FALMOUTH — Shawn Warren, an assistant pro at the Falmouth Country Club, site of the Charlie’s Maine Open over the next two days, played the course for the first time in a week Sunday and noticed a different layout.

“The course has really firmed up,” said Warren. “I can’t believe how it’s changed in one week.”

Recent hot and sunny weather has rounded the course into tournament shape, which is just what the Maine State Golf Association wanted.

Pros and amateurs got a look at the course in Monday’s pro-am. Like Warren, they found a course in excellent condition with firm and fast greens, but still lush fairways.

With 140 players in the field, the tournament, the 93rd overall, gets under way today. The tournament is 36 holes with the final round Wednesday.

The field is stocked with a number of potential winners. Dustin Cone of Port St. Lucie, Fla., is back to defend his title.

Cone will be in the first group off No. 1 at 7 a.m. with two amateur standouts, Ricky Jones and Ryan Gay.

Jones won the tournament in 2006.

Warren, who won in 2004 as an amateur, has a 7:20 tee time, also off the first tee, with Mark Plummer and Andrew Giuliani of New York. Giuliani is the son of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate.

Rob Roylance, a former Old Orchard Beach High golfer and now a pro, finished second in last year’s tournament.

Warren, playing as well as any club pro in New England, is a favorite on a course he knows well.

Earlier this month, he shot 73-70 in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier in New Jersey. While he missed getting into the just concluded Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., he felt the experience was invaluable.

“We played a couple of tough courses,” he said. “My game is in good shape and I’m looking forward to the next two days.”

Warren said Falmouth will offer a strong test for the field.

With back tee placements, the course can be lengthened to make it a challenge to the top players in the field.

Better players like a tougher course because they feel it separates them from the rest of the field.

The winning score likely won’t be in double digits under par like in past opens. Three or four under might be enough to win the tournament.

Randy Hodsdon, the MSGA tournament director, said the course will be set up fairly. A former head pro at Falmouth, Hodsdon knows where the fair pin placements on the greens are.

In addition to the regular tournament purse, there will be divisions for Maine pros, amateurs, and senior pros and amateurs.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH