ORONO — Emily Bouchard of Saco has thought about playing in the Women’s Maine State Golf Association Championship for the last few years, but because of work, never found enough time to qualify for the tournament.

Bouchard, 21, made the most of her first appearance in the tournament by shooting an impressive 7-under par 66 in the opening round of the state amateur Monday at Penobscot Valley Country Club.

Bouchard made nine birdies, two bogeys and the rest pars on the women’s par-73 layout. She holds a five-stroke cushion heading into today’s second round. That’s because Karli Soracco of Turner shot a 2-under 71. Ann Probert of Waterville opened with a 75.

The 54-hole tournament concludes Wednesday.

Players can become eligible for the tournament, run by the Women’s Maine State Golf Association, by playing in a minimum of three WMSGA tournaments a year prior to the state amateur.

“Because of work, I never had a chance to play in the required three events,” said Bouchard.

“This season I did and this is the tournament I’ve been focused on. I’ve been playing very well. The greens were holding and I was able to shoot right at the pins. The greens are beautiful. When you putt, the ball stays on line. I stayed away from trouble. I kept it out of the bunkers and the fescue grass,” she said.

Bouchard served as a junior golf coordinator for the Maine State Golf Association for three seasons before working in the pro shop at Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach this summer.

Bouchard said she is looking forward to her second round pairing with Soracco.

“Karli was one of my junior players when I was at the MSGA,” said Bouchard.

Bouchard birdied holes 2, 3, 5, 7-10, 12-13, 17 and 18.

“I birdied the second hole to get it rolling,” she said.

Bouchard used her length to her advantage.

“I’m definitely one of the longest hitters out here. I reached three of the five par 5s in two shots and on the others, I was just off the greens. I hit a lot of short irons to the par 4s,” said Bouchard, who played golf at Thornton Academy.

Defending champion Kristin Kannegiesser of Minot opened with an 81. Recent Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association champion Leslie Guenther shot a 79.

It was easily Bouchard’s lowest round of her young career.

“I’ve had two other under-par rounds, but nothing like this,” she said.

Her father, John, caddied for her, which helped because she was unfamiliar with the course.

“My father has played this course many times and knows it,” she said.

The only tournament of significance that Bouchard has won was last summer when she teamed with her father to win the MSGA Mixed Championship.

Bouchard has three semesters left at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H., where she is majoring in air traffic control. She plays on the men’s golf team.

“I definitely feel I can stay hot. I’m hungry for this tournament,” she said.


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

Twitter: TomChardPPH