Jesse Speirs of Bangor will play in his first tournament as a pro at a local U.S. Open qualifying event May 13 in Memphis, Tenn.

Speirs, 23, will graduate Saturday from the University of Mississippi with degree in religious studies and a minor in history.

The Maine Amateur champion had thought about staying in the amateur ranks for the summer and defending his state amateur title in July at Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor. But the more he thought about it, Speirs realized that he’s wanted to turn pro since he was a teenager. Why delay it?

“This is something I’ve been working towards,” he said. “Now it’s becoming a reality and I want to take it as far as I can. My game is good. I’m always working on things to improve. It’s been tough not playing in tournaments this spring.”

Speirs used up his college eligibility last spring. He had played two seasons at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth before transferring to Ole Miss, where he played two more.

“It’s been kind of slow this spring not playing in tournaments, but I’m still on scholarship,” he said. “I can use the college facilities and I’ve been playing the local courses.”

Speirs last played in a tournament on the Maine team with Ricky Jones and Joe Alvarez at the USGA State Team Championship last fall. Speirs’ plan after the Open qualifiers is to live in Fort Worth and play on the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series this summer and fall.

“The tournaments are in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma,” he said. “I can drive to all (of them).”

Speirs wouldn’t mind if his tournament schedule included a stop at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open in June. That would mean advancing through local and sectional qualifying. Speirs plans to sectional qualify, also in Memphis, if successful at the first stage.

“It’s an hour drive from school,” he said.

Speirs accomplished a goal of winning the Maine Amateur last summer at Martindale in Auburn. In two weeks, he’ll be teeing it up as a pro.

“It was pretty easy,” said Speirs of turning pro. “All I did was check off the box that said pro on the U.S. Open application. I feel really good about it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do with my life. I’ve got my degree. It’s great to finally get it started.”

 

TEE TO GREEN: The first Lake Region Open will be played June 19-20 at Bridgton Highlands and Naples Country Club. It’s a 36-hole stroke-play event with gross and net prizes. The tournament is sponsored by the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

“Scramble tournaments are fine, but we wanted to get back to the true nature of the game with a stroke-play tournament,” said Jim Mains, the chamber’s executive director. “We want the tournament to stress the true game of golf. The tournament is open to everyone. To be eligible for the net portion of the tournament, golfers must have a GHIN handicap.”

The tournament will rotate among four courses in the lakes region. Next year, the tournament will be played at Lake Kezar and Point Sebago. After that, the courses, Bridgton Highlands, Naples, Lake Kezar and Point Sebago, will be mixed and matched at venues.

Saturday’s opening round will time nicely with the Blues Festival in Naples on June 19.

“There will be plenty to do after golf,” said Mains.

The tournament has a limit of 120 players, but Mains doesn’t think that number will be reached in the first year.

“We would love to get 96 players. That would be ideal for the first year. We want to make sure we get all the players around the course. We don’t want any five-hour rounds,” said Mains.

Entry fee is $125 per player, which includes a cart. Entry forms can be picked up at the four participating courses, at the chamber office on Route 302 in Bridgton and at the Market Basket in Harrison. There will also be a link at www.mainelakeschamber.com. For details, call the chamber at 647-3472.

The seventh annual Cony Classic tournament will be played June 6 at Natanis in Vassalboro. The tournament will have a 10 a.m. shotgun start. The tournament benefits the Cony all-sports boosters. Entry fee is $75 per person and includes golf, cart, lunch and prizes. For more information, call 207-399-3260 or e-mail [email protected]

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]