MANCHESTER — There weren’t many surprises during the first round of the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Invitational. Only two of the 16 matches were won by the lower-seeded player.

There also wasn’t much suspense in the opening round, as just one of the 16 matches made it to 18 holes and nine matches were decided in 15 holes or fewer.

“That’s to be expected, a little,” said Augusta’s Jason Gall, who advanced with a 5-and-3 win over Andrew Campbell. “It’ll get tighter as things go.”

The tournament continues today at Augusta Country Club. The second round begins at 8 a.m., with the quarterfinals to begin at approximately noon.

Gardiner’s Ryan Gay, the winner of the last two Maine Amateur titles, got the day started with a 6-and-5 win over Kyle Bourassa of Falmouth. Gay, the tournament’s top seed, won holes 11 and 12 to go 4 up, then birdied No. 13 to clinch the win.

“I hit into the trees on (the first hole), but other than that, I played well,” Gay said.

One of the day’s upsets belonged to No. 17 Chris Hamel, a Waterville native who plays out of Natanis Golf Course. Hamel had birdies on holes 1, 3, 5 and 9 to build a lead over No. 16 Curtis Jordan. Hamel sealed the win with a par on No. 14.

“I was in control early,” said Hamel, a senior at Husson.

Gay, Hamel and David Gushee tied for the state Class A individual golf championship in 2006. Gay and Hamel will meet in the second round.

“We played in high school a lot,” Hamel said of Gay. “You always want to play (against) the best.”

Added Gay: “(Hamel) hits it really straight. He’ll give himself looks for birdies.”

Gushee, a Gorham native, who took a 3-and-2 win over Nick Connor, will face defending champion Joe Alvarez of Penobscot Valley.

Alvarez, the No. 10 seed, defeated Jack Wyman, 5 and 4.

A birdie on No. 8 put Gall two up, but Gall didn’t feel comfortable for a few more holes.

“I didn’t feel I had it won until 13, when I birdied,” Gall said.

Gall’s second-round opponent is Brian Bilodeau, who beat Erik Fitch, 7 and 6.

While many players generated low scores, one golfer who felt more like he survived was 13-time Maine Amateur winner Mark Plummer, who defeated Chris King, 4 and 2.

“Neither one of us played great,” Plummer said. “I had an early lead, so I had a little bit of a cushion.”

After a bogie on No. 8, Plummer won the ninth hole. He then sank a 50-foot putt on No. 16 for the win.

“It was the only putt I made all day,” he said.

Plummer will face Keith Patterson, a 3-and-2 winner over Joe Walp, in the second round.

The only match to go 18 holes was won by Matt Greenleaf, who beat Scott Sirois, 1-up. No. 22 Andrew Slattery was 2-up over nine holes against No. 11 Mike O’Brien and went on to take a 5-and-4 win.

 

Morning Sentinel Writer Travis Lazarczyk can be reached at 861-9242 or at:   [email protected]