BRUNSWICK — Wide-open.

That’s how most golfers viewed the Maine Amateur golf tournament this year. And Tuesday’s opening round of the three-day, 54-hole tournament at the Brunswick Golf Club did nothing to dispel that.

Eight golfers were within three strokes of the lead after the first round, led by 22-year-old Sam Grindle of Island Country Club on Deer Isle. Grindle birdied the 18th hole to finish with a 4-under 68 to top the leaderboard, one stroke ahead of four others: Joe Baker and Will Kannegieser of Martindale Country Club, Jack Wyman of Portland Country Club and Judd Parsons of York Golf & Tennis.

“So far so good, I’ll take it,” said Grindle, who will be a senior at Rollins College. “It’s a good start to the tournament but there’s a lot of golf left.”

That there is. But with the field being cut to 40 plus ties after Wednesday’s second round, it was important to play well in the first round. But what that meant was different to each golfer.

“You want to shoot something to keep you in it,” said Wyman, a 26-year-old from Falmouth. “You can hurt yourself the first day. You want something to keep you in contention.”

Cole Anderson, who will be a junior at Camden Hills High in the fall, agreed with Wyman. He shot an even-par 72 and said the first round is about “getting a feel for the tournament. You want to leave yourself in contention. It’s not necessarily about having a big lead.”

Parsons, who birdied three of the first eight holes, said you have to walk a fine line in the first round.

“Really, you just want to get into a groove early, try to hit some good shots early on,” he said. “You just want to get into a rhythm on the first day. You don’t try to get too aggressive but you don’t play too safe, either.

“You want to see how you’re hitting and get the wheels turning a little bit.”

He did that but ran into trouble on the 16th and 17th holes, bogeying each. Parsons finished with a birdie.

“I needed that to leave a good taste going into tomorrow,” he said.

Most of the leaders will say you can’t win the tournament on the first day but you sure can lose it.

“You’ve got to avoid big numbers,” said Ricky Jones, a three-time winner of the Maine Am and the runner-up to Matt Hutchins last year. “You want to test everything out a little bit.”

Jones was pleased with his par 72. He hadn’t played much entering last weekend. “It’s not bad,” he said.

Mark Plummer, the 13-time champion of this event, said pretty much the same thing about his first round, which ended with a 2-over 74. He had a double-bogey on the tricky par-3 13th but otherwise shot well.

“I’m very pleased. I was playing terrible,” said Plummer. “I hit the driver pretty good today except for a couple of 4-irons that I hit off line.”

Plummer played in a group that included Baker and Scott Sirois of The Woodlands. The three treated the morning round as a regular round of golf. Sirois finished with a 1-over 73.

“We all know each other,” said Plummer. “When you’re playing with guys you like and they’re both playing well, it makes a big difference.”

Sirois liked the laidback atmosphere of their group.

“It felt like a casual round of golf today,” he said. “Good company and good people to play with.”

Wednesday’s second round might be different, when cuts are made. For golfers who struggled, the second round suddenly means everything.

Reese McFarlane of Purpoodock knows. He struggled on the back nine – four bogeys, two double-bogeys – to finish with a 7-over 79.

Now, he said, “I’ve just got to go in with a positive attitude and post as low a number as possible to get back in it.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH