Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By TRAVIS LAZARCZYK Waterville Sentinel
NEWRY - As his opponents inched closer and closer, Seth Sweet thought of his first Maine Amateur tournament.
Seth Sweet may not have made a huge outward display of emotion after winning the Maine Amateur for the first time Thursday, but inside it was something else. “Anything higher is probably the Masters or the U.S. Open,” he said.
Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
J.J. Harris, who finished as the Maine Amateur runner-up for the second consecutive year, blasts out of a greenside bunker on the 16th hole and made bogey.
Seth Sweet 70-70-79--219
J.J. Harris 76-70-76--222
Ricky Jones 76-73-73--222
Joe Baker 76-77-70--223
John Hayes IV 74-81-72--227
Joe Walp 77-77-73--227
He was 12 years old when he made his debut at Waterville Country Club in 2007. On Thursday, at Sunday River Golf Club, Sweet realized a dream that began that day.
Sweet, 17, held off impressive rallies by Ricky Jones and J.J. Harris to win the event for the first time.
"When I was 12 and I made my first Amateur. I started thinking it was pretty important and I want a trophy on my shelf," said Sweet, who recently graduated from Madison High and will continue his golf career at Old Dominion University.
"I'm not really surprised but extremely happy. I worked a lot and it's nice to see it pay off. I knew I could grind it out enough to keep it in play and protect the lead."
Sweet finished with a three-round score of 219, 3 over par. Jones and Harris tied at 222, three shots back.
"They each made a heck of a run," Sweet said.
Added Harris: "My putter really let me down today. A couple three-putts, which I didn't do the first two rounds."
Sweet opened the day with a six-stroke lead over Harris and a nine-stroke lead over Jones. By the 17th tee, that cushion had nearly evaporated.
Jones parred the 163-yard par-3 16th. Sweet's tee shot went into the bunker to the right of the green and he double-bogeyed the hole. After avoiding double bogeys the first two days, this was Sweet's second double bogey of the day. The first came on the first hole.
"I was more happy that it happened the first hole," Sweet said. "I was expecting something bad to happen around the golf course and I was glad to get it out of the way on the first hole."
Sweet bogeyed 17 and Jones made a short putt for par, cutting Sweet's lead to two strokes with one hole to play. Harris also bogeyed the hole.
"I actually didn't know where Seth was," said Jones, who was 1 over on the day. "I had my daughter in the cart and she kept saying, 'Daddy, make birdie. Daddy, make birdie.' So that's what we were trying to do."
Knowing he had a lead to work with, Sweet changed his playing style with six holes left.
"I didn't get conservative until probably 13, that drivable par 4. I grabbed a 4-iron. My caddie (Daulton Wickenden) and I discussed it and I had a three-shot lead, and I didn't really need to blow that one," Sweet said.
"I still had a three-shot lead going into 17, and I just told myself to limp my way in, pretty much."
Harris had a chance to cut Sweet's lead in half on the first hole, but missed a short birdie putt and settled for par. On the ninth hole, after Sweet sank an 8-foot putt to save par, Harris' par try went off the lip of the cup.
"I had a lot of opportunities," said Harris, who was runner-up in the tournament last year. "First hole, Seth was in a little bit of trouble. I played it pretty perfect, had a 6-footer for birdie and didn't capitalize on that."
After sinking a 4-foot putt on the 18th for par, Sweet celebrated modestly by hugging his parents.
The outward reaction was not an indication of Sweet's enthusiasm.
"Anything higher is probably the Masters or the U.S. Open. It's pretty important to me," Sweet said.
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Ricky Jones, whose daughter in the golf cart implored him to make birdies, reacts after hitting a bunker shot short on the 15th hole. Jones finished tied for second.
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Seth Sweet of Madison, left, receives congratulations Thursday for winning the Maine Amateur from J.J. Harris, who tied for second. Sweet is heading to Old Dominion in the fall.