BAR HARBOR — Wayne Dorr remembers the day Caleb Manuel was born. A former colleague of Caleb’s father, Patrick, in the Wiscasset school department, Dorr also remembers Caleb’s first driving practice. Caleb was 4, hitting 50 balls into the ocean at his grandfather’s cottage.

“We’d talk about hitting the same spot every time into the ripple of the last one,” Dorr said.

Thursday afternoon, those ripples extended 15 years. With Dorr as his caddie, 19-year old Caleb Manuel played a bogey-free round at Kebo Valley Golf Course to win the 102nd Maine Amateur Championship.

“This tournament always has been something special to play in. I was pretty nervous this morning, and I wasn’t hitting it as well as I wanted to going into today, but today I played my normal game,” said Manuel, who recently completed an all-Big East season as a freshman on the University of Connecticut golf team. “We play a lot of golf together and (Dorr) knows my game. He’s (caddied) in years past, so I just thought it was fitting I finally got it done. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Manuel finished at 1-over 211 for the three-day tournament to edge Will Kannegieser by one stroke. Joe Alvarez, who entered the final round in a three-way tie with Manuel and Kannegieser, tied for third with Alex McGonagle at 6-over.

Manuel was 2-under 68 on Thursday, matching the score he posted in the first round Tuesday. It was a rebound from Wednesday’s 75, played in wind and mist. The sun came out Thursday, and scores came down with it.

Seven players broke par in the final round after no one did on Wednesday.

Manuel said he was nervous when he woke up Thursday morning, but it didn’t show in a round defined by its consistency. Manuel had just two birdies – on the par-4 seventh and again on the par-5 14th – but he avoided the trouble he encountered in his first two rounds.

“That’s kind of the plan when you’re in the lead, but I wasn’t really in the lead the whole day. A clean card is always good. It’s a lot less stress when you’re out there making a lot of pars and dropping a birdie here and there,” Manuel said.

Caleb Manuel hits a shot on eighth fairway as caddy Wayne Dorr watches during the final round of the Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday at Kebo Valley Golf Course in Bar Harbor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The birdie on No. 7 pulled Manuel even with Alvarez for the lead. Manuel took the lead for good on the par-3 ninth. Alvarez’s tee shot pulled left, landing on the edge of the stream flowing by the green. He was forced to go barefoot and stand with his right foot in the water, and his chip still didn’t reach the green. While Alvarez wound up with a double bogey, Manuel made par to take a two-stroke lead over Alvarez and Kannegieser.

Knowing he had the lead, Manuel said he continued to play aggressively, trying to make birdies. When he and Kannegieser both birdied the 535-yard 14th, Manuel reined himself in.

“Coast my way in from there,” he said.

Kannegieser birdied No. 10 to pull within a shot of Manuel, but was still a shot down when they reached 16. Kannegieser’s tee shot went right of the fairway, hitting the nearby road and bouncing back into heavy rough. While he was able to make par there, a bogey on 17 dropped Kannegieser two shots off the lead.

“I hadn’t gone for it all week. I actually miscounted the score. I thought we were even (on 16) and I wanted to put a little pressure on him knowing I was going first,” Kannegieser said. “Turns out, I was one behind him, but I think it was the right decision. I hit a poor shot. I wasn’t really committed to it and got a huge break. I should’ve been out.”

Manuel’s approach on 17 landed a few feet from the pin. As Kannegieser’s approach sailed the green and his chip rolled to the fringe at the far end, Manuel knew he could two-putt and add a stroke to his lead.

“I’ve seen that pin there before, and I know you can’t be above it. I was above it, but just enough so it wasn’t unfair. Once (Kannegieser) made bogey there, I knew I just had to get it down there. I misread it a little bit but had good speed on it and it was an easy four,” Manuel said.

Kannegieser birdied 18, but with Manuel playing it safe, that just reduced the final margin of victory.

“(Manuel) hit so many good shots. Even on the first two days, when he would make mistakes he would recover so well. I just knew he was going to be hard to beat and hard to catch. I did everything I could to keep with him, and I think I did a good job of that,” Kannegieser said.

Will Kannegieser kicks at his club after attempting a long putt on the 17th green during the final round of the Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday at Kebo Valley Golf Course in Bar Harbor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

A retired educator, Dorr knew his job was less to offer Manuel advice from hole to hole, and more to be a listener. It’s exactly what the former junior state champion needed.

“He’s pretty unflappable,” Dorr said. He doesn’t get rattled. He takes what the game gives him. He knows how to manage. Something awry happens, he knows in this game it does happen and it doesn’t get him wound up or emotional. He’s one of the calmest people I’ve ever golfed with. He’s a great kid to be with because he’s so unpretentious.”

“We talked about random stuff. The Maine Am’s not on the line; it’s just another round of golf,” Manuel added.

A round of golf that ended with a championship.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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