AUBURN — Drew Powell recently graduated from Duke University and the putt he made on the 21st hole would have had the Cameron Crazies — the student section at Duke Blue Devils basketball games — jump up and down.

Powell, who played for the Blue Devils’ golf team, drained a birdie putt that was at least 25 feet on the par-3 third hole at Fox Ridge – the third playoff hole — to defeat Tim Desmarais (Deep Brook Golf Course) in the semifinals at the Maine State Golf Association’s Match Play Invitational on Wednesday.

“I got a little lucky because I had that putt earlier against him when we were playing in regulation,” Powell said. “I sort of knew what was going to happen, it wasn’t going to break as much as I thought and it was relatively slow. I hit a good putt.”

Desmarais forced a playoff by winning the 18th hole with a par putt. He employed some gamesmanship by calling the referee over to ask if Powell or himself was further away. Powell was further away and he just missed his par putt, which would have won the match.

“If I had to go first, it’s a different story. If he goes first and makes it, (the match is) over and I don’t have to worry about putting,” Desmarais said. “Once he missed, the door is opened and it’s like, ‘Ok, laser in and focus.’ I felt comfortable with that putt and made it, which was huge.”

On the first playoff hole, the official was brought in again in a similar situation.

In regulation, Powell of Penobscot Valley Country Club took a 2-up lead by winning the fourth and sixth holes, before the match turned on the par-5 ninth hole. Powell overpowered his eagle attempt past the hole and couldn’t convert his birdie putt. He conceded the hole after making par since Desmarais knocked his second shot in close to the pin.

From the ninth fairway, Powell had the advantage with a short-iron compared to a hybrid for Desmarais.

“That was probably one of the better swings I had today,” Desmarais said. “That 5-hybrid never left the flagstick. I was 50-60 yards behind him and at that point, I was down two, you have to do something and luckily I got that one over the water which got me the ‘W’ (on that hole).”

Desmarais picked up the 10th when Powell’s putter betrayed him again, with his birdie attempt running seven feet past. Powell missed the par attempt.

Powell had issues reading Fox Ridge’s greens all day.

“I had been leaving (putts) short all day and on 10 (the putt) looked uphill so I will hit this one pretty hard and that went zooming by,” Powell said. “The next one, went zooming by. I was like, ‘Are all these putts going by fast today?’”

Powell bounced back on the par-5 11th hole to regain the 1-up advantage, but the match was tied again when he came up short on the short downhill par-3 13th hole and conceded after missing a long par attempt.

“It’s a short par 3, so you aren’t used to hitting a 60-degree (wedge) from the tee. I just totally (mishit it),” Powell said. “I had gone long on that hole the first three rounds so I told myself I wanted to stay pin-high at least. I probably deaccelerated or didn’t finish my turn. Yeah, bad swing. That gave him a hole right there.”

Powell bounced back with a par on 14 for another 1-up lead, but Desmarais won the 15th hole before Powell regained a 1-up advantage on the 16th hole.

In Thursday’s final, Powell will take on Jeff Cole of Brunswick Golf Club, who defeated Joey Alvarez (Biddeford-Saco) in the other semifinal 6 and 5.

On the fourth tee, Cole was 1-down — he lost the first hole — but ended up winning eight of the final 10 holes of the match.

“I had a couple of good breaks, I had a chip-in fall in on (the seventh hole),” Cole said. “That was big, anytime you chip-in in match play it’s big. I just tried to make pars every hole.”

What helped him get a big lead was three birdies on the final three holes of the front nine.

The pars came on the back nine with four straight — three to win a hole — with the match ending on the 13th hole.

Cole didn’t realize he was building an insurmountable lead against Alvarez.

“I wasn’t trying to think about it, every hole is a new hole,” Cole said. “I was trying to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid or give a hole away with something unnecessary. I didn’t know at the time I had won that many holes in a row.”

Alvarez reached the semifinals by defeating Fox Ridge’s Craig Chapman in the quarterfinals 5 and 4.

After Alvarez won the first hole, Chapman tied the match on the par-3 fifth hole. Alvarez dunked his tee shot into the pond and then dunked two more from the drop area. Chapman’s tee shot found the penalty area beside the green but conceded the hole after his second shot from the drop area.

“My ball did (go in the hazard), it crossed and went back into the water,” Chapman said. “He already hit a few in the (pond) so we decided to move on. It was an opening I needed and I didn’t take advantage of it.”

The match didn’t remain tied long, with errant tee shots from Chapman on No. 6 and No. 7, which led to a 2-up lead for Alvarez.

Chapman’s struggles continued, losing No. 8, but he nearly won No. 9 as his 7-foot birdie putt lipped out. Alvarez’s lead went to 4-up with a birdie on the 11th hole and ended the match on the 14th hole with a birdie.

“I just got too far down on nine and 10,” Chapman said. “I was playing a little better toward the end but it was too little, too late.”

In the other quarterfinal matches, Powell defeated Armond Ouellette (Biddeford-Saco) 4 and 3, Desmarais defeated Luke Ruffing (Belgrade Lakes) 4 and 3, while Cole defeated Ryan Gay (Augusta Country Club) 2 and 1.


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