Cole Anderson watches his shot during the opening round of the Maine Event last year at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

There will be a new winner this year at the Maine Amateur Championship.

The Maine State Golf Association on Tuesday released the tee times for the first two rounds of the championship, being played July 13-15 at Kebo Valley Golf Club, and missing among the names was Cole Anderson, who after winning back-to-back Maine Am titles will instead be playing in the Southern Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi.

The choice to miss his home state’s amateur championship was a difficult one for Camden’s Anderson, who won by eight shots in 2019 and then six last year while starting his career at Florida State University.

“I’ve kind of been weighing it for a little while. (It’s) obviously not an easy decision, by any stretch,” he said. “There was a good part of me that wanted to go back and try to three-peat, but for what my goals are for the next few years, just from a big picture of my career aspirations, the opportunity arose to play the Southern Am … and it just makes more sense for me from a standpoint of strength of field, world ranking, all that kind of stuff.”

Anderson has spoken before about the value of a Maine Am title, and reiterated that point again Wednesday.

“I talked with a lot of people about it, and weighed the pros and cons of everything,” said Anderson, who is ranked 220th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. “It’s in no way an indication of how I feel about the Maine Am. It was just sort of one of those tough decisions.”

Anderson said he wrestled with the decision for a week leading up to the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island two weekends ago, but couldn’t pass up the chance to play in a tournament that includes among its past winners U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, British Open champion Justin Leonard, Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and Harris English, who finished third in the U.S. Open in June.

“There’s obviously probably a little more emotional value in the Maine Am for me than playing the Southern Am,” Anderson said. “But if there’s one thing that growing up in Maine and trying to play a high level of competitive golf taught me, it’s that you have to be a little cutthroat with it sometimes.”

 

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Dylan Rodrigue had played in two Maine Ams entering this season. A fine qualifying round made sure he’d be in a third.

Rodrigue, who lives in Litchfield and plays out of Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, punched his ticket to the championship in the June 10 qualifier at Biddeford-Saco Country Club by shooting a 2-over 73, earning him co-medalist honors.

Rodrigue, 28, also played in the 2016 and 2017 championships, but said it was an adjustment to get back into the setting of competitive golf.

“It’s been an uphill battle since then, so it felt good to finally get back into the field,” he said. “(I’ve been) just learning to play more tournaments and stuff, and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable with competition. It’s all in the growth process, I guess you could say.”

Rodrigue shot an 8-over 80 at last year’s qualifier and missed the cut, but he was all over the number this time. He made four bogeys and two birdies en route to the 73, which tied for the event’s best round with Joshua Trivilino out of York Golf and Tennis Club.

“It was just one of those things where you’re out there and you’re more in the moment,” he said, “and before you know it, you tally it up, you’ve made a couple of putts and there’s 73.”

Rodrigue said the round gives him a lift heading into the week.

“A score like that was definitely something that was crucial for me, especially with confidence going into a tournament like this,” he said. “However the outcome happens, it is what it is.”

 

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A total of 132 players will compete in the Maine Am next week. Few made it in more dramatically than Matt Brewer did.

Brewer, a math teacher at Boothbay Regional High School and former teacher at Cony Middle School, qualified with a 5-over 76, taking a dramatic route to that result. He birdied the 17th hole and then eagled the 18th at Bangor Municipal Golf Course on June 17, allowing him to make the cut by two strokes.

“I’m definitely pumped,” said Brewer, 36, who lives in Wiscasset and will be playing in his first Maine Am. “That was pretty cool. … I’m definitely excited, but I was prepared to do it.”

Brewer knew on the back nine that he needed to go lower to make the cut, and when a pair of birdies slipped away on the 15th and 16th holes, he thought he was running out of time. But he made a 10-foot birdie putt on 17, meaning he just needed a birdie on the par-5 18th.

“I was super excited,” he said. “Whether I did it or didn’t, I was so proud to be in that position.”

He got the shot of the day when he needed it most, sticking a 5 hybrid two feet from the cup and essentially clinching a trip to Kebo Valley.

“Now that I’m there, I’m trying to make the third day and be competitive,” he said. “I’m definitely capable of it.”

 

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Maine Central Institute’s Owen Moore was second in the Class B individual tournament as a freshman in the fall. The summer leading up to his sophomore year is going well, too.

Maine Central Institute’s Owen Moore watches his putt during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships last fall at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Moore won a Maine Jr. PGA event at Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel on June 22, shooting an even par 72 to finish first in a field of 24 players in the boys 16-18 division by two strokes.

“It was a great round. I was hitting my driver and irons very well,” Moore said. “It was a bit of a surprise shooting such a low score like that in a tournament, but during the summer at my home course I had been shooting around that score consistently.”

Moore said he was pleased by how he measured up to older and bigger players.

“I had just moved up to the 15-18 age group, so I was one of the younger players,” he said. “Winning that built a lot of confidence in me, knowing that I can play with the older kids during competition.”

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