Thirty-two of the state’s top amateur golfers will converge on Martindale Country Club in Auburn on Tuesday for the start of the sixth annual Maine Match Play Championship.

Ricky Jones of Thomaston is the defending champion of the three-day event. He beat Jeff Cole of Sable Oaks Golf Club, 6 and 4, in last year’s final at Sable Oaks in South Portland. Jones is the third seed and will play No. 30 Dan Bellemare of Biddeford-Saco Country Club in the opening round.

Maine Amateur champion John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth is the top seed. He will play No. 32 seed Mike Caron of Gorham in the opening round. Hayes and Caron will be in the opening match at 7 a.m. The other matches will follow in 10-minute intervals.

“I feel this has become one of the premier amateur tournaments in the state,” said Mike Doran, tournament director of the Maine State Golf Association, which runs the event.

“Martindale is in really good condition,” he said. “It’s going to be a good test. A lot of the players are familiar with the course. We had the 2009 Maine Amateur at Martindale and the 2013 Tri-State Matches.”

Golfers who advance will play two matches on Tuesday, two on Wednesday and the final on Thursday.

“That’s a lot of golf. You have to play well and have plenty of stamina,” Doran said of the finalists.

Along with Jones, three other former champions will be in the field. Hayes won in 2012, Matt Greenleaf of Portland won in 2013 and Joe Alvarez of North Berwick won the inaugural event in 2010.

Mark Plummer of Manchester is the No. 2 seed. This is one of the few tournaments in the state that the 13-time Maine Amateur champion hasn’t won. He was a runner-up to Alvarez in 2010.

Jones, whose numerous wins include three Maine Amateurs and a Maine Open, said the field is strong.

“In past years, some of the college players missed the tournament because they were heading back to school, but this year I feel you have the top 32 people playing,” he said.

Jones said the strategy is different in match play.

“You can play a little more aggressively, especially if you’re up on your opponent.”

Jones said his season has been “kind of a struggle.” He was encouraged with a strong back nine at the Samoset Resort on Sunday. Jones shot a 68 in the final round of the Maine Amateur at Waterville Country Club last month to finish third.

“My short game has been saving me. I’m hoping that if I start hitting it better, things will fall into place,” he said.

The 32-player field is made up of the top 16 finishers in the Maine Amateur and the next 16 players based on Player of the Year points.

“It’s a good tournament and always a lot of fun,” said Hayes, who tied for 27th in last week’s Rhode Island Open with rounds of 71-68-73.

“I like the format of match play. The pace is much better. You’re just playing against your opponent. You can be more aggressive because one bad hole isn’t going to cost you as much as it would in stroke play,” he said.