June 23, 2013

Golf: Maine Amateur field taking shape with qualifying in full swing

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

One down, two to go for men's Maine Amateur qualifying tournaments.

On Thursday, Brian Knipp of Lake Kezar Country Club shot an even-par 71 at Biddeford-Saco to gain medalist honors in the first qualifier.

Forty-four golfers qualified at Biddeford-Saco for the state amateur. There are two more qualifying tournaments -- Tuesday at Martindale Country Club in Auburn and Thursday at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono -- with 20 slots available at both sites.

Forty-eight players had exempt status for this year's tournament, which will be played July 9-11 at Augusta Country Club in Manchester. After the qualifiers, the field will have 132 players.

The defending champion is Seth Sweet. Sweet was a recent graduate of Madison High when he won last year's tournament at Sunday River Golf Club in Newry.

This year's tournament should be very competitive, with a number of top players in the field. There are four exempt players from the home club who figure to be in contention -- 13-time champion Mark Plummer, three-time champion Ryan Gay, and Jason Gall and Tom Bean. Gall was in the final group with Gay in 2010 at Kebo Valley when Gay won his second title. Bean has had several high finishes over the years.

At Biddeford-Saco, Jamie Boutin of Samoset Resort shot a 73 to finish second, and Tommy Stirling of Sable Oaks was third with a 74. Brett Braasch of Biddeford-Saco shot a 75, and Chris Juntura of Highland Green and Mike McNaboe of Portland Country Club easily got in with 76s.

FULTON ALLEM, a three-time PGA Tour winner, will give a couple of clinics this week at local courses. Allem, 55, a native of South Africa, will be at the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth on Thursday and at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland on Friday. Allem's appearance at Purpoodock is for members and guests only. His Val Halla appearance is open to the public.

The Val Halla clinic will start at 4:30 p.m., and there will be a social hour following the clinic. The fees for the clinic and reception are $20 for adults and $10 for kids. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Val Halla Scholarship Fund.

"He'll talk about aspects of the game and demonstrate shots," said Val Halla pro Brian Bickford. "The public is amazed when tour pros demonstrate shots. We'll ask for volunteers to get little golf lessons from Fulton."

Allem's trip was arranged by Purpoodock head pro Mike Worroll, also a South African native. Worroll and Allem were childhood friends and played together on the South African PGA Tour.

Allem won three tournaments on the PGA Tour in the early 1990s. The biggest one was the NEC World Series of Golf in 1993. Also in 1993, Allem won the Southwestern Bell Colonial. His first victory was at the Independent Insurance Agent Open (now the Shell Houston Open) in 1991.

THE JUNIOR GOLF CARD for golfers 17 and under allows for a 50 percent discount on greens fees at 20 golf courses in southern and central Maine. The cost of the card is $29. A portion of proceeds go to First Tee of Maine. The participating courses are Riverside, Martindale, Fox Ridge, Sable Oaks, Nonesuch River, Dunegrass, Val Halla, Willowdale, Toddy Brook, Apple Valley, Cobbossee Colony, Boothbay, Brunswick, Maple Lane, Spring Meadows, Turner Highlands, Westernview, The Meadows, Point Sebago and Prospect Hill. Also, two driving ranges are participating -- Tee and Tee in Westbrook and Roy's Driving Range in Auburn.

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