Ruby Haylock, right, receives a hug from sister Jade after Ruby won the Maine Women’s Amateur in a playoff on Wednesday at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

MANCHESTER — Maybe someday, Ruby Haylock will pursue a career in medicine. The soon-to-be junior at Leavitt Area High School has a lot of time before she needs to make that decision, but she already has the nerves of a surgeon.

Haylock, 15, won the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship Wednesday afternoon at Augusta Country Club, beating 2018 winner Bailey Plourde on a playoff hole, making what for now is the shot of her young life. Haylock chipped in from just off the green for birdie on the playoff hole, hole 10.

What was Haylock thinking as she prepared for this chip shot?

She knew Plourde was already on the green and looking at a 25-foot birdie putt. Was she calculating the angle of her upcoming shot in her head, thinking she had to get close in case Plourde missed?

“I’m going to be honest with you. I walked up to that chip and I wasn’t really processing anything. I walked down the fairway thinking, ‘Wow, I need some Chapstick,'” Haylock said. “My parents said they saw me take out my 56 degree (wedge) and were like what the heck is she doing? She has so much better chance to make this (putting) than chipping it.”

When the shot bounced, rolled, and sank, the cheer from the gallery got to everybody except Haylock, who knew Plourde had the talent to make the putt and send the match to another hole.

“Bailey still had to putt hers, so I wasn’t sure if she could make that or not. I had a little bit of faith in her, actually,” Haylock said.

Haylock essentially struggled for three holes in the three-day tournament, the first three she played Monday morning. Haylock bogeyed each, and that accounted for her first day plus-3 76. Haylock took the tournament lead by playing even  73 Tuesday, and was plus-1 74 Wednesday. Haylock is not one of those players who is a human rain delay. She quickly lines up her shot and takes it. For Haylock, taking a shadow swing before selecting a club is as close to dilly-dallying as she gets.

Ruby Haylock holds a ball as she scopes out distance on a tee shot during the final round of Maine Women’s Amateur on Wednesday at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Even when she had to make the 10-foot putt for par on 18 and force the playoff, Haylock didn’t waste time before she took the putt and sank it.

“I don’t like to spend time thinking about my shot. I like to kind of get up to it, I’ll look at it a little bit, take whatever information I need, and I’ll hit it. If I think about it too much, then I tend to overthink,” Haylock said. “I don’t want to stress myself out. I do a pretty good job with those 10 foot putts. I could see it going in before I hit it.”

Even if it looks like she’s hurrying, Haylock assuredly is not. Take the first hole, for example. On Monday, Haylock bogeyed the hole. Tuesday, she earned par. Wednesday she saw the pin placement, to the right and center of the green, and knew how she’d attack. If she was off a little, she could end up in a bunker. Haylock’s approach from the left side of the fairway hit the rough hill between the bunker and the green and rolled three feet from the pin, where she sank the birdie putt to start her round.

“I wanted to stay just on the side of the green, so I didn’t mess with that bunker at all. Then I was like, ‘you know what? What are you going to lose? You putt it in the bunker, you chip up, and you hopefully make the putt,” she said. “It’s not a big deal. You can come back from it. You have 17 holes to recover. So I ended up going for it. I guess I got a lucky bounce.”

Haylock’s two-stroke lead to start the day evaporated on hole 8, when Plourde birdied and Haylock bogeyed to tie the match. Haylock regained the lead with a birdie on 11, and when she birdied the par-3 15th and Plourde bogeyed, Haylock had a four-stroke lead with three holes to play.

There would have been no shame in losing to the more experienced Plourde, who has three high school state championships, three seasons of college golf, and that Women’s Am victory two years ago at Rockland Golf Club to her credit. Experience counts, and Plourde used it down the stretch. Plourde’s birdies on 18 and 19, coupled with Haylock’s bogeyes on 16 and 17, put the onus on the younger golfer to come up big on 18.

“I completely forgot that I was up two strokes to begin with (at the start of the match), so I was comparing our score today and I was getting really down on myself,” Haylock said. “I knew I was doing well, but I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. I looked at my scorecard on hole 17. I ended up figuring out where I was, and it screwed with my head a little bit.”

That late round momentary lack of confidence was a blip, a passing cloud. It was nothing.

“I was thinking about how I did when I was 13. Tying for fourth, that’s pretty good for a 13-year old. (Rockland),” Haylock said. “When you’re 13, shooting high-70s, mid-80s, that’s not that great compared to what you can do now. If you can just keep your head on your shoulders, you’re OK.”

Even though she’s just 15, Haylock is a veteran in this tournament. She played her first Maine Women’s Am when she was “10 or 11.” she has no clear memories of it, or even where it was, just that it was a taste of competition. Two years ago when she was 13, Haylock placed fourth.

“I try not to be overconfident. My dad likes me to be extremely confident. If I tell myself, you can win. You’ve got this in the bag, then I don’t do as well. If I just think about, you’re going to go out, you’re going to play and try to do the best you can. If it’s not great, it’s fine. You have more years to go,” Haylock said.

Haylock will make more amazing shots. She will be a contender in many tournaments. Like she said, she has more years to go. Wednesday’s Maine Women’s Am win was just a sneak preview.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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