Bailey Plourde drinks some water on the 10th hole during the second round of the Maine Women’s Amateur on Tuesday at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

MANCHESTER — It was hot Tuesday at the Augusta Country Club for the second round of the Maine Women’s Amateur championship golf tournament, but after Monday it felt quite refreshing.

Monday was one of those rare summer days in Maine that feel imported from Louisiana. Standing next to a pizza oven in August hot. Diabolically hot.

“I mean, after the first hole, you could just feel the sweat dripping down you,” said Rachel Smith, the 2018 high school state champion from Greely High School. Smith shot 78 in each of her first two rounds to earn a spot in the final group in Wednesday’s final round, along with leader Ruby Haylock and 2018 champion Bailey Plourde.

By late morning Monday, the heat index made it feel in the mid-90s, The dew point in the low 70s made the air feel drinkable. Tuesday afternoon, the dew point dropped to 63. Still sticky, but not the bayou of Monday. Like the difference between sleeping on a bed of nails or a bed of rocks.

“I try to not blame it on the conditions, but it definitely did play an effect,” Smith said of playing Monday. “(Tuesday), we had the nice breeze, which is great for the heat aspect of it, but not great for the game. Overall, weather-wise, it was a lot better today.”

The breeze at Augusta Country Club on Tuesday was like an unexpected gift. There was some breeze Monday, but it didn’t matter. All it did Monday was blow hot air around the golf course. It was that whoosh of warmth that comes with opening an oven door, over and over. Tuesday’s breeze sometimes willed itself into a wind, and that was more problematic for the players than Monday’s hot air.

“The breeze definitely helped with the heat a lot, but the ball flight was a little iffy here and there. If you hit a perfect shot, sometimes it could be a little off,” Haylock, a rising junior at Leavitt High said after shooting her second round 73 to take a two-stroke lead over Plourde heading into Wednesday’s final round.

By late morning Monday, the heat index made it feel like the temperature was in the mid-90s at Augusta Country Club. The dew point was in the low 70s Monday. It was that oppressive, sticky heat that feels like a warm wet blanket has been thrown over everything.

There is little shade on the course, and what shade there is typically does the players no good. They spend their time out on the fairways and greens, out of distance of whatever minor relief most shade provides around the periphery.

Playing one group apart Monday, Smith and Haylock crossed paths around hole 14. Each was in one of the first groups on the course, but it didn’t matter.

“We met up on 14, and we were like, this is ridiculous,” Smith said. “We thought we’d beat the heat, but nope… I’ve had a couple days (like Monday) but just for fun. You play 15 (holes) and call it good because you’re dying.”

Golf fans keep cool sitting in the shade while watching the second round of the Maine Women’s Amateur on Tuesday at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

It’s a testament to the will of the players that scores did not skyrocket higher than the temperatures Monday. Of the six players who posted the best scores in the opening round, only Plourde and Smith shot worse scores on the back nine as temperatures rose.

With no caddies allowed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some players like Plourde and Haylock carried their own bags. After Monday’s round, Plourde admitted that her clubs got heavier as her round continued. Late in Tuesday’s round, fellow player Kristin Kannegieser pitched Plourde on the virtues of a push cart for her bag. Plourde appeared to give the idea consideration.

“It’s definitely hard to keep yourself mentally stable, especially in the heat. I’ve struggled with keeping my mind positive to try and stay on top of things, but the heat definitely contributed to the challenge,” Haylock said.

Wednesday’s forecast at Augusta Country Club calls for sun and clouds and temps in the high 70s. Monday’s heat tested players physically. Tuesday’s wind gusts tested them mentally. It’s going to take locusts to rattle the field Wednesday.

Central Maine doesn’t get locusts, does it?

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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