Caleb Manuel of Topsham watches his approach shot from the fairway on the 10th hole during the first round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

FALMOUTH — Caleb Manuel needed a mentor Thursday. Shawn Warren was the perfect guy for the job.

Manuel played alongside Warren, the local pro playing on his home course, during the opening round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club. At 19, Manuel is the youngest player in the Korn Ferry Tour event and one of just two amateurs in the field.

Manuel is one of the most accomplished young golfers in the state, winning high school state championships at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham and the Maine Junior Amateur title last summer. On Monday, he shot a 66 at The Ledges Golf Club in York to earn a spot in the Live and Work in Maine Open.

But this is his first professional tournament, and it showed from the start on Thursday.

The two Mainers began their first round on the 10th hole, along with pro Gunner Wiebe of Los Angeles, with a crowd of about 100 watching. Manuel’s first shot of the day was pulled into the rough left of the fairway, and he finished the par-4 hole with a triple bogey. After three consecutive pars, Manuel struggled over the next five holes, with double bogeys on 14 and 17, triple bogeys on 15 and 16 and a bogey on 18.

Manuel’s body language told the tale of his first nine holes. His shoulders were slumped and his head was down. He flailed his right arm in frustration after a bad shot.

But Warren, 36, a teaching pro at Falmouth Country Club, let the newcomer know it was all right. Warren, who played in the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2020, has been there.

“I look at it now, and I was telling Caleb this earlier, this is fun. This is what it’s about. This is what you need to enjoy,” Warren said afterward.

“Added pressure is something you create yourself. I think today, everybody who was out following him especially, was out here to support him. For a kid that age, to have a crowd like that supporting him and cheering him on every single shot, it’s a tribute to what a good kid he is, what a good guy he is. He’s a hell of a player, and I think today he’ll take away that experience.”

Shawn Warren places his ball before putting on the 10th hole during the first round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Manuel composed himself on the final nine, shooting even-par 35 with birdies on the third and sixth holes. In all, he shot a 14-over 85 to place near the bottom of the field of 156 golfers.

“Obviously it didn’t go as planned on the front nine. I was a little tense out there,” Manuel said. “I kind of calmed down on the back nine. Hopefully I can play like I did on the back nine (Friday).

“Shawn’s a pretty good role model, and he’s been telling me this tournament doesn’t really matter. ‘You’re not a pro.’ It was nice to have wise words coming from a veteran out here.”

No player in the field knows Falmouth Country Club as well as Warren, who admitted he felt a little home-course advantage while shooting a 2-under 69.

That was especially true on the par-5 17th hole, where Warren knew that facing a second shot 250 yards from the pin, he could play it halfway rather than go for the green and still make birdie, which he did, for his first birdie of the round and the first of three birdies in four holes. Still, there were times the pin placements made him pause, such as the eighth hole, where Warren took a bogey.

“My caddy and I were talking. We looked at a few of the flags out there, ‘I’ve never seen this flag.’ For us to have to double-check at our home course, I mean, I’ve played this place a thousand times, and to not know which way a putt goes is pretty rare for me,” Warren said. “It wasn’t playing easy out there, that’s for sure. I hit a couple wayward ones over the course of (the round), but I was able to salvage (69).”

Manuel and Warren tee off together again at 1:40 p.m. Friday. Warren has a shot to make the cut. Manuel will look to build off Thursday’s solid back nine, learn from this experience and keep the goal simple. Have fun.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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