Emily Bouchard of Saco always gears her game for the Maine Women’s Amateur. She might not be playing well a month before the tournament, which was the case this summer, but come tournament time she’s ready to go.
The state amateur begins Monday at Waterville Country Club. The 54-hole tournament continues Tuesday and wraps up Wednesday. Bouchard, 24, is gunning for her fourth straight title. She won the 2011 Women’s Maine State Golf Association championship, which was regarded as the unofficial state amateur, then won the first two official state amateurs after the WMSGA and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association began collaborating in 2012.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball very well about a month ago, but it’s coming back together,” said Bouchard.
Bouchard was practicing on the range at Biddeford-Saco Country Club, where she is a member. Assistant pro Chris Angis was also hitting shots.
“Chris came over and watched me hit a few. He gave me a couple of tips and really straightened me out,” she said.
Bouchard won in 2011 at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, shooting a 66 in the first round. Shortly after, she shot a 65 at Springbrook Golf Course in Leeds in another tournament.
“Since those two weeks, I haven’t been close to under par,” she said.
Her scores were good enough to win the 2012 and 2013 state amateurs comfortably, however. She won at Augusta Country Club in 2012 and Brunswick Golf Club last year.
“I’ve been fortunate. It’s been a lot closer than the numbers show. Your fortunes can change in a heart beat in a round of golf,” she said.
Monica Austin, a recent graduate of Yarmouth High, finished second last year and is looking to be in contention again.
The top players go off first in the opening round. For the second and final rounds, the pairings are based on scores, with the leaders going off last.
Bouchard will be in the first group Monday. She’ll be joined by former champions Kristen Kannegieser of Martindale Country Club and Debby Gardner of Waterville Country Club. The second group will be Austin, Leslie Guenther of Norway Country Club and Kathy Crawford of Dunegrass Country Club.
Marie Cates of Waterville could be a factor. She has been shooting in the mid-to-high 70s. Home-course knowledge should help Gardner, Cates and Dale Hannon.
“The course is in perfect shape,” said head golf pro Don Roberts. “We’re not going to do anything to make it harder. They will play from the normal ladies’ tees. That’s between 5,400 and 5,500 yards.”
The women’s par at Waterville is 73. There are five par 5s.
“The player who can reach the par 5s in two shots will have an advantage,” said Roberts.
Abby Spector holds the Waterville women’s course record with a 67.
TEE TO GREEN: Will Kannegieser of Minot, the defending Maine Junior champion, was the only Mainer to make the 36-hole cut in last week’s New England Amateur at Winchester Country Club in Massachusetts. Kannegieser, 17, shot 71-76-76-72 to tie for 30th at 295. Kannegieser will look to defend his state junior title when the tourney returns to Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland on Aug. 5-6. The winner of the boys’ Maine Junior in the 15 to 17 age division automatically qualifies for the Maine team in the New England Junior Championship.
The Maine State Golf Association has extended the deadline to enter the Maine Junior Championship to Tuesday. Players can sign up for the tournament and also for the pro-junior tournament the day before by going to www.mesga.org. Players can also sign up for the pro-junior event through their pro shops.
The Charlie’s Maine Open begins Monday at Augusta Country Club with a field of 156 players. This is the third straight year the tournament has been at the Manchester course. The tournament is sandwiched between last week’s Greater Bangor Open and the New Hampshire Open, making it a nice swing through Northern New England for the region’s pros.