CAPE ELIZABETH — If John Hayes IV feels any home-course advantage playing the Maine Amateur Championship this week at the Purpoodock Club, it wasn’t apparent at the start of his round Wednesday at noon.

Hayes started his round on hole No. 10, then bogeyed Nos. 11, 12, and 13 to see his 3 under on day one evaporate in the July heat. Hayes didn’t find his rhythm until No. 16, the 500-yard par-5 Arnold Palmer famously eagled on three consecutive days to win the Unionmutual Senior Classic in 1986. Hayes did his best Arnie impression, earning an eagle with a 6-foot putt.

From there, Hayes made birdies on five of his final nine holes, finishing his round with a 4-under 67. Playing on his home course, Hayes is at 7 under and takes a two-shot lead over Eli Spaulding into Thursday’s final round.

“I started off the round 3 over, so to come back and shoot 7 under (for the tournament), it’s a good day,” said Hayes, who won the Maine Am in 2015 at Waterville Country Club. “I’m excited. It will be fun. I’m playing for the membership, really. Everyone’s been involved and it’s been great to see.”

Ron Kelton, also a Purpoodock member and runner-up last year at Samoset, and Mike Arsenault of Val Halla, are tied for third at even-par 142 entering Thursday’s final round.

With temperatures in the 80s with high humidity throughout the afternoon, staying hydrated was essential, said Spaulding and Kelton.


“The first nine holes were kind of a grind. It was scraping together some pars and narrowly missing some birdies,” said Spaulding, who won his third straight Class B state title last year for Freeport and will join the golf team at Loyola University of Maryland this fall. “Going into the back, I decided to get a little more aggressive and start firing at pins a little more.”

Eli Spaulding watches his ball on No. 13 during the second day of the Maine Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Spaulding began the day tied with Hayes at 3 under, and played even par over the front nine. He earned his first birdie on 13, following it up with two more on 14 and 16 before a bogey on 17 left him at 2 under for the day and 5 under for the tournament.

“It was a little different to play today in the afternoon. Everything felt a little softer yesterday. It was kind of adjusting to firmer greens. drinking lots of water and fighting the heat,” Spaulding said. “Today especially, hitting fairways off the tee was really helpful, because some of these greens were getting firmer, and it can get harder to spin it out of the rough.”

For Spaulding, 18 and playing in his fifth Maine Am, Thursday will be the first appearance in the final group.

“It’s definitely exciting. It’s a really good opportunity to have a chance, two shots back, competing for the Maine Am trophy tomorrow,” Spaulding said. “I haven’t really made too many mistakes over the last 36 holes, and it’s the same goal. Stay consistent and give myself good looks.”

Like Hayes, Kelton played the back nine first Wednesday. Kelton began the day at 1 under, but bogeys on  Nos. 11 and 15 were a setback, he said. Kelton said he started drinking more water, and it helped. He birdied Nos. 16, 17, and 18 to finish his first nine holes strong, then sank another birdie on No. 1. Kelton bogeyed three of his final five holes, however, to finish the day 1 over and at even par for the tournament.


“It was a battle today. I don’t know if it was the heat, but I didn’t really play well starting off,” Kelton said. “Just coming down the stretch, I got a couple bad breaks… At this time (of day), the greens get really grainy. If there’s anything soft, it’s going to take the ball with it.”

Kelton said he expects to play more aggressively in Thursday’s final round.

Ron Kelton lines up a putt on No. 13 during the second day of the Maine Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“I’m behind, but I’m all right. I grew up here. I know what I can shoot on any given day. I don’t have the pressure on me, so that’s nice,” Kelton said.

The heat didn’t affect Hayes, who birdied five of his final nine holes, including back-to-back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7, 8, and 9 to complete his round. With the hole in the middle of the green sloping back toward the fairway on No. 7, Hayes landed his approach shot just two feet from the pin.

“A super sketchy putt, because as you can tell the green is sideways, basically. I had to hit it firm and just trust the line, and luckily it went in,” Hayes said.

The eagle on No. 16 was the result of what Hayes called his “best drive of the week so far,” followed by a pitching wedge shot that set him 6 feet from the hole for the eagle putt. As a member, Hayes is intimately familiar with the Purpoodock course. No pins were placed in a spot that surprised him, Hayes said.

“Typically, the pins are in some crazy positions, but just for the tournament’s sake and pace of play they’re in pretty mellow locations,” he said.

The winner of this year’s Maine Am earns a spot in the field at the U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be Aug. 12-18 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

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