Will Kannegieser celebrates after sinking a putt on the 18th hole against Joe Hamilton, right, in the final round of the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Championship on Thursday at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray. Kannegieser won the event for the second year in a row with a birdie on the second playoff hole. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

GRAY — For the second straight year, Will Kannegieser needed extra holes, but he again captured the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Championship.

Will Kannegieser successfully defended his title as the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Champion at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Kannegieser made a birdie putt on the 20th hole to finally put away Joe Hamilton in Thursday’s final at Spring Meadows Golf Club.

“It feels good. I knew it was going to be a battle in all of my matches, and I feel lucky to be able to execute the shots when I wanted to,” Kannegieser said. “To defend, it’s just a bonus.”

Last year, Kannegieser defeated Caleb Manuel in 22 holes at Point Sebago. He eliminated Manuel in the semifinals this year, on Wednesday.

The two finalists made pars on No. 1 to start the playoff. They were on opposite sides of the fairway on hole No. 2, with Kannegieser having 113 yards to the pin and Hamilton 111. Kannegieser’s shot landed 15 feet behind the pin, and Hamilton answered by sticking it 8 feet below the pin.

Kannegieser studied his birdie putt from all angles, then rolled it in and let out a roar.

Hamilton’s birdie putt to extend the match lipped out.

“I figured he was going to make it,” said Kannegieser, a Minot native and Portland Country Club member. “So I was happy to be able to push (the match potentially to another hole). When he hit (his putt), I walked to my bag because I thought it was in. It took a brutal lip.”

Missed putts were the story of the day for Hamilton, who is from Old Orchard Beach and plays out of Biddeford-Saco Country Club. There were a few times when he stuck his approach shot close to the hole, but ended up with a difficult putt because of the contours of the greens.

“Probably like four times today, I hit it a little closer than him, but I had the harder putt with a lot of movement,” Hamilton said. “He canned (all of his putts). I think that was the difference; he made three or four more putts than I did.”

Hamilton looked to have the advantage on the 15th hole, with the match all square. He reached the green on the par-5 with his second shot from 260 yards and gave himself a makeable eagle attempt. Kannegieser, like he did all week, laid up, and his third shot landed 40 feet from the pin. After missing his birdie attempt, Kannegieser conceded the hole and Hamilton went 1-up.

Even though Hamilton nearly holed out from the fairway on No. 7 – his ball bounced into the cup and out – he said his second shot at 15 was his best of the day.

Joe Hamilton looks to see where his ball ended up after he chipped onto the sixth green. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I had a flyer lie, and it was a little bit downwind and I said ‘Lets go, I am not going to play conservative to try to make pars. Lets go after it.’ I took the hardest swing all week and hit it dead center. It was the best shot I hit all tournament, really. It was pretty cool.”

Hamilton’s lead didn’t last long. On the par-3 16th hole, he found the greenside bunker, and his second shot went past the flag and rolled off the green. He made bogey, while Kannegieser two-putted for his par to even the match.

Joe Hamilton shares a laugh with opponent Will Kannegieser during Thursday’s championship match. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I was right in between clubs, and I took less club. I usually don’t do that,” Hamilton said of his tee shot. “I hit a crappy one. That’s OK, it is what it is.”

“He definitely gifted me one on 16 with that tee shot,” Kannegieser said. “When we got to 17, I knew it was anybody’s game.”

The duo made pars on the par-4 17th. On the par-4 18th, both players had long birdie opportunities but came up short. Kannegieser’s par putt gave him some info for the playoff.

“The two putts I rolled in, on 18 and the second playoff hole, were similar putts like breakwise,” Kannegieser said. “So, I felt confident if I hit similar putts, I can get them to go. I was lucky that they both went in.”

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