September 29, 2013

Golf: Looking back on a season worth remembering

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

This weekend's Mid-Amateur Championship at Old Marsh Country Club in Wells marks the end of the major tournament schedule for the Maine State Golf Association.

Which means the end of the golf season in this corner of the Northeast is fast approaching. There will still be weekly amateurs run by the MSGA until November. And the various courses will still have weekend sweeps. But for all intents and purposes, the major tournaments are history.

There were plenty of highlights.

A week ago at Martindale in Auburn, Maine defended its men's Tri-State Championship against New Hampshire and Vermont. Maine totaled 251/2 points to New Hampshire's 231/2 and Vermont's 14 in the Ryder Cup format. New Hampshire has a comfortable series lead in the competition that began in 1935.

Maine will seek its first three-peat next year at Concord (N.H.) Country Club.

Maine trailed early, but through strong play by its senior contingent rallied to tie New Hampshire 8-8 after the first day. Maine's seniors gave the team a boost early Sunday and the momentum continued. With players from each team surrounding the par-5 18th green at Martindale, Joe Alvarez secured two points with victories over his New Hampshire and Vermont opponents, and Ricky Jones got the winning point when he birdied the hole to beat his New Hampshire opponent.

Mark Plummer and Mike O'Brion went 3-0 over the weekend.

"Guys play all year to earn points to get on the team," said Mike Doran of the MSGA and a Tri-State team member. "It's an honor to play for your state. After high school and college, there's not a lot of opportunities to play team golf."

The state Two-Man Championship last week at Brunswick had an exciting conclusion, decided in a two-hole, sudden- death playoff after the teams of Plummer-Alvarez and Jason Gall and Scott Sirois tied at 131 after 36 holes. The Gall-Sirois team shot a second-round 62. They finished well before the first-round leaders and waited as team after team fell short, except for the Plummer-Alvarez team.

Both teams parred the first playoff hole, No. 1. They walked across to No. 9, a par 5, with great spectator viewing around the green. Alvarez knocked in a long birdie putt to clinch it.

It was Plummer's fifth Two-Man title. He has won with four partners -- Dave Brewster, Gary Manoogian, Ryan Gay and now Alvarez, who won his first.

In July, Ricky Jones of Thomaston won his third Maine Amateur championship. Jones held off a late charge by Tommy Stirling of Gorham at Augusta to win by two shots. Emily Bouchard of Saco won her third state women's amateur, this one at Brunswick.

Matt Greenleaf of Portland won the state match play championship in a very competitive final match with Joe Walp of Portland. The two traded birdies in an exciting back nine. Jim Van Fleet of Yarmouth won the state senior amateur title in August at Dunegrass.

Ashley Fifield of Westbrook will be out to defend the Mid-Amateur title he won last year. Will Kannegieser of Minot and Jenna Hallett of Presque Isle captured Maine Junior championships in the 15-17 division in August at Val Halla.

There were other winners and congratulations to them, individually and team.

The LPGA Legends, the senior tour of the LPGA, played for the second straight year at Falmouth Country Club. The first Legends tournament was called the Hannaford Community Challenge. The recently concluded one was the Harris Golf Charity Classic. Rosie Jones bested Lorie Kane in a five-hole playoff to win the $25,000 first-place check.

For a state that at best has a seven-month golf season, with three of those months in cool temperatures, it does well to fit in as many tournaments as it does. There's never been any doubt about the hardiness and enthusiasm of Maine golfers. As soon as one season ends, their thoughts turn to the next.

"We're already planning for next year," said Doran.

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

 

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