ROCKPORT — Caleb Manuel was far from perfect Wednesday during the second round of the Maine Amateur Championship, but he was good enough to maintain his tight lead heading into the final day.

The two-time defending Maine Am champ carded a 3-under 68 Wednesday to hold a two-shot lead over Tyler Baker heading into final round Thursday at the Samoset Resort Golf Course. Manuel, 21, a Mt. Ararat High School graduate and a senior at the University of Georgia, sits at 7-under 135 after two rounds. Baker, 21, who is a member of the golf team at Endicott College, shot a 1-over 70 on Wednesday to stay in the hunt.

“I felt solid,” said Manuel. “I made a few mistakes, kind of up and down. And then I made some birdies and an eagle. I was all over the place; there were a lot of emotions. But I felt solid (Wednesday), I hit it pretty good.”

Ron Kelton shot an even-par 71 Wednesday and is four shots behind Manuel at 3-under 139. Kelton is tied with Andrew Slattery of Portland Country Club, who shot a 1-under 70 Wednesday.

Manuel started his day on the back nine and ran into some early troubles, making bogeys on holes 15 and 17. But he wrapped up his first nine holes with his best shot of the day, a 20-foot putt, including a four-foot break to the left, to make eagle for a 3-under 34 at the turn.

“(The eagle) felt good,” Manuel said. “I was obviously trying to make birdie there and on 17, try to get on the right side (of par) after the two bogeys. After I got that, there was a lot of momentum going into the front nine.”


But then Manuel found more trouble on the front nine, making a double-bogey at No. 3, a par-three hole engulfed by the picturesque rocky coast and ocean. Manuel’s drive went left and into the beach. After taking a drop, he then chipped up on the green before two-putting for a five. Manuel also bogeyed No. 6, but he also made three birdies on the front nine to stay in control.

By late afternoon, only five players remained under par for the tournament. While conditions were nearly perfect — temperatures were in the low 80s with a nice sea breeze — the course was still soggy in several areas after days of rain earlier in the week.

Staying away from the course’s water hazards was also pivotal, golfers said.

Ron Kelton swings from the second tee during second round of the Maine Amateur Wednesday at the Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“A lot of water balls out there over the two days,” said Mitchell Tarrio, who was tied for fourth at 1-under 141, after shooting a 1-over 72 on Wednesday. “Avoiding the water hazards is big; there’s a lot of water off of (No. 1). That par three (hole on No. 3) is a tough hole, especially with that green on the left side.”

Earlier in the day, Baker shot a 35 on the front nine, which included two bogeys, but managed to sink two birdie putts on the back nine to round out the day. Baker shot a 4-under 67 during the first round on Tuesday.

“It’s a grind out there,” said Baker. “I made a nice little putt on 18 to get to 1 under, which was nice. It’s really reassuring (going into the final round). A couple (years) ago, I went 80-67 (for rounds). To go 67-70, that’s just a confidence booster to know I’m consistent enough to keep doing it.”


Like Manuel, Kelton — a member of the Purpoodock Club of Cape Elizabeth — experienced highs and lows during his second round, shooting an even-par 71. Kelton had five bogeys during his round, including three on the front nine, but also had five birdies.

“I’m not as long (off the tee) as these guys, so it’s a different (approach),” Kelton said. “(Hitting) fairways and greens (has been key). I don’t put myself in trouble. (On Tuesday), I just (hit par) on the first 13 holes. I was getting a little impatient, but three birdies hopped in there in the end.”

Slattery had a bogey and double-bogey on the front nine but made up for it with three birdies. He stayed steady on the back nine, making pars, along with one birdie, to reach 70.

“I’m very happy with how today went,” Slattery said. “Didn’t make a lot of putts, just kind of grinded it out, kept playing golf and a couple went in toward the end. I’m very happy.”

The final 40 golfers, including those that are tied, will play in the final round on Thursday.

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