ROCKPORT — With so much recent rain, including downpours Monday night into the morning, much of the Samoset Resort Golf Course was in that moist area between spongy and squishy. Ducks lounged in standing water on the edge of the first fairway.

Still, those conditions were nowhere near enough to slow down the field Tuesday at the Maine Amateur Championship.

Ten golfers shot under par in the opening round of the three-day tournament, including two-time defending champion Caleb Manuel, who shares the lead with Tyler Baker at 4-under 67.

“That feels pretty good,” said Baker, 21, and a rising senior and member of the golf team at Endicott College. “I’ve never had this happen, so I want to keep my head down and keep playing good golf.”

A Mt. Ararat High grad playing out of Brunswick Golf Club, Manuel, 21,  is vying to be the first to win three Maine Amateur championships in a row since Mark Plummer did it from 2000-02.

Thomas Caron (Bangor Municipal Golf Club), Ron Kelton (Purpoodock Club), and Kevin Byrne (Waterville Country Club) sit one shot behind Manuel and Baker at 3-under 68. Andrew Slattery (Portland Country Club), the 2014 Maine Am winner, and John Hayes (Purpoodock Club), the 2015 champion, were at 2-under 69, along with Mitchell Tarrio (Natanis Golf Course).


“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Some spots are definitely wet, but that’s to be expected,” Caron said.

Manuel said the course was very playable, despite the heavy rain and wet spots.

“You really had to control how much you were spinning it back. I just got new wedges, so I had to hone it in a little bit,” Manuel said.

Manuel, who will be a senior on the University of Georgia golf team this fall, said he welcomes the pressure that comes with being the defending champion, and it helped him stay patient as he played even over the front nine.

“I think last year I didn’t welcome it, and I was kind of uncomfortable in the first round. Today I felt comfortable. I was walking slow and not letting anything stress me,” Manuel said.

There are three par 5’s on the back nine at Samoset, holes 12, 14, and 18. Manuel birdied all three, along with the par-4 16, to get to minus-4.


“Twelve you can gamble and get there, but 14 and 18, they’re reachable for me. I just tried to birdie those three coming in,” Manuel said.

A Falmouth resident who plays out of Portland Country Club, Baker played in the afternoon and played the back nine first. With five birdies and no bogeys, Baker made the turn at minus-5. He picked up three consecutive birdies on 14, 15, and 16.

“I just had taps ins all around. That was getting the momentum going,” Baker said.

Baker had a chance to take the lead outright on his final hole, but his short birdie putt lipped out and he settled for par.

“Slowest lip out I’ve seen in a while. But you can’t make them all,” Baker said.

Slattery rebounded from a tough start to finish strong. With a double bogey on 2 and a bogey on 3, Slattery was plus-3 after three holes.


“At that point, I figured I still had 50-something holes in front of me so just keep playing golf and see what happens. I made another bogey, but then I made a birdie. The more golf you play, the more you know to wait and see what happens,” Slattery said.

He birdied holes 4 and 7 before a run of four straight birdies starting on the 9th hole.

“I hit a couple irons close, and capitalized on the opportunities. I think only one of the putts out of those four (consecutive) birdies was over five feet. I hit some good shots right in a row and made it easy,” Slattery said.

Caron also finished well, with birdies on 16, 17 and 18 to get to minus-3. That came after a bogey on 14 had Caron even with four holes to play.

“I tried to put it behind me and finish strong,” Caron said.

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