.

Anderson, who started the day a stroke off the lead, shot a 4-under 67 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club during Wednesday’s afternoon segment, with a bogey-free round that featured back-to-back birdies on No. 6 and No. 7, which were his 15th and 16th holes.

“I hit 17 greens, so any time you hit 17 greens it’s a little more stress-free,” said Anderson, who missed three short birdie putts on his first nine holes. “On the back nine, I made a couple of better putts, but I hit it so good today.”

The Florida State University sophomore added, “I felt great today. I was there mentally the whole time. If anything, I felt I got a little better coming in.”

Six players are tied for second at 1-under, three of whom had a good chance to finish much lower.

Drew Powell, 22, of Holden (and Duke University) began the day as a co-leader and got to 5 under overall during his round in the morning session before he bogeyed four of his final five holes.

“I thought I was going to keep going. My goal was to get to 6 under, then I just went the other way,” Powell said. “It was just the loss of energy, honestly, and I was just kind of gassed. I don’t know if it’s the lack of competition recently or whatever, but I just didn’t have enough energy to keep it going.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of NCAA activities, college golfers lost nearly all of their primary competitive season this spring. For many of the top players in the field, the Maine Amateur is the first tournament-style golf of 2020, albeit with rules like having the pins stay in the hole at all times and no caddies allowed.

In the afternoon, as skies darkened and thunder rumbled in the distance, playing partners Caleb Manuel, 18, of Topsham (a UConn recruit) and Will Kannegeiser, 23, of Minot (Williams College) both took double-bogey on their final hole, the par-4 ninth. Manuel still finished at 3-under for the day, and Kannegeiser shot a 2-under 69.

Both are part of the logjam at 1 under.

“I was playing solid all day. We all kind of had a bad hole on the last hole,” Manuel said. “I just made one bad swing, but I’m happy I’m right there. I’m not going to dwell on it. Three-under 68? I’ll take that out here.”

Of Anderson’s three-stroke lead, Kannegeiser said, “He’s got a grip, but not a firm grip, especially if he makes a mistake. (Manuel) is playing great and he’s putted terribly, frankly. If he gets it going tomorrow, look out. The same with any one of us.”

Other who go into the final round at 1-under are 2015 champion Johnny Hayes, 30, of Portland, Mike Arsenault, 26, of Gorham and Tim Desmarais, 39, of Saco. Arsenault had the day’s best round with a 5-under 66. Desmarais shot a 68 and Hayes had a 69.

Anderson will be joined in the last group, scheduled to tee off at 10:34 a.m., by Arsenault and Powell because they were the first players to post their score at 1 under.

Arsenault is a former PGA club pro who worked at Val Halla and Dunegrass in Maine and also spent two summers as a pro in Chicago. Now an accountant, he regained his amateur status in 2019. His 66 in the morning session is the low round of the tournament.

“I just knew I had to kind of keep going after a 4-over (Tuesday), that I had to get to something (low) to give myself a chance,” Arsenault said.

Hayes, Kannegeiser and Manuel will tee off at 10:23 a.m. Desmarais, who grew up playing Biddeford-Saco, will be joined in the 10:12 group by Biddeford-Saco members Armand Ouellette and Brian Angis, who are tied for eighth at even par.

Powell’s fellow first-round leaders took slight steps back. Ouellette, 18, of Saco was 1-over on the day. Alex McGonagle, 20, of Portland (Methodist University) and Jon Humphrey, 29, of Presque Isle both shot 3-over 74 and are now at 2-over for the tournament.

Among the 44 players who made the cut at 150 was Jim Quinn, 72, of Farmingdale and Augusta Country Club, who shot his age to finish with a two-round score of 148.


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