July 9, 2010

Gay reclaims championship

Ryan Gay, the 2008 winner, pulls ahead late in the final round and comes away with a one-shot win.

By Rachel Lenzi rlenzi@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

BAR HARBOR - Ryan Gay faced a difficult 17th hole Thursday at Kebo Valley Golf Club.

FINAL LEADERBOARD

Ryan Gay – 212

Jason Gall – 213

Ricky Jones – 213

Matt Greenleaf – 217

Seth Sweet – 217

RECENT CHAMPIONS

2010: Ryan Gay

2009: Jesse Speirs

2008: Ryan Gay

2007: Eric Higgins

2006: Shawn Warren

2005: Corey Poulin

2004: Ricky Jones

2003: Ricky Jones

But the 19-year-old Pittston resident calmly dealt with the upward-sloping green, which rests atop a hill, and made par moments after his closest competitor double-bogeyed the same par-4 hole.

Jason Gall's miscue on the 17th hole allowed Gay to take a one-stroke lead into the final hole of the Maine Amateur, and Gay wrapped up the title with a par.

Gay won his second Maine Amateur title in three years by shooting a 72 on the final day to finish at 212, ahead of Gall (67-74-72--213) and Ricky Jones (71-73-69--213).

"The first two rounds, you have to put yourself in a position where you can win it in the final round," said Gay, who shot a 72 on Tuesday and a 68 on Wednesday. "That final day is really where you have to pursue whatever you need to do."

Gay, who will be a sophomore at the University of New Mexico, won despite missing birdie putts on four holes on the back nine -- the par-4 12th, the par-4 13th, the par-5 14th and the par-3 15th.

"I missed a lot all day long, but made that one on 17 when it really came down to it," said Gay, who won the 2008 Maine Amateur and was the runner-up last year.

"I knew I was one up, then I was even, and then I was down one," Gay said. "I just kept missing putts and kept missing putts and kept missing putts and I just kept telling myself, 'you're stroking it well, you're putting good rolls on it. It's going to fall eventually.'

"And really, it never did. I just made that one putt on the 17th hole, but I just stayed patient and gave myself a lot of looks. Those putts weren't for par but for birdie, and I parred my last nine holes today."

Gall, of Augusta, tied Gay for the lead with a birdie on the par-4 11th hole and remained poised until the 17th. Gall struggled on 17, missing a putt for par, and needed two more strokes to finish the hole.

"Until the 17th hole, things were going good," Gall said. "Coming into 17 I hit great; I thought it was perfect. Ended up going over the green, which is not what you need there.

"It's been pretty good to me the last couple days, but (Thursday) it was different."

Seth Sweet saw the 17th hole as a critical juncture.

"It was probably a turning hole for whoever was going to win," said Sweet, who made par on 17. "Ryan made a good putt and I read off his. It was a very tough hole. One of the toughest ever."

Sweet, who will be a junior at Madison High, finished tied for fourth (68-73-76-217) with Matt Greenleaf of Portland. Greenleaf was paired with Jones, of Thomaston, and Joseph Alvarez of Hampden in the next-to-last group.

Sweet, 15, didn't expect such a high finish but believed being grouped with golfers like Gay and Gall elevated his own game.

"They've been there, in that situation, more than I have, and they have that experience over me," Sweet said. "They were hitting it 30 yards behind me and it didn't help, and I was hitting the cut all day instead of the drive.

"But on the back nine I turned it around. Playing with those guys, I had to keep it going a little bit. If I start hitting the ball bad, at least I could watch good golf. But it definitely did help."

Sweet, Gall and Gay each made par on the 18th hole, but Gall missed a chance to force a playoff when his putt for birdie caught the lip of the hole, then spun out and to the right.

"It was really close and fun until the end," Gall said. "I wish I could have had that shot over."

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

rlenzi@pressherald.com

 

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