FALMOUTH — Leslie Guenther already has three Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association championships, and is well on her way to another after shooting a 75 in the opening round of this year’s tournament Tuesday at The Woodlands.

Guenther, the defending champion, shot a 1-under 35 on the back nine and opened a three-stroke lead over Prudence Hornberger of Turner Highlands.

Cecily Whiting of The Woodlands and Peggy Wilson of Biddeford-Saco tied for third at 80 heading into today’s final round.

“I’m just looking to play (decently),” said Guenther, the athletic director at Hebron Academy. “I’d be happy just to have another good round. Winning would be great but if I had another good round, that would be satisfaction enough.”

Guenther played in the first group of the day with last year’s runner-up, Mary Brandes of The Woodlands.

While Brandes finished with an 82, Guenther built her lead over the final nine holes after shooting 4 over on the front nine.

“I was really pleased with the way I played on the back side,” Guenther said. “My front side was OK but I did well on the back side.”

Guenther birdied the 101-yard 13th hole when her tee shot landed about 8 inches from the cup.

“I knew I had a pretty good line on it,” said Guenther. “I was thinking that it was going to be on the green.”

The course didn’t seem too difficult for Guenther.

“This is the best round I’ve ever had here,” she said. “I think I’ve only had one other round in the 70s.”

Brandes, who was playing on her home course, couldn’t keep pace with Guenther. A triple bogey on No. 13 was particularly damaging.

“I think my mistakes cost me more than Leslie’s,” said Brandes, who is in fifth place.

Brandes at least had something positive to think about at the end of her round, closing with a birdie and par on her last two holes.

On the 17th hole, Brandes just missed the green with her tee shot, then chipped in for a birdie.

“It was just luck,” said Brandes. “They all are, aren’t they?”

 

NOTES: Guenther, Hornberger and Whiting will tee off in the final group at 10:30 a.m. today at The Woodlands. … Lois Litz, 87, of Dutch Elm, continued her perfect attendance at the SMWGA championship since 1989. She shot a 109.

Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at 791-6356 or at: [email protected]